After earning the designation as the Colorado Avalanche Pee Wee Hockey Team for the 2012-13 season, the Arapahoe Ice Warriors are representing the Avalanche at the 54th Quebec International Pee Wee Tournament. The team won all five of its tournament games, including four games in four days, to be named the International-B Division Champions. They are the first Colorado team to win a division at the prestigious competition. Team members checked in with ColoradoAvalanche.com throughout the tournament to share their experiences.
Sunday, Feb. 24
Wow, I'm still in a little bit of shock but we did it! We are the 2013 Quebec Pee Wee International-B Champions! I felt confident throughout the tournament that we had a good chance, but to actually experience it is completely different. It's really the greatest feeling I've ever felt.
To back up a little, we faced the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the B division finals today. They are a team from very far north Quebec. I knew since they were a Canadian team they would have great offense, an OK defense, and OK goaltending. I was really nervous and excited at the same time before the game. Then when we hit the ice and saw the 10,000+ people in the crowd, I got really, really nervous. My strategy was to get a pass while I'm in the zone so I could take on their defense. It worked a couple times and I was able to break away and score three goals for a hat trick. At one point I ran into two kids and knocked them over while Owen Jordan sniped the puck in for a goal. When the score got to 5-2 us, I felt confident we were going to win. When the buzzer sounded at the end of the third period, the score was 6-2 and I knew we were the champions. It was amazing. Being the champions in Quebec as the Junior Avalanche showed that Colorado has a lot to offer the hockey world.
We got a trophy, a banner, medals, and hats for winning. It was fun getting to experience all of the ceremony and celebration with my teammates. I felt like we earned it together. I'm looking forward to going home to my bed and my family, but I will never forget this experience. Besides winning, my billet family has meant a lot to me. I know I'll keep in touch with the through Facetime, texting, and Facebook.
The trip to Quebec was so awesome. I loved the city. The atmosphere was amazing. I couldn't believe just how much hockey was there; it was everywhere. Outside of hockey, there were so many fun things to do. We got to ride a toboggan, the sledding hill was huge and I loved the pond hockey. I stayed with Pierre and Genevieve, who were so amazing. Their son Antwan treated me so well. They really treated me like I was part of the family. Antwan is a great hockey player, which made the pond hockey a ton of fun. There was a bit of a language barrier because they didn't speak a lot of English but we made it work. We would have to figure out between the two of us how to describe things. We found that the one main thing we had in common was hockey and that made everything okay.
After winning the semifinal game, I felt really good. I felt confident and I really felt like we could actually win this tournament. I knew it had been a while since a Colorado team had been in the finals so that made me feel even better. I think I did really well on the power play. That is where I felt I contributed the most. Overall, I was happy with my play. The teams out here are faster and stronger than the teams back home. I feel like I learned a lot about hockey throughout this tournament. I think it will make us a better team back home. We played really well as a team and I think this experience has been a really good thing for us.
Once we scored the first goal in the final game, I knew we would win. I just had this feeling. When I saw the clock end, I was so excited. I can’t even put it into words. It felt so good to raise that trophy and see all the fans cheering for us. It makes me want to work harder; I love the feeling of winning a big game. I am really happy to have my grandpa out here with me. He made me feel comfortable. I'm not sure I would have been able to last 11 days out here without him.
The Quebec trip has been the trip of a lifetime. I have had so much fun. The opportunity to stay with a billet family, play in a big arena with huge crowds and play some really good teams has been amazing. I can't imagine a better trip. Nancy and Daniel really spoiled me. They made me feel like I was a part of their family. It was much harder to leave than I thought it would be. They took such good care of us and made me feel really comfortable. We did some really fun things while I stayed at their house. We went snowshoeing, played pond hockey and we went sledding a few times. I've never been snowshoeing, so that was awesome.I scored four goals in the semifinal game. I have scored four goals in a game before but this was totally different. To do that in a huge arena and in front of a huge crowd was really special. I don't think I will ever forget it. I have to give my team credit for it though; they played unselfishly and fed me the puck. They did all the work. All I had to do was put it in the net. My teammates were great. They kept encouraging me and telling me I was doing a great job and to keep it up. I don't really care about stats, what really mattered is that we won and got to advance to the final game.
