Quebec tourney a highlight for California Pee Wee quartet
To say that the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament is unrivaled anywhere would be a vast understatement.
It seems that everyone who has ever attended the event – now in its 57th year – raves about it, some going so far as to call it a life-changing experience.
Surely, the recently concluded tournament will be one that will be long remembered for the four California teams that attended – the Anaheim Jr. Ducks, the San Jose Jr. Sharks and two teams from the Los Angeles Jr. Kings program. With approximately 150 teams converging on Quebec City from all over the world, the level of hockey is always top notch, but the tournament is even more appealing for the players’ experiences off the ice.
From billeting with local families to playing pond hockey, visiting the local sites and spending 10 days in a new and different city and climate, no other tournament really compares.
“This was my first time going to the Quebec tournament, and it was absolutely amazing,” said Matt Adams, who coaches the Jr. Sharks team that traveled to Canada. “Teams that have gone in the past have come back and tried to describe it, but nothing that anybody says can truly describe how amazing it is.”
Adams’ Jr. Sharks roster includes forwards Max Abene, Nick Cantor, Antonio Fernandez, Zach Louvelle, Dylan Smith, Wes Turner, Alex Ustinov, Rylan Yates and Daniel Yusupoff; defensemen Jack Laser, Reese Laubach, Sean McDonald, Andrew Ralston, Leo Sobotka and Joe Sweeney; and goalies Cody Naporano and Da An Nguyen-Vo.
The Jr. Ducks team that went to Quebec is coached by Jean Labbe. The roster included forwards Luke Ellis, Naveen Gupta, Joshua Hyden, Anthony Jurcic, Joshua Lee, Rowen Lin, Benjamin Palmersheim, Samir Panwar and Hayden Rand; defensemen Xander Kane, Tyler Lee, Logan Okanski, Brandon Plaga and Ross Roloson; and goalies Lucas Massie and Sandrine Ponnath.
Labbe, who grew up in Montreal, played in the Quebec tournament more than a quarter century ago, and returned to the event as a coach for the first time this year. He said it stirred some fond memories.
“The cool part for me going this time was the excitement that these kids who have grown up in Southern California felt about everything they were doing,” Labbe said. “The tournament is so big and well run, and there’s just so much to it. It’s a tradition for the community there.”
Jeff Turcotte coaches the Jr. Kings’ Pee Wee Major team. His roster includes forwards Noah Alvarez, Brody Biller, Jordan Brisson, Andre Gasseau, Arvega Hovsepyan, Paul Minnehan, Parker Murray, Riley Ruh and Ean Somoza; defensemen Shai Buium, Ryan Gumlia, Aidan Hreschuk, Shane McElhaney, Ty Murchison and Spencer Shugrue; and goalies Alexander Bonrouhi and Jackson Baker.
Turcotte grew up playing for Detroit Compuware and went with teams to the Quebec tournament three times. As a coach, he has taken teams there six different seasons, but that doesn’t make the experience any less special each time.
“Normally when you go to a tournament, it’s three or four days and you’re pretty much going back and forth from the hockey rink to the hotel,” Turcotte said. “Here, you play tournament games and exhibition games, and there’s time to go and do so many other things that the city offers. It’s a great destination city.”
The Jr. Kings Pee Wee AA1 team is coached by Daniel Kim and includes forwards Nathan Fix, Dexter Isbell, Akseli Kangaslahti, Elliott Korzen, Quincy Scallion, Blake Simons, Alexander Tatoian, Jesse Troyer and Vladimir Yushenko; defensemen Max Baker, Sebastien Brockman, William Cole Chisholm, Tobin Fix, Taylor Hirsch and Carter Lee; and goalies Jeffrey Dreger and Philip O’Neill.
“It was the most organized and unique tournament that I have ever attended,” Kim said, noting how players enjoyed trading pins, playing against teams from other countries and billeting with local families. “I can see why some people call it the best tournament in the world.”
— Greg Ball