Today is the day, the first game of the tournament against the Team Northwest Regulators from Utah. This is the game we have all been waiting for to get our 2011 Quebec pee-wee tournament up and running.
|Paul Strand |
We have been enjoying our time and getting ready to face this relatively unknown program out of the west. Their website calls them the best team in the state of Utah, but no one really knows what that means. We are preparing for a battle and the kids seem to be ready.
On Friday we played our second exhibition game. The first one against the C bracket team was a 4-1 win, but no one was really happy with our performance. It was sloppy and some things made the coaching staff worry a little bit going into Sunday’s tournament game. However the game vs. the San Jose Sharks was a different one altogether. The team came out firing. Riley Stillman and Tanner Siemens were moved up to forward for the first shift, playing along side Jordan Cooper and the three monsters started the game off playing the whole shift in San Jose’s zone. From there it seemed the puck never left the Sharks' defensive end.
The entire team was into the game and other than not putting the puck in the net, the game showed what the team can do when it is focused. We buzzed around the Sharks goalie and peppered him as he stood on his head. The game ended with the Hurricanes winning 1-0. Tanner Siemens scored a nice goal and Josh Greune recorded the shutout for the Hurricanes. The coaching staff feels a little more confident about the team going into tonight’s game.
Friday night was the annual Billet/Parent dinner up in the beautiful Mount Tourbillion ski lodge north of Quebec. We had a record number of parents and family members at the dinner. As usual, the dinner was a complete success and everyone can mingle and get to know one another and the boys are all introduced and the billets can get to know them without their hockey gear on. Billet Captain Alain Defosses, who made the trip to Raleigh to see the All-Star Game and Skills competition a few weeks back, runs the show for this dinner and he always puts on a great show. In another growing tradition, returning player and assistant captain Mitchell Glabicki gave a speech, showing off some French language skills, thanking the billets and coaching staff for this amazing experience. Well done Mitch!
Saturday was another great day as well. Personally I started it off at Le Colisee at 8 a.m. as I was there to scout the Colorado Avalanche vs. the Boston Bruins because we could meet them later on down the road. However, it is always the best part of this tournament, just sitting and watching the kids play hockey. I have done it more and more over the years as you realize that each game has its moments of brilliance by these young hockey players. They could be AA bracket teams or CC bracket teams, but there always seems to be some amazing plays, awesome saves and great finishes.
Last night Val D’or played a team from Winnipeg and Winnipeg was winning an uneventful game 3-1 in the third period. The game was not the best at that point with about 8 minutes left and did not seem too promising, but then Val D’or scored one and then tied it up late and sent it into overtime with a flourish of skill and finesse. All of a sudden, Le Colisee was electric. It went into overtime and you could just feel the energy. Overtime ended tied and then the shootout came. The Winnipeg team changed its goalie for the shootout, which is always a tricky decision, but the goalie that finished the game was a little shaky from losing the lead. The shootout ended up being one of the best I have ever witnessed in Quebec. It went 10 rounds and each round was exciting. The goalies made some tremendous saves, but in the end Val D’or, the local favorite in this game, won to a rousing cheer. No worries for Winnipeg though, they can come through the loser bracket and win it all in the end. This hockey is what it is all about here in Quebec.
Later in the day all the boys got together at the local outdoor rink with the parents and billets for our annual Saturday outdoor rink game. It was snowing hard and it felt like the winter classic a couple years ago. We also had a record number of people out here for the game. Ten or so parents and billet dads donned the skates as the adults (along with a few local teenagers) took on the boys. Needless to say the adults schooled the youngsters in this game, but the boys showed some skill in shoveling the snow in between shifts. Carter Long, Colby Pederson, Riley Stillman and Nicholas Wildgoose acted like true Olympias out there and seemed to enjoy that just as much as the game.
Most of the kids, billets and families came downtown for the Carnival parade or spent the nights at the billet house as the billets host the parents for a night of French cuisine and hospitality. The first Saturday each year is the last day of the carnival and the Hurricanes always seem to have this day off of playing games so it is a great day for the billets and families to spend some time together. One billet hosted a seven course meal and another billet family took their player and parents to the Ice Hotel which is a true work of art.
The night ended with a trip to see the Trevor Walsh group down in Old Quebec. Trevor is a mainstay here during the Carnival and the Junior Hurricanes parents are his biggest fans and supporters. Last year he took a hiatus from the Pee-wee tournament, but every year prior to that Trevor and his group has entertained the Hurricane parents that first weekend. He is a wonderful entertainer and he is a big Hurricanes fan.
All in all the preparation is complete for everyone involved in the pee-wee tournament. Everyone is settling in and gearing up for tonight. The boys will meet shortly at the hockey warehouse to get some last minute hockey gear, tape, etc and then head back to the hotel for a chalk talk, a walk, lunch, some more game preparation from the coaching staff and then head over to Le Colisee around 5 p.m. for our game.
Bon Chance for the boys and Vive le Pee-wee Du Carnival!
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