Itay Bondar named Best Player of the Game at World Championship

by Tomas Kapusta

Congrats to USPHL Reign forward Itay Bondar on being named Best Player of the Game in the U20 Istanbul, Turkey World Championship!

The 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division III was held at the Zeytinburnu Ice Rink in Istanbul, Turkey, from January 26th to February 2nd.

Team Israel topped Group B with a 30-4 goal record, defeating South Africa 16-1, Bulgaria 8-0, and Turkey 6-3. Israel defeated Turkey to win for the second time in four days in the second semi-final. The home side leveled the game twice, at 1-1 and 2-2, but the Israelis subsequently opened up a two-goal lead and led 4-2 and 6-3 before prevailing 6-4.

Israel would face the Australians in the gold medal game, which would be the ideal matchup, but it would eventually be a struggle for team Israel. To make it 3-0, Australia's captain Dixon scored 27 seconds into the third period. Five minutes later, Segal trimmed the lead to two goals, but Kuleshov added an empty-net goal to make the final score 4-1.

“In the final, the guys gave it all. They did everything that they could on the ice. Australia is a good, strong, and fast team. We had a plan, which was good, but we missed some chances and gave them a few also and they scored. In my opinion, a series between these two teams would be even, for example in ten games, we will win five, but unfortunately, this was just one game,” Israel's assistant coach Itay Ben Tov stated in an interview with the IIHF. 

Catch Itay and the USPHL Reign at Ontario Center Ice Arena as the USPHL Reign take on the Bakersfield Roughnecks! The three-game home stand begins Friday, Feb. 10 at 7:30 PM.