Saturday, Feb. 23
The best word to describe this tournament would be intense. I can't believe how many local people come out to watch the games. It makes me excited for each game, knowing how many people will be watching. Especially knowing our billet families and parents will be in the stands watching and cheering. Also knowing that our parents and siblings that couldn't come are back in Colorado watching on the internet, that is really cool.
The quarterfinal game against San Jose was interesting. I had never seen their kind of game style; it was kind of weird. They were down 2-0 with 10 minutes left in the 2nd period and decided to pull their goalie. I think they were just wishful that they would score but we ended up getting the puck and scoring on their empty net to make it 3-0 us. I knew we had the game at that point but also that we needed to stay motivated throughout the 3rd period. I've seen teams get up three goals and lose their momentum, which we definitely wanted to avoid. So we maintained and ended up winning 5-0 to move on to the semifinals tomorrow. It was awesome and felt REALLY good! Also we got to watch the team that we will face in the semis and they don't seem too much better than the Sharks, so I feel pretty confident going into that one as well. We've been watching Herb Brooks’ speech from "Miracle" when the US is about to play the Soviets before each big game. It pumps us up and gets us thinking about winning.
I miss home and my family quite a bit, but I am ready to make it to the championship and bring home some hardware for Colorado.
This trip is the coolest things I've gotten to do as a hockey player, it's an experience of a lifetime. I knew coming into the trip that it would be important to hold ourselves to a high standard since we are the Jr. Avs. I feel like we've done a good job representing the Avalanche. We've done our duty and shown respect to Quebec and the tournament.
I've been sick like a lot of my teammates but decided to mentally push through and make the most of this whole experience. I've had so much fun with my billet family, going to the kids’ basketball games, skating at neighborhood ponds, playing NHL knee hockey, and trading pins. I'm as into the pin trading as some of my teammates but I've gotten a couple good ones. It's a pretty big deal here! I will definitely keep in touch with my billet family long after we leave Quebec. They are so awesome. I love it here, but it'll be nice to see my family when I get back and be back at our home rink.
At the game against the Jr. Sharks, it felt great to be the team to score first. Then I got the second goal - it was breathtaking. It felt really good and I could hear the crowd cheering. We'll be strong for the next game if we come out harder and faster than the other guys.
I was so nervous in the quarterfinal game against the San Jose Jr. Sharks. The Colisee crowd is huge and with everyone there and everyone watching on TV, I didn't want to screw up. As nervous as I was, I think I played well but I need to get more shots on net. I did get an assist on one of Tim's goals, which was awesome. During the intermission coach told us that we needed to come out really hard and be ready for San Jose to do the same. I think San Jose was a good team, but I knew we could beat them. Once we finally did win, I felt great. I felt like we could actually win this tournament.
Like a lot of the other guys I haven't been feeling well. I lost my voice. That make its hard to communicate on the ice, but I'm getting through it. My throat is sore but I'm starting to feel better. I won't let it get in the way of my play. I'm not really nervous for the semifinal game; I'm more excited. We watched some of the game that decided who we play and I think we could beat ether of those teams.
When I get ready for the games, I sit and visualize myself going through the motions on the ice. I try to focus on the game as much as possible. I think if we play like we did against the Sharks, we have a really good chance of winning.Big games are really nerve wracking but I love them. I can't wait to see how big the crowd is going to be for the semifinal game. The crowds have gotten bigger each game so I'm expecting a lot of people. The crowds have been my favorite part of the Colisee. Our billet families are in the crowd and are the loudest. We can hear them from the ice and that is really cool. I also think it is awesome to see the billet families in our jerseys. It makes me feel like I'm a pro and have fans in the stands. I can't predict the score of the semifinal game because I don't want jinx it but if we communicate, encourage each other, and play our game, I think we will come out on top.
Friday, Feb. 22
Quebec has been a ton of fun so far. I love my billet family, the Belagers. The parents, Vincent and Julie, have been great… well all of them have been great! Our favorite thing to do is sit in the hot tub and then go roll around in the snow. The snow is so cold it feels like it is burning my skin. We try to stay in the snow as long as possible then we jump back in the hot tub. The longest any of us stayed in the snow was six seconds. They also took us to a sushi restaurant, which was awesome. I'm not sure what all of it was but it was very good!
