For the second consecutive year, Las Vegas and the Golden Knights will be represented at the Quebec International Pee-Wee Tournament from Feb. 12-23, 2020 in Quebec, Canada. A year ago, the 12AA team was the first-ever Jr. Golden Knights club to earn an invite to the annual tournament.
Known globally as one of the most prestigious international youth hockey events in the world, Hockey Hall of Fame inductees Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux and current Golden Knights William Carrier, Marc-Andre Fleury, Jonathan Marchessault, Jon Merrill, Max Pacioretty, Ryan Reaves, Paul Stastny and Alex Tuch have all played on the Quebec stage. This year's installment will be the 61st annual tournament.
A year ago, the Jr. Golden Knights surprised many in Quebec by not just earning an invitation to the tournament but making a deep run into the semifinals before falling in overtime, 3-2, to the St. Albert Saints of Alberta, Canada. This year's team features a different look, as they return only five players from last season and are now led by head coach Clayton Stoner, who spent eight seasons in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks before being selected by Vegas in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. Due to injury, Stoner never appeared in a regular season game with the Golden Knights.
"Once I stepped away from the game, it didn't take long to start missing it a little bit," said Stoner. "The Golden Knights were kind enough to want to keep me as part of the youth hockey program here. It was an easy decision for me, and I quickly found out that I enjoyed coaching even more than I expected to."
The team owns an overall record of 30-8-2 heading into Quebec and have already won three tournaments this season. Despite the success, the competition in Quebec will be the Jr. Golden Knights' biggest trial yet.
"The stigma around hockey there is huge. There will be scouts and elite teams from all over the world," Stoner said. "We will mature a lot there. The players are staying with host families while learning a new culture and different language."
The 12AA Jr. Golden Knights leave for Quebec City on Wednesday, February 12 and will get a scrimmage in before they play on Saturday, February 15 against Evry-Viry from Paris, France.
Aside from wins and losses, Stoner expects to see his team to play for each other both on and off the ice.
"I always tell them that at the end of the day, you just have to be a good teammate," he said. "We might end up playing some guys more than we normally would during the regular season, so some might be playing less. Being a good teammate means supporting each other regardless of the situation. I just want them to take in the experience and be good ambassadors."
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