Canadian hockey player Eliezer Sherbatov details his struggles to escape Ukraine

Photo: W0jtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images

canadian hockey player Eliezer Sherbatov spent the past three days trying to flee Ukraine. Sherbatov is an Israeli-Canadian who plays left wing for HC Mariupol of the Ukrainian Hockey League.

Around 5 a.m. Thursday, Sherbatov woke up to the sound of artillery fire and has been trying to evacuate the country ever since. He talked about his situation in a telephone interview with the Toronto Globe and Mail.

“It was close,” Sherbatov said on the call. “We were supposed to have a game tonight.” The match itself at the Mariupol Ice Center on Thursday night was postponed after the predawn invasion.

His Russian teammates tried to encourage him to stay, but Sherbatov said he felt unsafe and wanted to go to the Polish border and eventually return to Canada.

He reported the following on his Instagram account: “Everything was fine until this morning. So, boom!”

Other posts on her Instagram story talked about her quest to get out of Ukraine.

“Worst days of my life. But I’ll be back safe and sound. Thank you for your support.”

He tried to contact the Consular Service of the Canadian Global Affairs Agency for Ukraine, because he is a Canadian citizen playing hockey in Ukraine, but only got their form letter in response. He pleaded on social media that he was stuck between two armies trying to kill each other.

“Hearing bombs and rockets right outside your window is something I cannot describe. When things shake.

Sherbatov said he spoke to his family in Montreal since the attack began, but insisted: “I try 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 his birth, which he showed on Instagram. It seems that it was the Israelis who helped him out of Ukraine, but this has not been confirmed.

Sherbatov’s Instagram


Eliezer Sherbatov was born in Israel on October 9, 1991 to Russian parents, the family having emigrated to Canada when he was a toddler. He grew up in Montreal and played junior hockey in the QMJHL for three years.

After his junior hockey career ended, he played nine years in Europe in various European leagues including French League, Kazakhatan League, one year in KHL with HC Slovan Bratislava and various other European leagues.

In 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 a way to prolong his career as Oswiecim was the site of the Auschwitz death camps during World War II. (Note: Auschwitz is a Germanized version of Oswiecim.)

At this time, Sherbatov explained his reasons for playing with Unia.

“I am 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 child has returned to a city 80 years after so many people died. That’s why I’m here.

Related reading
Toronto Globe and Mail: Israeli Canadian hockey player Eliezer Sherbatov tries to get out of Ukraine
ET Canada News: Israeli-Canadian hockey player Eliezer Sherbatov fears for life during war in Ukraine

By Diane Doyle

About Diane Doyle

I’ve been a Caps fan since November 1975 when I attended a game with my then boyfriend and now husband.

Catherine J. Martinez