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The Official Site of the Colorado Avalanche

2012 Postcards From Quebec

by - Official Site of the Colorado Avalanche / Colorado Avalanche
After earning the designation of the Colorado Avalanche Pee Wee Hockey Team for the 2011-12 season, the Denver Jr. Pioneers competed in Quebec, representing the Avalanche at the 53rd Quebec International Pee Wee Tournament. Despite losing in the semifinal round, the team wore the Avalanche logo with pride.  Members of the team checked in with on a daily basis about their experiences in Quebec.

Sunday, Feb. 19

#11 - Brice Novosel

I've been to Canada before and Quebec was not what I expected.  I expected it to be just like the other places in Canada I've been to. It reminded me of Italy. It was very old and felt European. It was extremely cold and there was a ton of snow. I thought it was amazing to hear from my billet mom, Sylvie, that there are lots of pools open in the summer. I would like to come back sometime in the summer!  

My billet family was great. I was staying with Sylvie and Eric. They have two boys who are my age which made time at their house really fun. We played a lot of knee hockey and we talked a lot about hockey. I felt really comfortable when I was at Sylvie and Eric's house.  It was if they knew me already, like I was visiting some relatives I have not see in a while.  We had fondue for dinner one night and it was SO good. We would take cheese and wrap it in chicken or beef, stab it with a stick and cook it right there on the table. I had never done that and I really liked it. It was an active dinner where everyone was involved.  

I liked the sliding hill the most out of the activities we did while not playing hockey. The hill was huge and not like anything i expected. It was like a ski resort. They even had a ski lift that pulled us up the hill in our tubes. I enjoyed the Himalaya hill the best. It was really long and we got going so fast. Everyone was screaming at the top of their lungs, it was funny.

I loved playing at the Colisée. It was great to look up and see all the people watching us. I felt like an Avalanche player. I feel as though I played well through out the tournament but like coach always says there's room for improvement. I feel bad that we lost in the semifinal. I would have really liked to win the tournament and be the champs. I learned a lot playing this tournament. I learned we need to work even harder at the beginning of the game and pull through when we are tired at the end of the game.  
# 12 - Brian King

Before this trip, I was excited but didn't really know what to expect. Being away from home and getting to stay with people I'd never met before sounded kind of crazy since I'd never done that before. But I have had the best time on this trip. My billet family, Frederic and Chantal and their kids were so great. They made us feel right at home from the second we got there. They are so nice and friendly. We got to know them pretty well, we would have good conversations at the dinner table. It was interesting because they would switch between English and French a lot. I think we'll definitely stay in touch after we leave. Even though my parents didn't get to come to Quebec, they've gotten to know Frederic and Chantal pretty well through email so I think they'll definitely continue to talk.

I was really sad when we lost last night. It was pretty hard to handle since I think we could have won it all. It was such an important game and we had chances to come back but it just never happened. We ended up losing 5-4 which made it even harder because our team never gives up that many goals. Even though we didn't win, playing in the Colisée has to be my favorite part of the trip. There were so many people and it was so big, it felt like we were playing in an NHL game. Someone told me there were 10,000 people at our game yesterday! I hope to play in the NHL someday. My favorite player is Paul Stastny and I try to play like him during a game. I like how he isn't selfish with the puck and sets up good plays for his teammates. I also like how he'll play defense and offense to do what's best for his team. I try to be like him in those ways when I play.

A couple people have asked us why so many of us on the team have pink tape on our sticks. My teammate Colby's mom was diagnosed with breast cancer so we decided to do that in honor of her and to let her know we care. I think it means a lot to her and Colby knowing we are thinking about them and supporting their family.

#19 - Luke McFarlane

I think I'll get a smile on my face every time someone asks me about this trip for quite a while. It has been a really good experience and I wish this tournament wasn't just for peewees  so I could do it again! It's such a huge tournament and so well organized. I loved it.

My favorite part has been hanging out with my billet family, Vincent and Julie, and their three kids. I feel like we got to know them really well. They were so nice to us and just fun to be around. We played a lot of pond hockey, went in their hot tub, and played mini hockey. I wish we lived a lot closer to them so I could see them all the time but I think my grandfather who lives in Toronto is going to try and plan a trip to visit them this summer. It will be cool to see Quebec without all the snow, but if I had to choose between hot and cold, I would definitely choose cold for the hockey!

