Monday, Feb. 24#9 - Sander Willard
Going into the championship game on Sunday, I had a lot of confidence in our team. Based on the way we have been able to battle back from our first loss in the tournament and what we have learned about how hard we have to work to beat these teams, I felt good going into the game. The teams we have played since we have been here are good, they play a different style of hockey than what I’m used to, but we have been in this situation before at other tournaments. Our team has the ability to pick up our game when we need to. If there is any chance to win, we will find it.
While we were getting ready before the game, we were asked to gather around Scotty’s phone because he had received a voice mail for us. The voice mail was from Patrick Roy. He said he and the entire organization heard about our success and was talking about it. Then he told us he was proud of us and wished us luck. It was so awesome to hear his words of encouragement, and it really made me feel proud to be a part of this tournament and the Jr. Avalanche.
I knew I needed to keep my feet moving, pass and score as much as I could to help the team. I felt I played a good game; I had a goal and an assist. My goal came from a pretty cool play between Paul and me. Paul and I were entering the zone together, and I passed the puck to him, who in turn drew the defense to him, and then he made a great pass back to me, and I was able to bury it low on the goaltender. It might have bounced off the skate of the defender, I’m not really sure, but what I do know is that it felt really good to be able to help the team win the game. The entire offense played well for us. We were able to move the puck well, and we stuck to the sides rather than the middle, which opened the ice and allowed us to shoot a lot. After the second goal, I knew we were going to win the game. The Austrians looked deflated after that goal. I think they began to doubt themselves.
Playing in the Colisée Pepsi was an amazing experience. There was so much going on. There were lots of TV cameras in the locker room hallway and all over the seating area. A cameraman came into the locker room pregame and filmed all of us sitting in our lockers. I wasn’t quite sure what to think of it, but at the same time it made me feel like a professional hockey player. Once we got on the ice and saw how many people were there to watch our game, it made me feel even more like a pro. It felt like a real NHL game. They even had TV timeouts that we had to wait for while we were on the ice waiting for the puck drop.
After the game was over, I was interviewed by a reporter and a cameraman. They told me I was the player of the game, and I was given a certificate for a free CCM stage 2 stick. The reporter asked me how it felt to be a champion, and I told him it felt great. He also asked me if Patrick Roy had gotten touch with us, and I told that that he left us a voicemail to which he was impressed to hear. I had never been interviewed by a television crew before so I wasn’t sure how to act exactly.
I’m really glad I was able to be a part of this experience. I will never forget this for the rest of my life. #20 - Drew Renner
My trip to Quebec for the Quebec International Pee-Wee Tournament could not have been better. I was able to partake in so many fun activities and was able to learn about Canada and the French Canadian culture.
I knew heading into that championship game that it would make this trip and experience even better if we were able to bring the gold medal back to the state of Colorado. Our final opponent in the championship game was the Austria Selects. I was a little nervous heading into the final game, but I tried to continue to tell myself that it was just another day and I needed to just play my game and listen to the coaches.
The attitude in the locker room before the game was what I had expected. You could tell that everyone was a little nervous, but at the same time we were getting pumped up to play one of the biggest games of our lives. Before we left the locker room to head out on the ice, we received a very special phone call from Patrick Roy. He reiterated how proud he and the rest of the Colorado Avalanche organization were of us, and how they would be following along from Colorado. We were even more proud now to put that Avalanche jersey on one final time as a member of the Colorado Avalanche and try to bring back the trophy for the entire organization.
I think it took our team about one shift to finally get all of the nerves out and refocus on just playing hockey. We went down 1-0 midway through the first period but continued to stick to our game plan. My linemate Sander took the puck low and drew a defender to him, the puck bounced loose and my other linemate, Nicky, swooped in and fed me a pass in the high slot, and I just buried it home! Right after that, Jack scored on the next shift, making it 2-1 at the end of the first period.
We were able to score one more in the second period and headed into the locker room with a 3-1 lead to start the third. We knew we were only 15 minutes away from the championship. Coach reiterated in the locker room for us to control the puck, get pucks in deep and just keep it simple. When that final horn sounded, we hopped off the bench, threw our gloves in the air and celebrated while we skated toward our goalie.
