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Former prospect Zach Springer backstops Team Canada to the gold medal

A memory for a lifetime will accompany Zachary Springer into the next stage of his life.

Springer was Team Canada’s star goaltender at the Maccabiah Games held in Israel last month.

The 18-year-old backstopped Canada to the gold medal victory over Team USA. Springer was selected top goaltender of the tournament.

Canada, playing before a crowd of 8,000 at the Pais Arena in Jerusalem, defeated the United States 7-2 in the final.

Springer, who was drafted by the Kingston Frontenacs in the 2014 Ontario Hockey League priority selection and is the son of team owner Doug Springer, said the Maccabiah Games experience is the perfect way for him to head off to university in a couple of weeks.

“The whole experience is something I will never forget,” he said. “I didn’t realize how big the Maccabiah Games were. At the opening ceremony with 10,000 athletes and seeing the stadium full, it struck me then how big this was.”

The 20th Maccabiah Games, often referred to as the Jewish Olympics, are held every four years and are the third-largest international multi-sport event in the world. There were 85 countries competing in 45 sports.

Hockey, played at the two-year-old Pais Arena built primarily for basketball, was the only winter sport.

Springer came together with the Canadian team, made up mostly of Canadian college players and having an average age of 26, a week before the competition. Springer was the youngest player on the team.

The coach of the team was Adam Schell, the former head coach of the Royal Military College Paladins.

Springer said team camaraderie was almost instant.

“We were only together a few weeks, but we became very close,” Springer said. “I know we will be keeping in touch. I’ve met a lot of friends for a lifetime. We did something special together.”

The tournament opened with Canada beating Team USA 3-2 in overtime. Springer was named the most valuable player. After Canada had romps over Germany and Israel, the team had a close win over Russia to reach the final.

“Playing in the final and winning the gold medal before the Israeli fans was special. They don’t know a lot about hockey, but they know a lot more now,” Springer said.

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