Last night we felt energetic going in but we didn't show it. It was really disappointing to lose. I know we could have won it all. We did bad defensively which was our biggest problem. After the game we were all really upset, but I think everyone's billet families helped us move on and realize this trip has been about so much more than just the hockey part. A few of the families got together, including mine, to have a little party. We played pond hockey and ran around in the snow, so it helped get our mind off losing.

It's been amazing representing the Avalanche here. Some of the locals recognize our logo and jokingly comment on how Colorado "stole their team," the Quebec Nordiques. They like us though and are just messing around. I want to thank the Avalanche for making this opportunity possible for us.  It's been the experience of a lifetime!

Saturday, Feb. 18

#5 - Dustyn Loescher

I don't think I could ever play too much hockey so getting to play this many games at a tournament has been awesome. Spending so much time together and getting to play a ton of hockey has made our team a lot stronger and closer. We have our next big game tonight which will be the semi finals. We need to make good decisions on where to pass the puck and get it in front of the net. We're playing the Prince Edward Island Rockets who we already played in an exhibition game earlier this week and beat 3-2. If we play our game, work hard and make smart plays, I think we'll beat them again. 

It was so cool to visit the Ice Hotel! I've never seen anything like that. There were ice carvings in the walls and even a chandelier made out of ice. There was an ice slide going through the lobby and a huge one outside you could race down. It was so fun to visit but there's no way would I stay there, way too cold for me!

Everything has been so great on this trip. I really like my billet family and feel like they've gone out of their way to make this an awesome experience for us. I will definitely stay in touch with them after I leave. If it was up to me I would stay longer, I'm not ready to leave! But I want to come back to Quebec again someday so hopefully I will get to see my billet family again. 

Friday, Feb. 17

#8 - Nikolai Lyssogor

Tonight at the Colisée was amazing. We beat the Montmurency Armada and now we are in the semi finals. Even though I feel I could have played better, the team as a whole played really well. The first period we only scored one goal which wasn't going to be enough. We passed a lot better in the second period and began to score goals. That's when it became a lot of fun. We ended up winning 7-1. I feel like a professional hockey player when we play in the Colisée. When all the fans scream after a goal it makes me want to score more. I also like how we are treated while we are there. They have apples and chocolate milk waiting for us in the locker room after the game. Our equipment is moved for us and stored overnight so we don't have to worry about it. It's exactly what I imagine a professional player goes through. 

The Colorado Avalanche Pee Wee team get ready to face the Montmurency Armada (7-1 win).

My billet family has been great. I am staying with Chantal and Dany. They have been really nice to me and have made me feel like I am part of their family.  They have 2 boys who are close to my age so we have been playing a lot of knee hockey as well as pond hockey. I have not learned much french from them but they have been working on their english with me. They ask me a lot of questions about Colorado and how it compares to Quebec.  They are interested in the weather and differences in foods.  

I have really enjoyed the activities we have done outside of hockey. The sliding hill was so amazing. It was not what I was expecting, it was so much bigger. I was expecting some hills but when we got there I was blown away. Its like Water World on snow.  I really liked how we were towed back up to the top while in our tubes. The Ice hotel was cool as well. I can't believe they make a hotel out of ice.  Even though I would never stay there I was amazed that you could.    

Even though I have been to Canada before I have never been to Quebec.  It has been a lot of fun and I know this is definitely a once in a lifetime experience and I will never forget it. 

#7 - Murphy Gielow

This tournament definitely has a different feel than any others that I've played in before. It's a lot more friendly. You trade pins with the other team before every game and it just feels like we're all in it together for the love of hockey. I've never been somewhere like Quebec where they speak another language. Now I know how it feels for people who don't speak English in the United States! It doesn't really make feel uncomfortable to not understand what someone is saying, I just think it's interesting. 

My favorite part of this trip has been doing fun stuff with my billet family. They have made us feel like we are a part of their family. We went to the Winter Carnaval which was so fun. It's just a big party with lots of food to try and ice sculptures. We have also played a lot of mini hockey with their son. 

It feels really cool to represent the Avalanche here. The Avalanche is a very well known name here so a lot of people stop us to ask about our team. It feels like we're famous like the real Avs players! I especially feel that way when we play in the Colisée. I've never experienced anything like that! 