Overall, I would just like to say thank you to the Avalanche organization for such a great experience, this is something I will remember for the rest of my life and was a lot of fun. I would also like to thank all of the billet families who helped us through this entire process. It was so amazing to form lifelong bonds with everyone, and I am happy we were able to make everyone proud. #92 - Patrick Routzon
My trip to Quebec City for the Quebec International Hockey Tournament was one of the best experiences of my life, and I will never forget the trip. We did so many fun and exciting activities as a team and got to do things I never thought I would be able to do. One of my favorite activities was when we played Tagball. I really enjoyed this activity because we had to work together as a team to capture the other team's flag and eliminate the enemy players.
My billet family was also amazing, and they might have been one of the nicest families I have ever met. They had three daughters; Evemarie (11), Amelie (9) and Louka (6) who we became very close with. It was really sad to have to say goodbye to them along with the rest of the family, but I look forward to staying in touch with them when I get back to Colorado.
The atmosphere before the final championship game was something that I have never experienced before. It was a little nerve-racking thinking that we would be playing in front of so many fans for one final game. It was truly amazing to hear Patrick Roy's call to us before the game to calm us down and get us focused for what we were about to do. He told us that he was very proud of our team and to continue to just play hard. Hearing that final buzzer at the end of the game was so exciting for me and my team, and that will be a moment I will remember for the rest of my life.Friday, Feb. 21#19 - Nolan Sargent
The last few days here in Quebec have been very fun and very busy. When we are not playing hockey games we are doing team activities and hanging out with our billet families. The other day we practiced at an outdoor rink near a school. It was very different to practice outside because we can't do that in Colorado. A ton of kids from the school came out during their recess and watched us practice. The rink was packed with children as they watched our practice. To be honest, I was nervous to play in front of so many people. It was funny that all of the little girls were asking for our autographs. I definitely need to work on my signature now.
We also did another fun activity that was called Tag Ball. It is exactly like paintball without the paint and the mess. Everyone was a little nervous since we did not know how bad the balls were going to hurt. It was fun that my dad came because it was my chance to try to get him. We outnumbered the coaches and the parents and were able to capture the flag and bring it back to our bunker several times.
The experience of being able to play international teams and the opportunity to stay with our billet families has also been unique. All of the international hockey teams are really physical and work really hard. We have played teams now from Canada, England and Germany. We need to continue to move our feet and headman the puck if we want to keep winning games. I also think we need to shoot low and crash the net hard for the rebounds.
My billet family is so nice and it has been so much fun to bond with them and their three little girls. The girls do not really speak English, but we are all learning how to try and communicate with each other. The food is also delicious, and I have noticed that they use more flavor and seasoning when they cook their meals. I hope we can keep playing well and continue along in this tournament.#17 - Cy Welles
Quebec City is so beautiful. Our time here has been so unique and I am going to miss everything so much when the tournament is over. I do not think it has hit me yet how lucky I am to be a part of this trip with the Colorado Avalanche.
We had a very unique experience the other morning when we decided to have a team practice at a local outdoor rink by this elementary school. It was the only day that we did not have a tournament or exhibition game so coach wanted us to get on the ice to stay sharp in preparation for the tournament elimination game.
Our bus pulled up to this outdoor rink, and we began the practice just as we always have. It was about halfway through practice when the school's recess bell sounded and a couple hundred kids came running outside. They were surprised to see our team practicing, and the rink was quickly surrounded by our new fans. Our coach stopped practice and had us skate around the outside of the rink and give high fives to all of the spectators, who we're reaching over the boards. Before recess ended we took a group photo with the students and even signed a few autographs. It was strange that they were asking for our autographs, but I thought it was really cool as well. Some of the kids knew the tournament pee-wee song and were singing it as we were practicing.
We now have many new fans and will have to continue to play even harder.#16 - Parker Guns
On Thursday, we went dog sledding at the Aventure Inukshuk. It is a huge dog sledding training facility and dog boarding facility about 45 minutes outside of the city. It was a really cool experience. The dogs were mostly huskies, and they were huge. They were very strong and pulled the sleds really fast. The guides were great too. They taught us how to steer the sleds and give the dogs commands to make them stop, start and go faster. We were in the woods on very narrow trails that made it seem like we were going really fast. My mom almost ran into a tree. She missed it by only a few inches.
