The Avalanche Pee Wee hockey team competed at the 2007 Quebec Pee Wee Hockey Tournament from Feb. 9-17. Here's what some of the players had to say about their experience ...
Jonathan (10 year old - host family):
I am very sad that the team is leaving after finishing the tournament but I loved having them here. I was able to learn some English with Max (Ross) and Joey (Marchese). I even taught them some French, like Joey's nickname is cheese, which is fromage in French so some people were calling him that.
I had so much fun with my billet brothers snowmobiling, playing video games, and being the referee in their knee hockey tournaments at our house. The best part of the trip though was being able to spend time with the team at the sliding hill and riding with them on the bus; then they made me an honorary coach and let me on the bench for the games on the days I was not in school.
I want to keep in contact with both Max and Cheese so I can stay friends with them and practice my English. Now I will be watching and cheering for the Colorado Avalanche because that is where my new friends are from.
Cody Thompson - 02/18/07
This trip has truly been the experience of a lifetime because we were able to see things that many people never do. I have so many great memories from this trip but really the most memorable hockey moments are when we played against the teams from the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It is something that I will never forget.
The best non-hockey memory from the trip will probably be the sliding hill. That was so much fun because they designated a ski area to tubing, I have never seen one so big before!
The other great memories that I am taking away from this experience are with my host family. They were so nice in hosting my teammate, Tyler Goff, and I. Throughout the trip they took us lots of great places and we learned quite a bit about the French-Canadian culture.
Something that really surprised me was the amount of people that go to the Colisee to watch the Pee Wee games. There were quite a few people watching our game when we played there, which was so much fun. When the Remparts, a local Pee Wee team, played there were almost as many people in the Colisee as there were for the real Remparts and it was almost completely full!
The greatest thing about this tournament is that teams come from all over the world to play each other and everyone here loves the game of hockey.
Adam Durkee - 02/17/07
Our trip is coming to an end which really is a little sad; we played our last game today at the mall. The mall is such a great place to play with all of the stores and people surrounding it. We played there against the Czech Republic and Slovakia in our last two games.
It was really rare to be able to play against these other countries because that is truly a once in a lifetime experience. We lost to the Czech team, 4 - 2, but we played very tough against them and the game was close until they scored on an empty net at the end of the game.
We also were able to play Bratislava, Slovakia and we won 7 - 2! That was a great game and we really played well. It was really amazing to play international teams because they have a different style of play they have great discipline and pass so well.
This trip is so great because we get to learn about the French-Canadian culture through our host families. My host family is so great to us especially because they are great cooks and make so many good meals. We have gone skating outside so much, which is great because we cannot do that at home very often.
This trip has been such a great experience and it is so exciting to be representing the Avalanche in this tournament, such an honor because I am a huge fan. This time has been so special because we have gotten to play international teams and other NHL sponsored teams. What a great tournament!
Brian Butterfield - 02/16/07
I think this trip is so much fun, mainly because we get to play hockey every day against some great teams but also because I am learning a lot about a different country and culture.
My host family has taken me around the city to see so much. One of my favorite things was the Winter Carnival that they have here in Quebec. There is a castle made completely out of ice, it was amazing! The St. Lawrence River is also something to see because it is not completely frozen and there are huge chunks of ice floating down the river. This is a really fun winter city!
My host family is also great cooks, we had some dishes that we put together and baked right on the table with a little tabletop oven. We made our food and baked it right there on the table in the house, that was probably my favorite meal on the trip!
This tournament is so amazing because we get to learn so much from the host families and it seems like every one here loves hockey. The father in our host family took us out to play pond hockey but we had to be sure that our feet didn't freeze. Once they were getting cold we had to go in and warm up for a little while before we were back out there again!
In our last game we were able to defeat the Nike Bauer Swarm from Connecticut. They were a very good team but we scored a short-handed goal with about two minutes remaining to win the game 3 - 2. It always feels good to win a game especially up here because the competition is so tough.
I am the only player on my team that can return to the tournament next year because I will be a Pee Wee. This has been so great an experience that I would love the opportunity to come back and win some more games in the tournament; that is the only thing I would want to do differently.
We are going to be playing some international teams by the end of the week, which should create more special experiences; I would never have these opportunities without being able to represent the Avalanche and play in this tournament!
Kyle Burkhardt - 02/14/07
This tournament has been so exciting and to share it with my teammates has been really special. It has been great for us to be around so many great teams, really the best Pee Wee teams in the world. The opportunity to wear Avalanche jerseys up here has been such an honor because we are able to represent the team and the State of Colorado.
