Photo: W0jtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images
Canadian hockey player Eliezer Sherbatov has spent the last three days trying to escape from Ukraine. Sherbatov is an Israeli-Canadian who plays left wing for HC Mariupol of the Ukrainian Hockey League.
On Thursday at around 5:00 a.m., Sherbatov awoke to the sound of artillery fire, and has been trying evacuate from the country ever since. He spoke about his situation in a telephone interview with Toronto Globe and Mail.
“It was close,” Sherbatov said on the call. “We were supposed to have a game tonight.” The game itself at Mariupol Ice Centre for Thursday night was postponed after the predawn invasion.
His Russian teammates tried to encourage him to stay, however Sherbatov said he did not feel safe and wished to make his way to the Polish border and ultimately return home to Canada.
He reported the following on his Instagram account, “Everything was fine until this morning. Then, boom!”
Further posts on his Instagram story talked about his quest to get out of Ukraine.
“Worst days of my life. But I will get home safe. Thank you for your support.”
He tried to contact the Canadian Global Affairs Agency consular service for Ukraine, because he is a Canadian citizen playing hockey in Ukraine, but only got their form letter in reply. He pleaded on social media about the fact that he was stuck between two armies who were trying to kill each other.
“Hearing bombs and rockets right outside your window is something I can’t describe. When things are shaking.”
Sherbatov said he has spoke to his family in Montreal since the attack started, but insisted: “I am trying not to talk to them too much. It just causes more stress. All I want now is to get out of here.”
Fortunately, Sherbatov also had an Israeli passport, thanks to being born there, which he showed on Instagram. It appears that the Israelis may be the ones to help him get out of Ukraine but that has not been confirmed.
Eliezer Sherbatov was born in Israel on October 09, 1991 to Russian parents, with the family emigrating to Canada when he was a toddler. He grew up in Montreal and played junior hockey in the QMJHL for three years.
Once his junior hockey career was over, he played nine years in Europe in various European leagues which included the French League, the Kazakhatan League, a year in the KHL with HC Slovan Bratislava, and various other European leagues.
During the 2020-21 season, he played for a club called Unia in the city of Oswiecim in southern Poland. He considered it as much a pilgrimage as it was a means to prolong his career as Oswiecim was the site of the Auschwitz death camps during the Second World War. (Note: Auschwitz is a Germanized version of Oswiecim.)
At that time, Sherbatov explained his reasons for playing with Unia.
“I’m very proud of my heritage. I came here to play for the dead, and for their remembrance. I want Jews to see that a Jewish kid came back to a city 80 years after so many died. That’s why I am here.”
Toronto Globe and Mail: Israeli Canadian Hockey Player Eliezer Sherbatov Trying to Get Out of Ukraine
ET Canada News: Israeli- Canadian Hockey Player Eliezer Sherbatov Afraid for Life During War in Ukraine
By Diane Doyle