The quarterfinal game is today at 3 pm. We play a local team from Quebec City named Montmorency Bataillon. We were able to see them play a few days ago and they are a pretty good team. I feel good about it and I am confident we will do well. At the same time, I am nervous. I really want to play well, and I definitely do not want to lose. All tournament long coach Reid has been telling us to stay with our man and tighten up in the defensive zone. We also need to take more shots on goal. We have been getting better at these things since we played our first game at the Colisee Pepsi.
I thought we would do well at this tournament but not as good as we have. The best part of playing all the games we have played in so far is all the different teams. The competition is really good at this tournament, much better than I expected. We have played against teams from all over the world such as England and Germany. The team from England has been my favorite opponent so far. We played them at the mall, which was something I have never done before. I still can’t believe there is a hockey rink in a mall. It was really distracting because of the roller coaster that was constantly running over our heads.
I am staying with Sylvain and his wife Nancy. They have two sons named Mathieu and Simon. Mathieu is a hockey player and Simon is a football player. They have been great to stay with. Mathieu speaks English very well while Simon is still working on his. The room we are in is really cool; it’s a room in the basement of the garage. I have never seen anything like it before. We have a lot of space and it’s all to ourselves. We play a lot of knee hockey and Xbox. Sylvain is really great. He is a funny man and keeps us laughing all the time. Outside of the house there is a huge pile of snow. Sylvain has a snow blowing service that takes care of the snow and it's piled up so high in the front yard. I would love it if we got this kind of snow in Colorado. #18 - Jared Parez
The scenery is great out here in Quebec. I am fortunate to have seen pictures and learn about the city because my brother JP was on the Jr. Avalanche team two years ago. So I knew what to expect, but it is much more amazing in person. It has been a great time so far. I have really enjoyed the hockey up here. The competition is really challenging and just about all of the teams are really good.
I think I have been playing well; I have a goal and a few assists. As a team I feel we have been solid. There have been a few times we have not played our best but overall we have been good. Our quarterfinal tournament game is this afternoon. I am feeling comfortable. I think we will play well. The team seems to be confidant right now. As long as we play like a team, we will be successful.
Dogsledding was so much fun. I like dogs so it was a great time for me. I have seen dog sledding on television, but I have never done anything like that before. All the dogs were great and the puppies were even better. They had so many of them. We were able to hold the puppies and play with them. It was great. While the first group was out on the sleds, the guides had us do a race. We had to pull the sled as if we were the dogs. I was with Nolan, Parker, Cy, Toby and Mr. Guns. We did well and we didn’t cheat like some of the other teams. Once the other half of the group came back with their rider, we were able to go. I was on the sled with Mr. Guns. He was steering and I was riding in the sled. We rode for about 30 minutes all through the woods. It was awesome, but I got cold toward the end.
The outdoor practice was one of my favorite experiences we have had on this trip. I have never seen anything like that before. Once the recess bell rang, a ton of kids came out and watched us practice. They were lined up the entire way around the rink. Toward the end of our practice we did a scrimmage. While I waiting to get on the ice I was asked if I would sign some autographs. That was cool; it made me feel like a pro. I made sure to put my number in my signature so they knew which signature was mine.
The best activity for me was tag ball. I had a blast with that. My dad played with us, which was awesome. We set up the teams as kids against adults. I liked that because it gave me the opportunity to shoot on my dad. I got him twice, which definitely put a smile on my face. I was also able to shoot on coach Reid a few times, and I may or may not have gotten a few shots in at Mr. Bublitz as well. We only lost two games and won the rest. The shots were painful but I didn’t care, I was having too much fun. #33 - Adam Bublitz
When we first arrived in Quebec for the tournament, the first thing I noticed was the huge hotel in the old city. It was pretty amazing to see the size of the hotel as well as the Pepsi Colisee. The tradition of hockey in Quebec is also very unique and people everywhere still wear Quebec Nordiques jerseys and apparel. People everywhere know the name and logo of the Colorado Avalanche, which makes it really cool to wear the Avalanche logo.
The trip is coming to a close, and I have had the opportunity to do so many new things. My billet family has gotten me to try some new foods with spices, which is not like me. The little girls that I am living with do not speak English, but I can see that they are picking up certain phrases just as I am picking up some French.
