Shalom Life | April 16, 2015

This 15-Year-Old Israeli Teenager is the Future of Canadian Hockey, and Possibily Even the NHL

Tel Aviv native David Levin, who left his home at age 12, picked first overall by the Sudbury Wolves in the OHL Draft

By: Daniel Koren

Published: April 13th, 2015 in Sports » Local

Photo: David Levin


And they say Israelis don't play hockey.

15-year-old David Levin made history over the weekend when it was announced that he would be picked first overall in Saturday's 2015 OHL (Ontario Hockey League) Priority Selection. Suffice it to say, Canadians and hockey enthusiasts across the world were pretty shocked when they learned that an Israeli teenager - let alone one that's only been in the country three years - was picked first in a Canadian junior hockey league’s domestic draft, one of the most prestigious junior leagues in a country that breeds hockey players.

Levin was picked by the OHL's Sudbury Wolves after a very formidable season with the Greater Toronto Hockey League's Don Mills Flyers, where he had 80 points in 55 games, including 39 goals.

Standing 5"11, and at 170 pounds, Levin moved to Canada at the age of 12 to pursue hockey and stay with relatives, leaving his family behind in Israel.

“I am extremely proud and excited to be drafted by the Sudbury Wolves,” he said in a press release. “The Burgess family, team management and everyone involved with the organization have been so welcoming and supportive and I am truly grateful to become a member of the Sudbury Wolves. I know that the team is building for the future and I look forward to doing my very best to help the organization achieve their goal of winning a championship.”

As The Toronto Sun reports, Levin spent summer 2014 in Israel with his brother and parents, his first time back in his native Tel Aviv since he left, and described what it was like living through the IDF's 50-day war against Hamas.

“You can hear the bomb,” Levin said from his home in North York, Ontario, recalling how he and his older brother Mike were playing hockey on the street when a bomb was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile defence system. “You have 45 seconds to get into the shelter. I feel like I was more scared than him."

Before leaving Israel, Levin did not have much opportunity to skate and play ice hockey (it's not really the most popular sport in the Middle East) but was able to excel at inline hockey.

“It was a really big part of my life. More than school,” Levin said. “I always had a stick in my hands. If practice was cancelled or something, I’d still stickhandle, practise my moves.”

Obviously, his tenacity persevered. After he arrived in Ontario, Levin practiced every day in order to achieve his goal: making it to the big leagues, the NHL.

“Every day I’m waking up in the morning and thinking about hockey, working hard to get to the NHL, so I can move my family here,” he said, referring to his father, a current hockey instructor and former soccer athlete, mother, and brother. In 2018, he can make his dream a reality when he becomes eligible for the NHL Draft. And if he continues playing the way he has, his chances of making it are actually very much within reach.

In fact, according to Don Mills Flyers coach Lindsay Hofford, Levin's one of the most talented young athletes he's seen, the kind of player that can score "those kind of YouTube-sensation goals."

“David is one of the most purely gifted offensive talents in this year’s draft,” added OHL Central Scouting director Darrell Woodley stated. “He has the ability to make an opposing player look very silly and he does it with such ease. Things come very easy for him which is impressive considering he has only been playing hockey for three seasons. He is very hard to knock-off the puck as he has a strong core and low centre of gravity. David is a very compact skater and has very good agility and quickness, changes gears in mid-stride, and is not afraid to challenge anyone at anytime. He has a very good shot with a quick release, is a smart player, and never seems to put himself in a bad position. Overall David has the potential to be a great player at the OHL level and the sky’s the limit for him as he continues to learn and develop.”

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