Nadim Moslemi is a plumber in Halifax. He is also a center, defenseman and right winger for the Iranian National Men’s Hockey Team. His parents are Iranian but he is a Bluenoser, born and raised in Nova Scotia.
He never set foot in Iran but that didn’t stop him from playing hockey on his behalf. Over the past five years, the trip has taken him to Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan and, last week, the United Arab Emirates.
“I’m very proud of it,” Moslemi, 32, said this week between plumbing repair calls. “I’ll be honest, for me it’s like a dream come true. And that’s a fluke.
He was the only player from outside Iran to equip for the national team at the World Amateur Hockey Championship. The games were played on the Olympic-sized ice rink inside the Dubai Mall.
With losses to the UAE national team, a Russian club and a selection team, the Iranians failed to reach the playoffs. “It’s no surprise,” Moslemi said.
Skating and hockey were banned and their facilities were closed after the Iranian revolution of 1979. There was not a single regulatory-size rink in the country until the icehouse opened at the Iran Mall. in Tehran two years ago.
At the same time, interest in hockey had started to grow there from participation in inline skating. In 2016, the Iranian National Men’s Hockey Team’s first try-out camp was held in Asiago, Italy. Iranian-born players who lived abroad were recruited in hopes of bringing the team to the 2017 Asian Winter Games in Japan.
Although he grew up in Canada, Moslemi never played hockey in his youth.
“My parents didn’t want to put me in it,” he said.
He watched matches on Hockey night in Canada and decided to try playing it for the first time when she was 18.
“It’s a really late age,” Moslemi said. “It took me about eight years to think of myself as a good hockey player.
Moslemi participated in trials in Italy and a second camp in Kazakhstan and was selected for the Iranian team. He traveled to Sapporo for the Asian Winter Games the following year, but the Iranians were disqualified at the last minute because 13 players, including Moslemi, did not qualify for residency. A bell ringer had recently played in the KHL.
“It was a bit disappointing,” Moslemi said. “Almost everyone was similar to me: dual citizenship with Iranian passports. “
Two years ago, the Iranian national team became a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation. He hopes to play in 2022 at the IIHF Division IV World Championship in Kyrgyzstan.
Because he was born in Canada, Moslemi must apply for a transfer from Hockey Canada in order to play for another country.
The chances of this not happening are low. It’s not like he has the skills of Mika Zibanejad or anything. The New York Rangers star is of Iranian descent but was born in Sweden. Hockey Canada is unlikely to stand in its way.
Earlier this month, Moslemi joined other members of the Men’s National Team in Dubai and skated in the World Amateur Tournament. Over 1,000 people watched the action from three levels of the mall.
“It was a blast,” he said.
The Iranian women’s team beat a club from Russia and ended up winning a medal. All of its members were born in Iran.
“It has been a struggle to get to where we are for the past six years,” Moslemi said.
For now, he is back home in Halifax.
“I’m back to normal life until the next one,” Moslemi said.
He’ll drop his key and put on his hockey skates when Iran needs him.
“I know it sounds cheesy, but when your country calls, it’s hard to say no,” Moslemi said. “It’s kind of a privilege to be a part of something so special. I feel lucky to be able to say that I am part of history.
“Every time you think you’ve been successful, you do it again.”