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The Tournament Winds Down

by Michelle Winter / New York Islanders
After an exhilarating week full of exciting, underdog hockey and sightseeing around the beautiful city of Quebec, the Junior Islanders were eliminated from the 53rd edition of the Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament.

The Junior Islanders started wearing the tournament's Cinderella slippers after a hot 5-0 start in Quebec (3-0 in exhibition games; 2-0 in tournament games). They beat the San Jose Sharks, Slovakia KB All-Stars, Detroit Victory Honda, Los Angeles Junior Kings and Providence Capitals by a combined score of 30-3 in those five games.

Despite the dramatic margins of victory, the Jr. Isles were still considered an underdog in this world's biggest pee wee hockey tournament. Many teams playing in Quebec have skated together for years, but the Islanders are a Long Island All-Star squad, put together for this tournament. They practiced together minimally and only a few groups of boys had played together previously.

The Junior Islanders open play in the 53rd Quebec Pee Wee Hockey Tournament against the Slovakia KB All Stars.
In spite of all those factors working against them, the Junior Islanders roared out of the gate in Quebec, putting spectators and coaches on notice that the Jr. Isles came to play.

That dominating start led the Junior Islanders into a Friday morning matchup with the top-ranked pee wee hockey team in the US, the Detroit Junior Red Wings.

Even though the two teams were evenly matched, the Red Wings stormed the net in the first period and racked up six goals early in the beginning frame. Goaltender Justin Moi couldn't be blamed very much as Detroit's firepower simply added up and seemed to catch the Jr. Isles a little off guard.

Play turned into a more even game in the last two periods, but the hole was too deep to dig out of. After a first intermission pep talk by Head Coach and former Islanders star Benoit Hogue, and a goalie change to Anthony Auerliano, the team began playing more disciplined hockey. Captain Chris Garbe had a few beautiful scoring chances, but couldn't find the back of the net.

The Junior Islanders played much more spirited hockey in the second and third periods, giving up only one goal in the second and potting their only goal of the game in the third. Auerliano made a dozen brilliant saves, mostly with his glove hand, to prevent the Red Wings from taking over the end of the game.

Garbe led the way in scoring chances, but after a great tournament, he couldn't bury any more pucks Friday. Johnny Barbieri came up big in the final stanza to score the Jr. Isles one goal. Austin Acosta and Michael Muschitiello registered the assists to cap off their tournaments.

It was a tough loss to take after so much early triumph, but the team quickly realized how much of a success the tournament had been. No one expected them to make it as far as they did or play as well as they did. The Junior Islanders showed the entire world that Long Island can play a pretty puck game and has a bright future in the sport.

Click here to listen to the CBC Radio interview with Junior Islanders parents and billets.

Click here to view the photo gallery of the Junior Islanders visit to Quebec, from ice rinks to ice parks and everywhere in between.

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