Dog sledding the other day was so much fun. We arrived and were immediately greeted at an outdoor facility that had over 150 dogs. Half of our group went out on a ride with the dogs while the other group stayed near the kennel to hold the puppies and learn about how the dogs are trained. Halfway through, we switched so we could go on a ride and the other group could learn about the dogs. We learned that if you yell "A" the team of dogs will go left and if you yell "G" the dogs will go right. A team of six dogs pulled my sleigh, and I learned that each dog and position has a specific role. The two dogs in the back were the strongest, the two in the middle were your faster dogs, and the two dogs in the front were the alpha leader dogs. Simba was my favorite dog. He was one of my middle dogs, and he had a really nice golden color.
I am excited to play in our next tournament game. I am not nervous yet, but I will get more nervous as the game approaches. Since I am the goalie, I am going to do my best to stop all of the pucks!#6 - Aaron Black
So far out of all of the games we have played, I have enjoyed playing at the mall and the Colisee the most. The surrounding spirit of hockey in Canada is awesome and it has been so much fun playing in this tournament. The process of me and my teammates being able to stay with billet families has also made this tournament and trip so unique. We are making lifelong friends and family with people that we did not know a week ago. We have been playing knee hockey, pond hockey, going in their hot tub and playing Xbox.
The competition of hockey is definitely better here in Canada than it is in the United States. Since we have played many teams that do not speak English, it is hard to understand if the players on the other team are talking trash to us or not.
We went to the Quebec Remparts' game the other night as a team at the Pepsi Colisee. The Remparts play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), and it is the team that Patrick Roy coached last year. It is also the league that Nathan MacKinnon came from so it was exciting to be a part of that game with my team wearing our Avalanche gear.
We also went dog sledding tonight which was so much fun. We were able to hold the puppies and then go on a sleigh ride. I was really impressed with how many dogs there were and how hard the dogs worked. I think we need to be like the dogs and work as a unit during our next game. Everyone needs to know their role and play as hard as they can. If we work together and do the little things right, we will have a good chance to keep advancing.Wednesday, Feb. 19#23 - Alex Gomez
I have been having the best time since I got to Quebec. The majority of the activities have been a lot of fun. The best activities have been the sugar shack on the first night and the sliding hill last Friday. We met our billet families at the sugar shack on our first real night in Quebec. It was a great place to finally meet them face-to-face. There was an accordion player who was able to get all of us together and interact with songs and dances.
The sliding hill was amazing. The hill was huge and we picked up a lot of speed on the way down. I could have spent a whole day there. I was not the biggest fan of tag ball. It really hurt when I got hit. I was only wearing a t-shirt so I didn’t have much protection from the shots.
My billet family has been great. Frederic and Chantal are so nice and have really made me feel comfortable. They have two sons, Thierry, who is 12, and Thomas, who is 9. We have the whole basement to ourselves, and we make the most out of it. We play a lot of knee hockey and Xbox. We have also been spending a lot of time in the front yard. There is a huge pile of snow in the front yard. Thierry and Thomas have dug tunnels all the way through it. I have helped them dig a few more tunnels since I have been here. Tonight we are going to play pond hockey at a rink not too far from the house, which is really exciting.
It has been amazing to be a part of this tournament. There are so many teams involved and it is well organized. I don’t think we have played our best hockey yet. The first tournament game was definitely not our best game. We didn’t do what we needed to do to win, but since then we have gotten back on track. Our second tournament game was better than our first for sure. We really came alive in the third period. I think we felt comfortable and more like ourselves in that game. Coach wants us to work on sticking with our man and powering through the offensive zone. We also need to work on tightening up our defense play, which will help out the goalies.
So far this has been good experience. The people out here are so nice to us. I glad I was able to be a part of this once in a lifetime opportunity. #35 - Will Strong
I have definitely had one of the best times of my life here in Quebec. We have been a part of so many great things since we have been here. On Friday, we got to go to the sliding hill in the mountains. It was a great bonding experience. Spending time with the team in a place like the sliding hill was good for our team. The sliding hill is huge and the speed we achieved was exhilarating. The fondue diner at the lodge was great as well. It was fun to cook our food right at the table. I’ll be honest I wanted to get back to the sliding hill as soon as we were finished eating.
