The Carolina Hurricanes held tryouts on September 19-20 in Raleigh for the 2010 edition of the Quebec pee-wee team. This is the ninth team to be selected for the prestigious event that is held each February in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
The tournament is in its 51st year and is held during the Carnival, which is a family-friendly Mardis Gras-type event held in the wonderful confines of Old Quebec, a 400-year-old city that reminds all visitors of old world Europe. It is truly an amazing experience for each participant. This tournament is a who’s who of eventual NHL players, as many current and former NHL players played in and remember every moment of this spectacle. Last year the tournament held an exhibition game for its 50th anniversary that included 50 former NHL greats playing on Le Colisee ice. It was quite the show.
In its humble beginnings nine years ago, current assistant coach and former Carolina Hurricanes Promotions manager Brian Mehm gained entry for the local Carolina 11- and 12-year-olds into the childhood tournament, which he was lucky enough to play in twice himself. Those first couple of years were feeling out years for the Hurricanes, but slowly youth hockey developed in the Carolinas and more and more the team began to compete with the more storied hockey hot beds. In 2005, the Hurricanes made their best run yet in getting to the championship game in front of 10,000 people at Le Colisee. Each year the team competes well and has developed a very good reputation in this tournament.
The Quebec Hurricanes team has some notable former players that are now making names for themselves on the grand stage. Those include Kenny Gillespie, who played two seasons in Quebec for the Hurricanes and currently plays for Shattuck Saint Mary’s (Sidney Crosby’s alma mater) and was recently drafted in the top junior league in the USA, The United States Hockey League, and the Ontario Hockey league. Other former players include goaltender Connor Wilson, who is playing for the USHL Chicago Steel, and Matt Gellatly, who was the first locally-raised player to be drafted by an OHL team two years ago and is now playing prep school hockey for Taft. All this success in nine short years is truly remarkable.
This year's tryouts saw 40 youth hockey players from North and South Carolina and three players from a strong program in Hampton Roads, Virginia, take the ice in Garner and the RBC Center. Although small, the group was one of the strongest yet. The selections were not easy to make and the evaluators came right down to the wire for the selections.Quebec Selections for 2010: Forwards
Ward Betts - Jr Canes AAA
Tyler Romel - Jr Canes AAA
Bradley Ingersoll - Charlotte Checkers AA
Josh Wilkins - Jr. Canes AAA
Hayden Winch - Charleston Wolverines Bantam AA
Linda Essery - Jr. Canes AA
Eric Hirshhaut - Jr. Canes AAA
Kyle Moore - Charlotte Checkers AA
Garrett Coley - Jr. Canes AAA
Aiden Worrall - Jr. Canes AADefense
Phil Heisse - Hampton Roads AA
Nicholas Skaluba - Jr. Canes AAA
Tanner Seimens - Jr. Canes AAA
Ford Hatchett - East Coast Eagles AA
Mackenzie Lancaster - Charlotte Checkers AA
Mitchell Glabicki - Jr. Canes AAAGoaltenders
Matthew Forslund - Junior Canes AAA
Cody Murch - Junior Hurricanes AAAAlternates:
This year’s team has a unique make-up. There are five first-year players, the most ever, which would make this the youngest Quebec team in Hurricanes history. The five first-year players include two from Charlotte, Bradley Ingersoll and Kyle Moore. Kyle is a legacy pick as his older brother Brian also played for the Quebec team as a first-year player in 2006. Bryan currently plays for the Junior Hurricanes U16 AAA team. Much like his brother, Kyle has some tremendous offensive ability and will be looked to for scoring punch. Ingersoll is a very smooth player who really plays his position well. Always on the proper side of the puck, Ingersoll will be looked at to provide some Rod Brind’Amour-type defensive play and faceoff ability.
Other first year pee-wees include Mitchell Glabicki , a defensemen for the Junior Hurricanes AAA team. Glabicki has great presence on the ice and is very vocal. He could be heard communicating to his teammates from 40 rows up in the RBC Center. Alsol, two more players with ties to the past, Aiden Worrall and Linda Essery, will make the trek to Quebec City. Worrall’s older brother, Ian, was a goaltender in 2006 and currently plays for the U16 AA Junior Hurricanes. Aiden is a born leader and will fill in nicely on the team.