We had our second game last night at the Colisee. It was a good game and we played OK. We need to get more shots and crash the net a lot more. Even though we won 4-2, I feel like we should have beaten them by more. We missed a lot of rebounds, which could have turned into goals. That is something we need to do in the next game. The Boston Jr. Bruins were a different team than the Austria team we played in our first game. They just play a different style of hockey. Both teams were fast which is something new to us. We don't have as much time to think about what we are going to do with the puck. We have to do a lot of dump and chase against these teams, there is no time to stick handle. I scored last night and got an assist. It was really cool to score at the Colisee. There are a lot of fans in the stands so it gets really loud when we score.
I love how our bags are delivered to every rink we play at. It makes me feel like a pro. I knew it was going to be a big tournament and a big deal, but it is even bigger than I thought. I didn't expect this when we won the Quebec Qualifier in November. I spoke to some of the guys from DU who came last year and they told me what to expect, but it is much better than they described. So far, my favorite thing we have done is win games at the Colisee.
Quebec feels very European. I love the stone walls and all the texture on the buildings. It's totally different than anything we have in Denver. There is a big church by my billet family's house. It has these high vaulted ceilings. I would love to come back here some time. I like the French culture. I especially like listening to the language. I listen and try to figure what they are saying. I would like to learn French some day, but so far the only words I have learned are merci and bonjour.
I was really nervous for the second tournament game. I was nervous because if we lost the game, I would never play at the Colisee again for the rest of my life. I wanted to make the most of it. I think I played alright but I could have played better. It was because I was so nervous. I scared myself when I was trying to take the puck around the net and I accidentally shot the puck on Addison. It took my breath away. I think I'll be just as nervous for the next big game. I really don't want to lose.
So far this is so much better than I imagined. I really didn't expect to be playing in the Colisee. In our other tournaments like Silver Sticks, we didn't play in a big arena. It's so loud and the music is my favorite part. It gets me pumped up for the next shift. I love the way we have been treated by everyone at the Colisee. Everyone is so nice to us and has been really helpful; it makes me feel like a pro. I love it.
Last night, I was so excited and really nervous at the same time. I really wanted to advance in the tournament and if we lost, we would be out so that's why I was nervous. We need to get a better start and finish stronger for the next game. We should have done both of those things in last night's game. As a whole I feel that we played well, but we will have to step it up in the next game. I think it is crazy that my mom and dad can watch me on TV all the way back in Colorado. I heard the bar at Family Sports was packed, which is really cool. At the intermission, coach told us we had played a sloppy first part of the game and we needed to tighten it up in order to win the game. I got an assist out of the game so I was happy with myself.
I am staying at Sylvie and Eric's house. They have been great and a lot of fun. Nico and I have had a blast there. We have been playing a lot of knee hockey and lots of Xbox with their sons, Gabriel and Nick. We went to sushi and the rolls were HUGE! The California roll was the best by far. We have made pancakes with maple syrup on them. The syrup is so good here; it's much better than the syrup in Colorado. There is an outdoor rink by their house, which is awesome. It's so cool that there are outdoor rinks here. It makes playing hockey so much easier. We have enough to play 2-on-2, which is fun.
Quebec is really cool; I would like to live here. There is so much hockey and I like that. The weather has been nice so far. I love the snow and it has been snowing a lot, so I've been happy. There is a lot more snow than I thought there would be. The piles around the houses are huge.
We went to the ice hotel today, which was awesome. I knew it was going to be made out of ice (obviously) but didn't realize how detailed it would be. There were normal things you would see in a house like beds, tables, and chairs; all made out of ice. There was also a slide that went through the lobby area and a working drum set all carved in the ice. It was pretty crazy. As much as I enjoyed being there for an hour and a half, there's no way I would stay there overnight, absolutely not.I'll be honest; I am not ready to leave Quebec! There is hockey everywhere here. It's so cool. We've been playing everyday, whether it's an exhibition game or two, a tournament game, or pond hockey with our billet families. My billet family practically has a pond hockey rink in their backyard. You can also see how big of a deal the pee wee tournament is here. There are a lot of people that come to the Colisee and watch every game, every day of the tournament. Knowing how important it is to everyone makes me feel really good to represent the Avalanche. It's great to be playing for Colorado. When you're playing for someone else, you play your best and leave it all out on the ice. I just hope we make everyone back home very proud by winning it all! I think we have a good chance as long as we stay rested and strong.
