Every February for the last 42 years, peewee hockey players from all over the world gather in Quebec City for ten days to compete in the house Jean Beliveau built. The Colisee, Canada's version of Yankee stadium, was the home of former National Hockey League member, the Quebec Nordiques. The Quebec International Peewee Hockey Tournament, the largest youth hockey tournament on earth, hosts over 100 teams from more than a dozen different countries and three continents. The Quebec tournament has witnessed 644 peewee hockey players that eventually moved on to professional hockey careers. They include Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Guy Lafleur who, at age 11, scored seven goals in one game in front of nearly 14,000 fans in the Colisee.
The Quebec peewee hockey tournament was the first time Wayne Gretzky's talent was introduced to the rest of world outside of Ontario. Prior to the 1974 tournament, Gretzky's record-setting performance of 378 goals in one season as a ten-year-old made few headlines outside of Brantford, Ontario. Thirty-seven other peewee hockey players, including former Red Wing Paul Coffey, eventually joined the "Great One" in the National Hockey League. However, the most famous tournament class came in 1977, when Hockeytown's very own Steve Yzerman battled with Mario Lemieux, Pat LaFontaine, and Patrick Roy for bragging rights to become the best 13 year-old hockey team in the world. Current winged wheelers who competed in the Quebec International Peewee Hockey Tournament include Larry Murphy (1974), Steve Yzerman (1977), Brendan Shanahan (1982), Kris Draper (1983 & 1984), and Aaron Ward (1987).
Recent History - The 87 Team
As rich as the tradition of Quebec International Peewee Hockey Tournament is, the Detroit-based Little Caesars AAA Hockey Club, arguably the most prolific youth hockey club in the United States, continued to build on more than 30 years of tradition this past February in Quebec. In the 2001 edition of the Quebec peewee tournament, the Little Caesars AAA Hockey Club represented the Detroit Red Wings in the "America Cup A" division, which features teams from NHL cities who wear their respective NHL uniform for the ten days of competition. "It makes sense for Little Caesars to wear the Red Wing uniform in Quebec." says Sports Marketing Coordinator, Joe Vancik. The Ilitch family has shown a desire to closely align the AAA Hockey Club with Hockeytown and the Detroit Red Wing organization. They have done this by having the hockey club represent the Wings in the Quebec peewee tournament, frequently having players profiled in Inside Hockeytown magazine, and also having a trophy case in Hockeytown Café. The teams frequently skate at Joe Louis Arena, where teams use the Little Caesars locker room painted in the world famous orange and blue colors of the historic hockey teams. In the 2001-02 season, the most recognized youth hockey uniform in the world will incorporate a winged wheel patch into the uniform scheme. "These types connections with the Red Wing organization make the youth hockey experience fun and extremely memorable for the kids who play in the Little Caesars AAA Hockey Club, " says Vancik.
The Little Caesars '87 AAA hockey team, coached by Craig Roehl, represented the Detroit Red Wings in the 42nd annual Quebec International Peewee Hockey Tournament. In the first round of action; the peewee Red Wings faced the Montreal Canadians, which was the winner of a qualifying tournament in the Montreal youth hockey community. In front of nearly 11,000 fans in the opening game of the America Cup A division, the POWERFUL RED WINGS, as quoted by a local Quebec newspaper, dominated Montreal in a 5 to 1 victory. After shaking off some pre-game jitters, forward Tim Miller opened up the scoring at the 5:25 mark of the first period by blasting a shot from the corner past the net minder. Adam Abraham and Josh Rea chipped in a goal a piece in the second period. Gary Steffes and Derek Roehl sealed the victory with some pretty goals in the final period. Jeff Zatkoff played steady in goal for the Wings.
In the second game, the Wings faced the Ottawa Senators, who threw everything they had at the Wings for two periods. Going into the 2nd intermission down 1-0, the Wings regrouped and scored 4 unanswered goals to advance to the semi-finals of their division to face fellow U.S. foe, the Philadelphia Flyers. Derek Roehl sparked the come back in the third period along with goals by Tim Miller, Brandon Gentile, and Gary Steffes. Andrew Karie made key saves early in the game to keep the score close going into the final stanza.
The Flyers put up very little fight after the 1st period as the Red Wings blanked Philadelphia 3 to 0. Brett Coley scored a goal in the second and third period to lead the team to the division final game. Adam Abraham also scored in the final period. The Red Wings posted their first shut out of the tournament (excluding exhibition games) and advanced to the division championship, giving up only two goals in three games.
In the America Cup A finals, the Red Wings faced another team from the United States, the New York Islanders. Derek Roehl sent the Wings into the first intermission leading 1-0. The Islanders fought back in the second period with two goals to set up one of the most amazing third periods in tournament history. Danny Hinton tied the game at 2 apiece with less than 3 minutes to go in regulation. Just 20 seconds later, Brett Coley put the Wins up 3-2. The Islanders continued to come back and tied up the game with just 34 seconds to go in the third period. The Wings immediately threatened New York with a quick two-on-one opportunity. The Islander's goaltender desperately bounced a long rebound out to his forwards who tried to convert the full ice rush. The Islanders managed to bang in the winning goal in a foot race to the puck in front of the Red Wing goal. The New York Islanders literally fought to the very end as they edged out the Red Wings 4-3 with only 15 seconds remaining on the clock. The New York Islanders advanced to the World Championship game by beating the Victoriaville Tigers in overtime and then falling short to the Middlesex Islanders from Massachusetts.
Congratulations to all the Little Caesars/Red Wing players for an outstanding tournament as they represented Little Caesars Pizza, Hockeytown and the Detroit Red Wing organization with a championship effort. Also, congratulations to Derek Roehl who won the Maurice Richard Trophy, which is awarded to the player with the most points in the "America Cup A" division. The Little Caesars '87 AAA Hockey team members are Adam Abraham, Brett Coley, Zachary Doyen, Brandon Gentile, Danny Hinton, Craig Kane, Andrew Karie, Fletcher Leet, Anthony McIntyre, Tim Miller, Josh Rea, Derek Roehl, Scott Soborowski, Sam Spurlin, Gary Steffes, and Jeff Zatkoff. The coaching staff includes Craig Roehl, Charlie Waters, Dave McIntyre, and Dan Rea. The '87 team is managed by Dick Miller.