Founded in 1960, the Quebec International Pee-Wee Tournament is a rite of passage for 11-year-old and 12-year-old players from across the world. The Flyers Pee Wee team has been a fixture in the tournament for more than 30 years. The 2020 edition of the tournament will be held from Feb. 12 to 23 at the Videotron Center in Quebec City. Twenty different countries will be represented.
A host of current and former NHL players, including the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Guy Lafleur, have taken part in the tournament over the years. Among current Flyers, forwards Joel Farabee, Kevin Hayes, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Michael Raffl as well as defenseman Samuel Morin, are all tournament alumni. Alain Vigneault also played in the tounament in back-to-back when he was a kid.
Farabee, the first Flyers player born in the 2000s, is the one who participated in the tournament the most recently (2013). He still has vivid and fond memories of the experience both as a player and as a spectator.
"Before I played in the Quebec Pee Wee tournament, I saw my older brothers [Jacob and Jesse] play. which was cool and something that I remember wanting to do, too. Then when I played [for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres] and I went to play in the tournament, it was pretty amazing," Farabee said.
"I remember that we stayed with a billet family. They were really nice and treated me great. The other thing I remember is how much fun we had and how many good players were there in my age group. There were guys I met there, I think a lot of them for the first time, that I still know."
On the ice, Farabee's Sabres team reached the quarterfinals where they met up with the Flyers Pee Wee Team. Farabee, who grew up in Cicero, NY, but whose father has Bucks County roots and is a diehard Philadelphia sports fan, grinned whistfully at the memory of that game.
"That was kind of a heartbreaker for our team," he recalls. "We lost in overtime, so that stung a little bit at the time."
It was of no consolation to Farabee that he was a driving force in the third period comeback by Buffalo that forced overtime. While his disappointment over the game's outcome is still burned in his mind, the details of his own stellar play in the game have faded with the passage of time. Asked if he remembered scoring a key third-period goal, Farabee shook his head.
"No, I don't remember it, actually. That's kind of funny. I guess it's been longer than I thought. But I remember it was a real tough game that could have gone either way and I remember how much I wanted us to win," Farabee said.
The Flyers Pee Wee Team itself has a storied history. Alumni to play in past Quebec Pee-Wee tourneys include the likes of Chris and Peter Ferraro (1985-86), Havertown native Ryan Mulhern (1985-86), Phoenixville's Chris Bala (1992), Abington's Chad Kolarik (2000), Chester Springs product Matt Campanele (2001-2002), Bobby Sanguinetti (2002), former Lehigh Valley Phantoms defenseman Philip Samuelsson (2004), current New York Rangers defenseman Anthony DeAngelo (2008) and Ambler native David Sloane (1999).
The support of Flyers Charities has long been crucial in enabling the Flyers Pee Wee team to ice a competitive squad in the tournament. Additionally the Flyers Alumni Association has also been a big supporter of the Philadelphia Flyers Pee Wee team, both financially and as coaches.
This year, Flyers Alumni defenseman Nick Schultz is one of the Flyers Pee Wee team's coaches. He and son Jake (a member of the Flyers Pee Wee team) will be keeping a daily blog of the tournament.
Other Flyers Alumni who will be coaching in the tournament for various teams include Arron Asham (New York Islanders), Garth Snow (New York Islanders), Claude Boivin (College de Levis), Freddy Meyer (Boston Jr. Eagles), Brian Savage (Detroit Compuware) and Branko Radivojevic (Slovakia K&B Stars). In total, 40 former NHL players will be in attendance as coaches, team directors or simply as hockey dads rooting their kids on from the stands.
The Flyers Alumni Association annually makes a donation to help the Flyers Pee Wee team to offset some of the costs associated with sending the squad to Quebec. Additionally, many of the Flyers Alumni's own kids have represented the Philadelphia in the tournament. Past participants include Tyler Boucher (2016), Carson Briere (2012), Kelton Hatcher (2012), Jagger LeClair (2012), Peter White (2012), current Montreal Canadiens goaltending prospect Cayden Primeau (2012) and current Buffalo Sabres defense prospect Mattias Samuelsson (2013).