Thursday, Feb. 16

# 9 - Matthew Kopperrud

We had to get to the Colisée early on Wednesday because we were meeting a very important person, Patrick Roy! To be honest I didn't know a whole lot about Patrick but coach had us read up on him before we went to the Colisée.  It was amazing to meet such a good player from the Colorado Avalanche.  I really enjoyed meeting him and hearing what he had to say.  He talked about raising the Stanley Cup which was his favorite moment about playing in the NHL.  He told us about how he would get ready for a big game and what would go through his mind.  I liked that because he and I do a lot of the same things when getting ready to play a big game.

After we met Patrick we were really excited but it was time to get ready for the game against the Anaheim Jr. Ducks.  We had seen them play before so we knew it would be a tough game.  Coach brought us back to the bus where he talked to us about what we needed to do to get ready for the game and get focused.  After he spoke with us we sat on the bus for a while in silence.  I thought about what the Ducks goalie did the last time we saw them play and what I was a going to do in the game.  During the game we outshot them and I think we outplayed them, but we could have played better.  During the second intermission the coaches did not come into the locker room right away, it was just the team.  We talked about shooting up high on the goalie to get that first goal.  Once the coaches came in they told us to keep the pressure on and keep shooting because a goal will come.  During the third period I didn't think we were going to win until Marti scored that first goal.  We were really excited after that and then we thought we might be able to win.  After Ciolli scored the second goal to tie the game we were really pumped.  You could see the other team was not happy on their bench and we had all the momentum.  During overtime we took a penalty and I kept telling my linemates to keep the puck out of our zone to keep the game going.  The shootout was really cool.  I was really happy I was able to get a goal and we were able to win but I was happier that Ciolli and Hunter played like they did.  They played really well.  

I have been having so much fun with my billet family, Chantal and Dany.  They have four kids and we are having so much fun playing knee hockey and XBOX.  We have also played pond hockey a few times, it's only about five minutes from their house. So far my favorite food had been tacos and ice cream. The ice cream is chocolate with Smarties candy mixed in it; it's so good. I'm also getting REALLY into the pin trading here. We get special Avs pins for this tournament, then whenever we're at the Colisée, we go around and try to trade with other teams to get the coolest pins. I'm obsessed! It's fun to see what kind of deals you can make and who can get the rarest pins.

Wednesday, Feb. 15

#3 - Luke Ciolli

Before our big game yesterday we got to meet someone really special - the one and only Patrick Roy! To say the least it was pretty cool. He gave us some good advice on focusing before games and visualizing how you want to play. He also talked about coaching his son who plays for his team, the Quebec Remparts, and what a blessing that is. He told us that raising the Stanley Cup was the best thing he's ever done besides having kids. He gave us autographs and posed for some photos. He was really nice. 

The Colorado Avalanche Pee Wee Team celebrates a 2-1 shootout victory over the Anaheim Jr. Ducks. Photo credit: Daniel Leclerc

As excited as we were after meeting Patrick, we knew it was time to get our heads in the elimination game against the Anaheim Jr. Ducks. Coach had us sit on the bus and start thinking about how we were going to play. I was definitely excited but also a little nervous. I knew that if we lost the tournament it was over for us. Going in we seemed a little tired and Anaheim was really tough on defense. We were making lots of shots but their goalie wasn't letting anything in. All of a sudden there were less than three minutes left in the third and we were down 2-1. Colby passed to me, and I broke away. I thought the puck was going to slip because it was spinning so much, but I was able to make a backhand shot and the puck went right in, top net! I felt so relieved and felt like we could win at that point. Neither team was able to score in OT so it came down to a shootout. I love shootouts so I was excited! When it was my turn I kind of had a plan but wanted to see what the goalie did. I ended up making the exact same shot I did during the game and it worked again. We won the shootout 2-1. It was so fun to win and to come back from behind. If we keep up the hard work, I think we'll go all the way at this tournament. 