The pin trading here at the tournament is the best I’ve ever seen. There are tables on the concourse loaded with pins from past years of the pee-wee tournament. I’ve never seen anything like it. The popular pin this year is the Little Caesars pin. It’s very well done and includes a smaller pin in the middle of it. Like I said, it’s very popular. I would trade two large Avalanche pins and one small Avalanche pin to get it. I enjoy trading pins. I get to meet a lot of kids that way. I think its fun to negotiate and come up with a deal to get the pins I want. My favorite pins are my Henrik Lundqvist and Pioneer pins.
Our first tournament game did not go as well as we wanted. I know I was nervous. While it was great to be able to play in the Pepsi Colisée, we came into that game too confident and it was obvious it did not come naturally to us. Looking back on that game, I think it was over before it happened. It served as a huge wake-up call for our team and showed us that this tournament was not going to be a blow out. We will have to work really hard here in Quebec if we want to win this tournament. I think if we put our minds to it, we can get it done. #4 - Jack Kresl
The excitement about hockey here in Canada is unbelievable. Being on this trip has really opened my eyes to the game of hockey. The people are so passionate about hockey so it has been so much fun to play in this tournament. I wish they had as many outside rinks back in the United States as they do here. It has been so convenient to be able to just go outside and know that you can skate almost any day and time of the week. I have been playing a lot of pond hockey with my billet family and their two kids. They have been so nice to me, and Alex and I can't thank them enough for welcoming us.
I have been sharing so many great memories with my friends and teammates and I will remember this trip for the rest of my life. It has been really nice to have my Mom on this trip with me and get to experience the trip as well. I have been trying to play harder each and every game as our team continues to improve each day.
We have been playing a lot of international teams during our exhibition games and I think that has helped raise our game. All of the international teams play very disciplined and have great positioning. I think we need to continue to mark up a man, as our coach continues to stress, and keep finishing goals. I am excited to play some more exhibition games in the next few days as we continue to prepare for our next tournament game on Friday.#12 - Nicholas Haviar
My time in Quebec as a member of the Jr. Avalanche has been so much fun. This is the first time I have been away from my family for this amount of time. I really miss them but am having the best trip ever. My sister Nathaly's birthday is today so I would like to wish her a Happy Birthday!
One of my favorite things we have done so far has been tubing on the big hill. The hill was bigger and faster than any of the hills I have ever sledded or tubed on before. My teammates and I were able to connect our tubes and go down as a train.
When I am not playing hockey or doing a team activity, I am staying with my billet family. They have been so nice and we have been playing pond hockey and knee hockey with their sons Vincent and Simon every day. Their family operates pretty much exactly like my family so it has been an easy transition staying with them.
The competition is better here in this tournament than the competition at home, so all of the games have been tough. We have been playing really well but there are things we can improve on before our next elimination tournament game. We need to communication better as a team and improve in our defensive zone. Offensively, we need to keep getting pucks through to the net and crashing the net hard. I personally am trying extra hard to play my very best since I am wearing the Avalanche logo and playing for their organization. Monday, Feb. 17 #5 - Bryn Saarela
So far I'm having a blast out here in Quebec. The tournament has been a lot of fun and we have played some good teams. Even though the competition has been great, it's kind of what I expected. I knew we would have to play our best out here in order to win. I think we could have beaten Drummondville in our first tournament game if we would have played harder. We were really confident going into that game, and we ended up not playing our best and lost. We needed to play the body and pick up the man in front, and we just didn't do that during that game. Our second tournament game was a lot better. We all felt a lot more comfortable and were able to do the right things to win.
The best part of Quebec so far has been the hockey, but the activities have been great to. The tubing hill has been the best activity so far. The hill was huge and we got moving so fast, it was awesome. We got in a lot of runs because the tube lift that pulled us back up to the top of the hill was very fast. We were allowed to go down with up to four of us at a time. The more of us we had going down together, the faster we would go. We also had a fondue dinner at the lodge at the sliding hill. It was really good. It was the first time I've tried fondue. Even though the fondue was great, I couldn't wait to get back to tubing.
