On Tuesday, February 5, the Devils hosted the Los Angeles Kings at Prudential Center where the pee-wee team that will represent the Atlantic District and the New Jersey Devils in the 60th International Quebec Tournament were honored during Pee-Wee Quebec Night presented by RWJBarnabas Health and supported by JAG-One Physical Therapy.
The youth hockey players arrived early to Prudential Center where they were escorted to the Devils secondary locker room. They were welcomed by Devils staff, Mustafa Narmatullah from RWJBarnabas Health's Matthew J. Morahan III Health Assessment Center for Athletes and Glenn Terry from JAG-One Physical Therapy. Narmatullah spoke to the young hockey players about the importance of hydration, healthy pregame and post-game meal options, and recovery after playing a game in preparation for the tournament. Terry spoke to the team about the importance of dynamic warm-ups and stretching, not only in terms of maximizing on-ice and physical performance, but also in relation to injury prevention as they prepare for their upcoming games. Devils alum Colin White also stopped by to say hi to the young players.
After their initial welcome, the players had the opportunity to participate in the Devils High Five Tunnel as the team headed out onto Prudential Center's main ice for warm-ups
After warm-ups, the players were a part of an on-ice ceremony where they had the opportunity to stand on the Prudential Center's ice with the New Jersey Devils prior to puck drop. The 11,794 fans in attendance cheered for the pee-wee team to show their support and wish them good luck in the tournament.
"Having the Devils support our athletes means everything," the team's head coach and 2001 tournament winner, Chris Atkinson said about support the pee-wee team has of the Devils. "It helps put it into perspective for our players that they are representing much more than themselves, but the entire Devils organization and New Jersey as a whole."
The players and coaches were then treated to watching the game from the Devils Alumni Suite. Throughout the game, alumni such as Bruce Driver were able to stop by and spend some time with the young players and wish them good luck during the tournament.
After the game, the players and staff had the opportunity to meet Devils forward and 2017 number one draft pick Nico Hischier. He not only signed autographs but took photos with the players and wished them well. Hischier is no stranger to the tournament, as he is one of seven current Devils players who have participated in the tournament since 1998. Those players are Ben Lovejoy ('98), Kyle Palmieri ('04), Blake Coleman ('04), Miles Wood ('07), Steven Santini ('08), Pavel Zacha ('09), and Nico Hischier ('11 and '12).
"To be able to get insight and advice from the NHL players is invaluable for our players," assistance coach Justin Stanlick said. "The Devils do a tremendous job of allowing our players access to interact with the NHL players in ways they wouldn't necessarily get otherwise."
The 60th International Quebec Tournament is a prestigious international tournament that youth hockey players from all around the world attend. The tournament kicks off February 14 in Quebec in a single elimination tournament, with the Championship taking place on Sunday, February 24.
"We hope these players walk away with a sense of independence and confidence," Caitlin Atkinson, Team Manager said that she hopes the players take away from this competition. "This tournament is an experience unlike any other for these young skilled athletes. When they return home from this tournament, parents and club coaches have expressed that these players are more well-rounded, more experienced and more independent. Playing on such a large stage at an early age provides the players with an opportunity to have a taste of what it is to compete at an elite level. In addition to the countless lessons they will learn on and off the ice in Quebec, we hope the memories they create are those they remember for the rest of their lives and hockey careers."
To stay up-to-date with all Devils related news, fans can follow the team on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @NJDevils. To stay up-to-date on the tournament, fans can follow along on Twitter at @tournoipeewee. To learn more about the 60th Anniversary Pee-Wee Quebec Tournament, fans can visit www.tournoipee-wee.qc.ca.