Wednesday, Feb. 20
#30 - Ben Reinholtz
This is the best trip I have ever been on! Really, it's the best city I've ever been to in my entire life. My billet family is awesome; I just have so much fun with them. My billet parents, Sylvain and Nancy, have made me crepes with strawberries, Nutella, and bananas. We listen to music and talk about the differences between the U.S. and Canada. I get to play mini-hockey, Xbox, and pond hockey with their two sons, Simon and Mathew. I'm having so much fun.
The other day we went to play Tagball, which is like paintball but with little foam balls instead of paint. It's less hurtful and you can reuse the ammo. It was so fun to play with my teammates and do something a little different than we would do in the U.S.
Going into the games here I've been a little nervous, but once we start playing I realize how fun it is to play in such a big arena like the Colisee. I know we just have to focus on playing our game and we'll be good. I've also noticed that the teams we've played from other countries play a little differently than we do. They move the puck faster and to be honest, are stronger than other teams we've played in tournaments within the U.S. Regardless, for our next big game I'm feeling pretty confident. We've been winning when we play how we should, so if we keep that up we should be good!
#2 - Ben Scherman
When we won the Quebec Qualifier and found out we were going to represent the Avs in Quebec, I never expected it would be this much fun. I knew we would play a lot of hockey but I didn't expect to get to do so many fun activities with my teammates. My favorite so far was the sliding hill. I had done a couple sliding hills like that before, but it just felt more special doing it in Quebec.
My billet family is awesome. I have so much fun with their two kids playing floor hockey, video games, sledding, and pond hockey. It's really cool doing the billeting; they treat us like their own kids and even let us take over their entire basement.
The other night we went to the Quebec Remparts game. I've been to a junior game in Colorado before and this was nothing like that. I couldn't believe how crowded it was - it felt like a NHL game. It was packed and the crowd was really into the game. I'm really looking forward to having more fun, playing hockey, and continuing to represent the Avs well!
#11 - Brian Wittmer
So far my favorite part of the trip to Quebec has been the games. I love the competition we have faced so far. All the teams out here are really good. I especially enjoyed the tournament game against Austria. Even though we beat them, I felt we could have beaten them by a lot more. We could have played a lot better. We really needed to pass more. I felt I played well but in the end I think I could have played better.
Quebec has been awesome. It is so different than the U.S. Everyone here has such a different lifestyle. The biggest difference is there is more hockey here than any other sport. That just blows me away. There is so much hockey around and everyone knows the sport really well. It’s a huge difference from back home. The other thing I didn't expect was the snow. I knew there would be a lot but the mounds of snow at my billet’s house are huge! I have been having a good time with my billet family. I'm staying with the Noels. They have two kids, Teri and Thomas. We have the whole basement to ourselves. We have been playing floor hockey and watching movies, it's been awesome. The pond hockey we played at the kid’s school is great too. It's really laid back; we don't have to get all the equipment on. We can just put on our skates and go play. I love that.
Today we played at the mall, which was really different. I have never played in a mall let alone a place where there is a roller coaster and a whole amusement park. The roller coaster is right over the rink, it was really cool. As much fun as it was to play there, I'm really excited to play the Jr. Boston Bruins tomorrow at the Colisee. I think we will do really well against them. We have been playing really well as a team so I am confident going into that game.
Tuesday, Feb. 19
So far this is a really fun, great experience. My billet family is really nice. They have a son, Charles, 14, and a daughter, Anne Marie, 17. We have been spending a lot of time with them and it's great. They have made us crepes, soup, sandwiches, tons of delicious food.
Quebec isn't quite like I expected it to be. I really can't believe how important hockey is here; I never knew it was SO popular. Everywhere you turn it's hockey, which of course we all love. We even went to a hockey store that was like nothing I've ever seen! A huge store with only hockey stuff, I was really impressed. I got a Quebec Nordiques hat there.