My teammate Adam and I are staying with Marie-Eve & Martin Audet. They have four girls: Noemie, Victoria, Coralle and Juliette. They have all been very nice, and I'm glad I have a great place to stay while I'm here. We have been playing a lot of knee hockey at nights. They have a really cool slide outside so it's fun to use that while we play in the snow. They made us crepes, which were awesome. I like strawberries and maple syrup ones the best. #10 - Paul Elliot
I can't believe how cold it is in Quebec. There is a ton of snow here; it's piled up everywhere. Even though it's cold, I have been having a lot of fun. So far my favorite thing has been playing hockey games and my billet family. I am staying with Julie and Vincent Belanger. They have two daughters, Laurence and Sarah, and one son named Philippe. They have a great place to live in. Vincent is really funny, and he makes sure we are always having a good time. We have been doing a lot of relaxing and talking and getting to know each other. They also have a backyard hockey rink, which has been so much fun.
The first game of the tournament was at the Colisee, and while I was really excited I have to admit I was really nervous. After that game we realized we needed to work harder. We need to work on our defense and know where the other team's players are on the ice. Coach said we need to continue to work on the little things. We need to make sure we get the puck deep in the zone and shoot a lot more. The other thing he said was we need to pay attention to sticking with our man. The players out here are fast, but I think we can keep up with them.
The second tournament game was a lot better. We were able to get a good win, even though we had a shaky second period. I thought our first period was solid and we played great. The third period was our best by far. I was able to score two goals, and both of them were assisted by Jack. I really liked the feeling of winning a tournament game, and most of all, I am glad we get to keep moving on.
Friday, Feb. 14
#96 - Oliver Larraz
So far, this trip has been amazing! I am getting to stay with my friend and teammate Drew Renner at my billet family's house. We have the whole basement to ourselves, which is really cool especially since it has an air hockey table, so we have been having a ton of fun down there. When we woke up in the morning, we had breakfast at their house and then were dropped off at the Pepsi Colisee for our first tournament game against the Drummondville Voltigeurs.
When we got to the rink it was really cool to see all our stuff in the locker room and know that we would now be officially playing as the Jr. Avalanche. We wanted to step up our game because we knew that not only were we representing the Avalanche but also our parents and our new billet families who were all in the stands cheering for us. When I stepped onto the ice the atmosphere was something I have never felt before. To see all of our fans, especially with our billet families wearing our jerseys, was really one of the best feelings I have ever had.
I have been with this team for a long time, and I try to be a leader on this team so to be able to take the ceremonial puck drop for my team was truly an honor. We did not get off to the start we wanted, but in the second and third periods we tried to work it out. I was able to come out of the zone with the puck on the outside and shield it from the defenseman. I was just trying to get a shot on goal and it ended up beating the goalie short side for our first goal of the game. I was ecstatic when I scored because I was hoping that it would spark our team since we were down a few goals.
The first period really killed our momentum, but in the end it is something we can learn from. Even though we lost 5-2, we will look to bounce back and continue competing in the tournament.
Thursday, Feb. 13
#77 - Toby Gleeson
We won the Quebec Qualifier back in November, and I remember feeling so excited about the opportunity of being able to travel to Quebec and compete in the 2014 International Pee-Wee Tournament. The reason I was so excited was because we would be able to see and play against so many teams from many different countries. I knew it was going to be tough competition from the minute we won the qualifier, but I was also excited as well.
So far everything has been exactly how I envisioned the trip. The long day of travel made me tired, but we passed time by jamming to music with coach, playing cards, and trying to get some of our homework done. When we finally got off our team bus, I was shocked to see our hotel. It reminded me of a castle and again got me excited about the tournament.
The next day we played an exhibition game against Team England and won 5-3. We played in the middle of a mall with roller coasters and bridges above the ice. There was even a big Ferris wheel behind the benches. After the game, we got ready and boarded the bus to head to the Sugar Shack where we would meet our billet families for the first time.
I was nervous and excited at the same time. I get nervous sometimes to meet new people because you don't know them, but I was also excited because we are going to be staying with them for 12 days and were going to do a lot of fun and new things while making new friends from Canada. My favorite part of the night was when we did the French song and dance. The dance was an absolute blast. I also really enjoyed all of the delicious food. I think I ate 13 pieces of the pie.
To say thank you to my billet family, I brought them a few gifts from Colorado. In my gift bag I had Paul Stastny hats for the little girls, the Colorado state flower and a few Colorado spices. So far it has been a learning experience since we speak English and they speak French. I am having the time of my life and am looking forward to our first tournament game, which will take place at the Pepsi Colisee where the Nordiques used to play!