Essery is an interesting story all by herself and her background also adds to the excitement. Starting the tryouts as an underdog, Essery scored four goals in the first session and clearly made a strong case for herself. She was just as outstanding on the second day, earning numerous chances and ringing one off the post. With a nose for the net and killer instinct, Essery controlled the puck every time on the ice. What makes the story so interesting is that both of Linda’s brothers made the trip to Quebec. Mark is a forward who currently plays for the U18 AAA Junior Hurricanes team and younger brother Austin was a two-time backstop for the Junior Canes in 2005 and 2006. Linda was also the team mascot in 2005, skating with the Quebec pee-wee team for warm-ups during games played at Le Colisee.
Essery is not the first girl to make the team. Meagan Grieves accomplished that feat first in 2007, and this year we have an interesting twist in that Linda is accompanied by a second girl on the team. Mackenzie Lancaster, who plays for the Charlotte Checkers, came up and impressed as a heads up, puck rushing defenseman. A smooth skater, Lancaster was an impressive player at the tryouts and rarely made a mistake. The girls' program is surely growing in the south along with the boys.
As usual, the team is made up of kids from a wide spectrum of programs throughout the area. Phil Heisse, a solid stay-at-home defenseman, becomes the first player to join the team from Hampton Roads. The Hampton program is developing strongly and it is good to see some quality players from that area. Hayden Winch joins the team out of Charleston, South Carolina, where he is playing bantam. Hayden is a very strong skater and playmaker and will be counted on to make a huge impact north of the border. Ford Hatchett represents the East Coast Eagles program in the form of a big, solid stay-at-home defenseman. Hatchett is the tallest player on the team and his wingspan is similar to a young Hal Gill.
The goaltender situation is made up of some local boys from the Junior Hurricanes AAA pee-wee team. Cody Murch, a second-year player, will make his debut in Quebec City and showed some great skills during the tryouts. Rounding out the tandem is a name that has significant ties to the NHL Hurricanes and most Caniacs will yell "Hey hey, whattya say" as Matthew Forslund, son of the Carolina Hurricanes play-by-play announcer John Forslund, will be setting up between the pipes this year. Matthew plays for the Junior Hurricanes AAA team as well, so the tandem knows each other well. Matthew has made a steady climb as a goaltender the past few years and is widely recognized as one of the hardest-working goalies in the youth ranks. Matthew attends the Hurricanes' summer camp each year and has definitely earned this spot through his hard work. His tryout was nothing short of spectacular.
The Junior Hurricanes AAA team is well represented. In addition to the players listed above, the team consists of Garrett Coley, Eric Hirschhaut, Ward Betts, Nicholas Skaluba and Tanner Seimens, who are all making their first trip to Quebec as second-year pee-wees. Coley’s older brother, Daniel, also made the trip to Quebec City in 2006 and currently plays for the U16 AAA team. Betts, the smallest player on the team, reminds everyone of Todd "Turbo" Jackson, a Quebec player from two years ago and current Bantam AAA Junior Hurricane. Betts scored numerous goals in the tryouts and surely will be a standout this year. Hirschhaut is a huge center who will be asked to carry the load up front. A strong all-around player, Hirschhaut also scored some dominant goals at tryouts. Seimens and Skaluba are very talented defensemen with a great understanding of the game who will be leaders on the blue line. They have different styles, as Skaluba rushes the puck and can control the power play while Seimens is a stay-at-home defenseman with some offensive ability, reminding the evaluators of the Hurricanes' Tim Gleason.
Rounding out the team are our two returning veterans, Tyler Romel and Josh Wilkins. Both players played for the Quebec team last season and learned much about that experience. Romel is a solid up-and-down winger with a scoring touch. Romel, who was a little green last season, has gained confidence and will be looked upon to show quiet and strong leadership. Wilkins is an outstanding offensive talent and the pressure will be on him to lead the team on the scoreboard. Scoring numerous highlight reel goals during the tryouts, Wilkins has some of the best offensive talent ever seen on the Quebec Hurricanes pee-wee team.
Overall, the 2010 edition of the Quebec team is made up of some diverse and talented players. It is the most experienced team in recent memory, as six of this team has ties to former Quebec memories and will know what to expect. In a tournament like this that makes all the difference. The Carolina Hurricanes would like to thank all those who tried out and made the decisions difficult as the talent level is certainly growing in the area. We would also like to congratulate those players who will make up the 2010 edition of the Quebec pee-wee hockey team.
For more information on the history of the Quebec Junior Hurricanes teams throughout the year, please visit the team Web site, www.theteamquebec.com. That site is maintained by the Quebec billet captain, Alain Desfosses, who is in charge of making this event a truly memorable experience for the Carolina kids. Alain makes the trip to Carolina each year to help with tryout selections. He is an amazing individual who has become a Caniac along the way.