Tuesday, Feb. 14

#4 - Blaze Hubbard

Wow! This has been an amazing trip. This is my third time in Canada but Quebec City is nothing like what I've experienced before. There is a lot of European influence in the structure of buildings and I can tell there is a lot of history here. Especially with everyone speaking French, it really does feel like you are in Europe. I was reading about the hotel where our coaches and parents are staying, the Chateau Frontenac, and learned that it was built in the same style as a European castle! Something I've seen that hits a little closer to home was visiting the sliding hill; it reminded me of Vail. I loved being able to hang out with my teammates and coaches and just have fun and mess around. I'm looking forward to the other activities we'll get to do on this trip. 

It's hard to describe exactly how it felt to play the Colisée Pepsi for the first time. Skating out and seeing all those people in such a big arena was kind of overwhelming, but so awesome. It felt like we were the Colorado Avalanche heading into an NHL game against the Boston Bruins. Our whole team was so excited, we were ready to go and play hard. I'll never forget that. It felt like the real deal! 

I'm really happy to have such a great billet family - Daniel and Nancy. I would describe them as generous, humorous and kindhearted. They've made me feel so comfortable and at home, like I could tell them anything. I'll admit I miss my family, but they make it easier to be away. My mom actually sent me and my billet family cards and candy for Valentine's Day. Happy Valentine's Day to my mom and all Avs fans!

Monday, Feb. 13

#29 - Colin LeBere

The tournament game at the Colisée Pepsi last night was awesome. When we were warming up I saw myself on the jumbotron; it made me feel like a pro. The ice was not very good and there was a lot of snow which made it difficult for us to pass, so we gave up the puck a lot. We ended up winning, but will have improve on that for the next tournament game on Wednesday, February 15th at 6:30pm. 

This morning we had our third exhibition game against Wendy's Avalanche, a team from Connecticut. I think we started out a little slow because our equipment didn't show up until the game was supposed to start, but coach told us to put that behind us and focus on the game. I actually don't think it affected me that much and I feel like I played well. I guess I could have attacked a little bit more and come farther out of the crease, but overall I think the team played like more of a team in that game, and we got the win 5-0. After the game, the whole team went to the Valcartier Vacation Village sliding hill. It was so much fun! So far it's been the most fun activity we have done. It was really nice to hang out with the team and not have to worry about hockey for a little bit. The hills were huge and we got going really fast. Then at the bottom it's awesome because you just sit in your tube and a tow pulls you back up to the top. We were able to get a bunch of runs in.  

I really like my billet family! I am staying with Luke and Mary and their two kids, Anne-Marie and Charles. They have been making anything I want to eat. I love lasagna so I have had it three nights in a row! They also make us crepes for breakfast with all kinds of toppings. So far I have had crepes with syrup, Nutella and bananas.  I'm so thankful to be with them, they have been great. 

I like being out here in Quebec and I am having a great time, but I do miss my family.  

Sunday, Feb. 12

#17 - Noah Watkiss

This is a really fun trip so far. My billet family, Nancy and Daniel, are so nice. They've taken us hiking and snowshoeing, which was the first time I've ever gotten to do that. We've also played a lot of ball hockey in the driveway and gone sledding down a frozen river. They don't have any kids but take in us peewees for the love of the game. It's pretty cool how everyone here is so passionate about hockey - it's everywhere you look! You see it way more here than in Colorado. 

That's the fun stuff, but we're taking the hockey part seriously. We came here to play hard and win - big players have big games! I think we've prepared well for this tournament and gotten in good shape, but so far we've looked a little sloppy at times. Going into our first tournament game last night against the Boston Jr. Bruins was nerve-wracking. Once we got got going though I think we played a good 2-on-1 game and had good backchecks and forechecks. We ended up winning 4-0 which felt great. We just need to make sure we keep our energy level high and out-work our opponents, which I know we can do. 

Noah Watkiss and Blaze Hubbard on a hike with billet mom, Nancy. Photo credit: Daniel Leclerc

I can't wait to have more fun here and make even more memories!

#30 - Hunter Bancroft 

After the game yesterday I felt kind of happy... ok, ok, REALLY happy. I am a goalie and it felt great to have a shutout in our first tournament game at the Colisée Pepsi. I had good vision of the puck during the game which is key. There were a lot of people around the goal but they weren't screening me. My teammates and I had good communication and they listened to me. I have to admit I was really nervous going into the game. Playing in the Colisée feels like a lot of pressure. But after the first period I got more focused and my nerves settled down. I think for the next game I need to talk to my defensemen more and do a better job in rebound control so there's less traffic in front of the net. 