We had our first billet game on Sunday against Austria. We had butterflies in our stomachs as we were getting ready to hit the ice. It's a little intimidating playing at the Colisee for the first time. It took us a while to get used to it and at the end of the second period we were down 1-0. When we came back out for the third, we realized it was just like a game in Colorado and we started playing our game. At one point we were down one man, I had the puck and their goalie was on his stomach. I had a bad angle but I was able to get it up in the air and in the net over him. I was so happy and really excited. At that point I felt like we could win and we did, 3-2! I feel good about our next game coming up on Thursday.
So many things rushed through my head when we won the Quebec Qualifier Tournament at the Pepsi Center last November. I couldn't put it into words. To be honest I was more relieved than anything. I was really happy with how I played and couldn't have been happier with winning. All I could think about was all the things we would be doing and receiving. I was so excited for the gear and the all the fun activities we would be doing while in Canada.
After our first win at the Colisee in Quebec I feel confident we are going to do well. Playing at the Colisee felt a lot like playing at the Pepsi Center. Having a big locker room and an announcer for the games is so awesome. I also really liked the fact that we were broadcast on TV for everyone at home to watch us play. I really wasn't nervous going into the game against the Austrian team. I was more excited to show everyone there what we could do. During the second intermission of the game, we were down by a goal. In the locker room coach told us we needed to step it up and that we played a sloppy two periods. He called a few guys out and said we all needed to work the triangle, skate harder and shoot the puck. After that, he boosted us up and told us that the Austrian team was slower and that we were the better team. He also told us that we need to believe in ourselves. After winning the game I think we have what it takes to go really far in this tournament.
My billet family is the Bellerose family. They have been great, the kids are very nice and the parents are very supportive. They haven't started teaching me any French but I am learning what they are saying based on the context of what we talk about. The food is really good. I love the crepes. It's fun to load them up with toppings. So far my favorite toppings are bananas, strawberries and Nutella. The city of Quebec is way better than I imagined. I can't believe the enthusiasm everyone here has for hockey. Even the people who don't play hockey know all about the sport. They all see to really embrace it and love it a lot.
Sunday, Feb. 17
When we won the Quebec Qualifier back in November, I really felt like we had just won the Stanley Cup. I mean these are kids that I have been playing with for most of my life and a coach I've been skating for since I started playing hockey. It was a heck of an experience - I was speechless from excitement! We've all been through so much together and I couldn't wait to get to experience Quebec with them.
One of the cool things we got to do before we left for Quebec was get introduced at the February 11th Avs game. We skated out in our Avs uniforms before the game and stayed on the ice during the anthem with the pros. It was so cool to represent the Avs with the actual team right there! I can't even put into words how cool it was.
We all worked hard leading up to this tournament. I ran on the elliptical, shot pucks in my garage, and practiced as much as I could. I think we are well prepared and I am looking forward to completing this tournament as a team.
We played our first exhibition game yesterday against the NY Jr. Rangers. They are in a bracket two divisions higher than us. To be honest, I think some of the parents thought we were going to get killed but we actually hung in there really well. We had a couple mistakes but overall came through as a team and lost 3-2. It was a good experience.
For the rest of the trip, I'm just looking forward to having a good time and doing fun things with everyone - my teammates, coaches, billet family and family... and of course getting to the championship!!
Friday, Feb. 15
#10 - Alex Walsh
Our goal for the season was to win the Quebec Qualifier and represent the Avalanche at the Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament. When it actually happened, I was beyond excited. I mean this is the biggest pee wee tournament on the planet and we get to be the Jr. Avs! I knew from then on out we were going to practice even harder to be as prepared as possible.
A couple weeks before we left to come here, we got to have a clinic with a couple of the Avs players, Patrick Bordeleau and Michael Sgarbossa. Before it began, me and my teammates were patiently waiting outside the locker room to go in and change. When they opened the door to let us in, the sight took my breath away! Hanging up were brand new Avs jerseys with each of our names on them. It was amazing - all the stuff the Avs wear for us, I couldn't believe it. When we put on the jerseys we felt like the Avs, pros. It was so cool. Patrick and Michael actually played in the tournament when they were pee wees so they were excited for us since they knew what we were about to experience. The biggest tip they gave us was to close the gap faster than our opponent and get the puck away quicker so they can't get a shot off.
When I was getting ready to come here, I was so excited but also a little nervous because we're representing the Avs in the city where they started. Those are big shoes to fill! I'm looking forward to playing a lot of hockey, but also meeting other teams, and well, everything!
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