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Quebec: Jr. Canes Hit the Road

by Paul Strand / Carolina Hurricanes
For the eighth consecutive year, the Carolina Hurricanes are sending a team to the Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey TournamentThe Pee Wee team is comprised of 18 youth hockey players (ages 11 and 12) from the Carolinas, who will be led and coached by Canes Youth and Amateur coordinator Paul Strand. 

Throughout the tournament, Strand will be blogging to offer insight on the team’s play, countless experiences from the historic city, the tales and triumphs of individual players and more.   Over the eight years of play in the tournament, the Carolina Hurricanes squad has become very competitive and will once again be viewed as a contender.

Thanks for reading and come back often!

Feb 10, 2010

Paul Strand
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Once again the weather and travel have provided the drama needed to begin this annual pilgrimage to the beautiful 400-year-old Remparts of Quebec City. With Mother Nature dumping buckets of snow on the entire Northern states from Minnesota to New England, the past 48 hours have been met with some trepidation. Watching the weather channel religiously to see exactly what course of action we should take in regards to our flights. Do we switch from LaGuardia to O’Hare? Or do we stay put? When do we make the decision to switch, if at all? So today we are just happy to be en route to our Quebec City destination.

The decision is never an easy one when you are transporting eighteen 11- and 12-year-olds. Switching flights might mean getting split up and who knows what else will happen? If you switch from New York to Chicago, will there not be the same delays and cancellations? Anyways, American, who cancelled their flights to New York, made the decision for us and we were rebooked through Chicago.

This year we head to Quebec with a couple of signed jerseys, one for the tournament and the other for our billet aptain, Alain Desfosses. The jerseys demonstrate the history members of our organization have in the Carnival of Quebec as it is signed by Hurricanes Associate Head Coach Ron Francis, Assistant GM Jason Karmanos and players Chad LaRose, Tim Gleason, Sergei Samsonov, Jiri Tlusty and Tom Kostopoulos, all of whom have fond memories of playing in the tournament from their youth. While Kostopoulos was signing the jerseys this week he remarked that his team had won the tournament the year he played and that is was a tremendous moment from his youth hockey days, one he will never forget.

Hopefully this week you will hear John Forslund talk about the trip on FS Carolinas, as his son Matthew is making the trek to Quebec as one of the goaltenders of this year’s squad. Matthew, who has been a Carolina Hurricanes summer camper for years and currently plays on the Junior Hurricanes Pee Wee AAA team, has been steady as a rock this season and is looking forward to the experience, including meeting the French Canadian billet families. John has been getting the rundown from his on air partner, Tripp Tracy, who also attended this tournament as a youth goaltender and understands fully what Matthew will be facing this week. Interestingly, Tripp was also the coach of the Pee Wee Junior Hurricanes Quebec team in 2002.

Former Quebec Junior Hurricanes have also begun to make some headlines in the hockey world. Two-time player Kenny Gillespie headed to Sidney Crosby’s alma mater, Shattuck St. Mary’s, and has blossomed. Last year he was drafted in both the Ontario Hockey League and the United States Hockey league (USHL). Look for big things in the future from the former East Coast Eagle.

Connor Wilson, another two-time goaltender, is playing this year in the USHL for the Chicago Steel. Wilson left Raleigh soon after heading to Quebec with the Junior Hurricanes to attend Prep School. He then decided to make the jump this past season to the USHL and is also garnering some strong NCAA Division I attention.

This year’s kids will be no different then the countless former Pee Wee tournament participants that have found their place on the rosters of the Carolina Hurricanes and other NHL teams. Their memories of this trip and tournament will eclipse any youth hockey memory. Hopefully one of these young players will be signing jerseys or recounting their stories on TV to other hopefuls down the road.

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