Even though having a shutout game was awesome, the best part of being here is my billet family. Sylvain and Nancy are great and they have two sons that we're having so much fun with. We play a ton of knee hockey with them. The whole family is really supportive of the Jr. Avalanche and have come to all our games so far. Yesterday in the Colisée they even wore our second jerseys! It was cool to see them in the crowd. It seems like all the billets just like to be a part of the tournament, which is so awesome. They also taught me how to say "It's a goal" in French, and I hope to be using that term a lot while here!

Saturday, Feb. 11

#6 - Colby Bukes

After meeting my billet family at dinner last night we stayed at their house.  They have four kids of their own and we played PS3 for quite a while.  It was a blast.  In the morning we had crepes with lot of toppings to choose from.  They had bananas, berries, chocolate and syrup.  I had chocolate and strawberries on mine. 

We had our second exhibition game today.  It was against a team from Quebec called the Quebec Centre Champlain.  We didn't know a lot about them other than they had lost their first tournament game yesterday.  We played ok, could have been better but we still won.  I was able to take a lot of shots from the blue line which I love to do.  

The Colisée Pepsi was really cool.  I'm excited to play our tournament game there tomorrow.  I want to play well to represent the state of Colorado.  I would love to win the tournament.  I'm not sure what I would do if we won.  I would probably throw my gloves up in the air.  It would be awesome.  I'm happy to have this chance to play here in Quebec and I'll never forget it.  

#16 - Jacob Adkins

We won our second exhibition game today.  It was at a rink called the Arpidrome.  The side glass was way shorter than normal rinks.  It's tough to play the puck off the glass.  Even though we won, I felt I played ok; not great.  I will play much better in the first tournament game tomorrow.  Coach wants us to get lots of sleep so we have to be in bed by 9:30.  He also wants us to eat good food and stay focused.  

My favorite part of the trip so far has been meeting my billet family.  They are named Vincent and Julie.  They have three kids named Sarah, Lawrence, and Papoo. I like them a lot.  After breakfast we played mini hockey at their house, then we played pond hockey.  We got to play with some kids from Italy.  It was hard to play with them because they couldn't speak english, but it was really fun.

I'm excited to play the Jr. Boston Bruins tomorrow at the Colisée Pepsi.  They are ranked 77th in the nation in AAA.  We've already beaten a team that was ranked in the 20s when we played in Detroit so I think we can beat them. Go Avs! 

Friday, Feb. 10

#13 - Jacob Marti 

We are finally in Quebec! Ever since we won the Quebec Qualifier in November, we've been so excited for this tournament and now we are finally here. We had a long day of travel yesterday. First we had to fly to Dallas, then to Montreal where we got on our team bus and drove to Quebec City. It was tiring but totally worth it. 

After getting a little rest, we had our first exhibition game today. It was against the Philadelphia Jr. Penguins and we didn't know much about them going in. I was definitely nervous before it started because I didn't know how it would go. Coach told us to play hard and get the tournament started right. He said that we needed to show that we are the hardest working team at this tournament. We played hard and won 7-0. 

I really like Quebec so far. I didn't know what to expect, but the people are all really nice and cool. I'm definitely looking forward to playing at Colisée Pepsi, where the Quebec Nordiques used to play. I know I'll never get an opportunity like this again and that I need to make the most of it. I feel like we're going to do pretty good in the tournament.  Wish us luck!

#18 - JP Perez 

Even though we just got here yesterday, this has been a great experience already. Quebec is really interesting. It's cool to be in a place where they speak a different language. I only know a few simple French words (bonjour and merci beaucoup) but I really want to learn more while I'm here. I'm mostly excited to experience more of Quebec and play a lot of hockey. 

Our first exhibition game was at the mall today. It was kind of weird playing there because the rink is surrounded by an amusement park and there is even a roller coaster that goes over the ice! There were also lots of people watching, but we didn't let all that distract us. We did well with shots on net (outscoring the other team 7-0) but I thought we were a little sluggish. Might have been because of the long travel day yesterday, but we definitely need to step it up for our next game. We're playing a local team and I think they're pretty good.

Also, we're meeting our billet families tonight and I can't wait! We've been emailing for a while leading up to the trip so I'm really looking forward to meeting them in person.

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