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PeeWee Rangers make history in Quebec

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
The New York PeeWee Rangers claimed the champions of the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament on Sunday by defeating the Detroit Red Wings in the finals of the Elite division.

A crowd of approximately 10,000 hockey fans turned out at the Colisee Pepsi in Quebec City, Quebec, for what is widely regarded as the most important and prestigious minor hockey competition in the world. More than 950 youngsters who have competed at the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament have gone on to play in the NHL since 1960, and this year's field was truly the "World Championships of Pee-Wee Hockey" with 16 nations represented.

Teams from Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Ukraine were all entered in this year's tournament, which saw the PeeWee Rangers go 4-1-0 in the official tournament bracket en route to their first title.

Members of the New York Rangers PeeWee team that won the 2011 AA Elite Division of the Quebec International PeeWee hockey tournament pose for their triumphant team photo after beating Detroit.
The 2010-11 championship PeeWee Rangers team was coached by Doug Messier, the father of Rangers legend Mark Messier, and Jeff Devenney. The team roster was selected from the top 1998 birth-year players in the Tri-State area.

During the 10-day long tournament, the Rangers played a combination of 12 exhibition and tournament games against some of the most formidable opponents in the world, including Chomutov (Czech Republic), the Halton Hurricanes (Ontario), the St. Louis Blues (No. 1-seed among U.S. entries) and the Quebec Remparts.

In tournament games, the PeeWee squad faced the Los Angeles Junior Kings, Amherst Knights and New Jersey Devils before defeating Moscow Red Army in the semifinals to reach the championship game.

The Rangers fell 3-2 to the Kings in their opener on Feb. 13, but then tore through the consolation bracket with a 6-1 win over Amherst on Feb. 17, and a 2-1 win over New Jersey on Feb. 18 before beating the Moscow team 2-1 to reach the title game.

In the finals, the Rangers faced one of the best teams in the United States in the Detroit Red Wings PeeWee team. The game featured an electric atmosphere at the packed Colisee.

The PeeWee Rangers scored first as Chad Krys, the team's scoring leader with eight points in four tournament games, fed Jack Badini for backdoor goal 4:55 of the opening period.

Only 1:25 after Badini's goal, Eric Esposito sent a wristshot from the top of the circle to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead.

Detroit's Sean Day cut the lead to 2-1 in the second period, prompting Red Wings fans to throw squid on the ice in a wild celebration, but the Rangers answered in the third when Ryan Ashe's slap shot from the point was deflected in by Bobby Goggin for a 3-1 lead. Jack Flanagan got the second assist on what stood up as the game-winning goal.

With 1:20 left in the third period, Jack Hoey added an insurance goal off assists from Krys and Nick Van Belle to make it 4-1. Seconds later, Collin Adams scored for the Red Wings off assists from Luke Cowan and Paul Washe, but it was too little too later. The Rangers held on for a 4-2 win and the tournament championship. Rangers goaltender Drew Speckman was excellent in net, recording 21 saves in the win.

The full championship roster included Speckman, Brendon Maio, Ashe, Badini, Krys, Jamie Swiggett, Esposito, John Scala, Billy Overby, Thomas Dale, Van Belle, Goggin, Hoey, Flanagan, Sam Knowlton, Jake Ryczek, Matt Zandi and Paul Denaples.
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