Quebec Pee Wee event has Storm squad amped for February
Most Nevada Storm teams travel out of state for high-level games and tournaments.
In February, the Storm’s Pee Wee AA team will journey more than 2,700 miles to Quebec City to participate in the prestigious Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament, an event that has been running nearly 60 years and features Pee Wee teams from around the globe.
Storm head coach Dell Truax had the honor of telling his team that their application to play in the tournament was approved and to start planning for a long plane ride come February.
“They could not believe we were going when I told them,” said Truax. “They are extremely excited and they want to make an impression when we are there. My expectations in Quebec are to compete. Everyone we play will know they are in a game and will remember our compete level. We will leave there a much better team than we arrive.”
The tournament, which runs Feb. 8-19, will be contested in six arenas in the area within various divisions.
Eric Lacroix, a fellow Storm coach and also a Quebec native, has made it a priority each year to help the Storm Pee Wee team gain admission to the tournament.
“It’s my way to give back to the community, trying to facilitate the acceptance process and all,” said Lacroix. “There is no other tourney like it in the world and it will be an invaluable experience for the kids from the valley.”
Truax said that even though the tournament is something players only get to experience once in a lifetime, preparation is key.
“From the hockey side, we prepare the same way as always,” said Truax. “We are preparing now for the players to miss school. They have all written letters to their teachers and are working with them to keep up on their school work. This is a big undertaking and the players know they need to be prepared and stay ahead in school. We will continue to stress this all season leading up to our trip.”
The Storm Pee Wee AA team is comprised of forwards Kai Blum, Shane Dean, Dom Ditondo, Colton Flietz, Jake Fraker, Austin Moline, Joey Picciurro, John Sinagra and Cole West; defensemen Kevin Hanly, Dex Kichline, Matt Lackas and Tanner Parker; and goalie John Ng. Tom Lackas joins Truax on the bench.
Once in Quebec, the players will live with host families (or billet families) for the duration of the tournament, and will be exposed to a new language, new foods and a new culture. This is all part of the Quebec atmosphere, according to Truax.
“It will be a great experience,” he said. “They will become part of their billet families and make the most of their time there. They are very excited to meet their billets and to be playing and living in such a great hockey environment. They will be kids from the desert playing in the snow and skating outside. It doesn’t get better than that.”
So far this season, Truax’s team has been “working well together.”
“We are very happy with the players’ work ethic and desire to learn the game,” said Truax. “We have really improved since our first tourney over Labor Day Weekend. They are ahead of where we thought they would be and are improving with every touch. They have come together as a team and they are all getting along. They have fun when they are together and that will lead to success.
“What I like most about this team is their work ethic and how they have all bought into what we are doing. As a coach, it is great when players buy in and work hard. We can make great strides this season because of the attitude they bring to the rink. It is fun to work with a group like this.”
— Matt Mackinder