The team just finished up at the sliding (tubing) hill at Val Cartier; this was amazing! I couldn't believe how steep the hills were and how fast we were going. There was snow flying everywhere, it was so cold but still so much fun. My eyes were almost frozen shut at the end of every hill because my eyelashes would freeze together! The best hill was one that has a huge jump in the middle of it. I was going down with Coach Ross and when we flew up in the air his inter-tube landed on top of me. No one got hurt so it was hilarious afterwards!
We played the Atlanta Fire today at Mall rink, probably one of the most fun rinks here. It is set right inside the mall. It has a roller coaster above the ice and is surrounded by stores. There were a lot of people watching the game, but definitely not as many as were at the Colisee the first game. Our team definitely came ready to play today as we were able to win 6 - 3 against another good team, and I think we can play even better than we did. It is incredible that there are so many great teams here.
My host family is very nice, caring, and they are also great cooks. I have tons of fun wrestling and playing mini hockey with their kids in the house every night. It is great because I get to learn a lot of French words; one that I will definitely remember is mon ami (my friend). The other night my family took us to a local restaurant for world famous poutine, which was delicious. I would never think about putting gravy and cheese on fries but it was really good; people definitely eat a lot of it here.
This truly is an amazing trip and such a great experience; something I will always remember!
RJ Salvato (Captain) - 02/13/07
We are so lucky as a team to be here! I have had a great time and I am so happy to be sharing this time with my teammates representing the Avalanche. We have done so much over the time we have been here and have played so many hockey games.
We played the Carolina Hurricanes and lost 3 - 1; they are a great team. We played pretty well but we had to be completely on top of our game to be able to beat them. Over this trip we have played such great teams and this is amazing experience for us because we would not be able to play this type of competition in Colorado.
Our team was able to tour the Quebec Remparts facility before their game against Rimouski Oceanic. I loved their facility, especially their locker room. They have a huge Remparts logo on the floor in the carpet of the locker room and the player's made a rule that you cannot walk on it. I had never heard of anything like that but thought that was pretty interesting; I made sure that I didn't step on the logo!
Patrick Roy took the time to come in the locker room when we were there which was a total surprise! Our team was so lucky to be able to meet him. He signed autographs, took pictures with us and talked about the tournament. I have always wanted to meet him and I will definitely remember that for a long time!
I have heard great things about my teammates host families and mine is great as well; they are always making sure that we are taken care of and actually we are being pretty spoiled. They make us great food all the time and they have a hockey rink set-up in their basement on the floor, so we play hockey with them and their kids. I love being with a host family and not staying in a hotel. We have so much more room and are able to play hockey all the time; this is definitely hockey country!
Again, this is such a wonderful experience. We are able to play against the best teams in the world and are able to meet and interact with families in Canada.
Joey Marchese (Assistant Captain) - 02/12/07
We are having a great time here in Quebec!
We were able to play the St. Louis Blues and New York Islanders Pee Wee teams in one day. We lost the first game 4 - 3 against St. Louis but we played extremely well against them. They are a AAA team and it was a great experience because we had to play our best to stay in the game.
After our first game we went to the Galeries de la Capitale, the mall here in Quebec. It was really surprising to me because they have a rink right in the middle of the mall where teams from the tournament were playing exhibition games, hopefully we will get to play there!
In the afternoon we had a game against the New York Islanders another great team. We again were playing at a high level, which was good for us, and we were able to win the game 4 - 1! It felt great to get the first win up here in Quebec and now we will hopefully continue that through the rest of the week. We have a game scheduled against another NHL Pee Wee team, the Carolina Hurricanes that will just be more great experience.
My host family is great as well! Only the mom can really speak English so I am getting to learn a lot of French words. We have a rink right outside in the backyard and are able to play pond hockey every night that we can. This is such a great experience and I am so happy to be here with my team!
Zach Geiger (Assistant Captain) - 02/11/07
Bon Jour! This tournament and experience has been so much fun so far, I am very happy and honored to represent the Avalanche organization. It was really great to see our entire team in Avalanche jerseys and we are definitely trying to represent the organization well.
Unfortunately we lost on Sunday to the Chicoutimi Sagueneens 4 - 1; that put us out of tournament play. We just weren't able to really pickup and play well until the third period when we were already down 4 - 0. It is hard being eliminated from the tournament but we are still going to be able to face some of the best teams in the world here in Quebec.
We still have quite a few exhibition games to play so the team is still looking forward to that. I am really eager to play the other NHL sponsored teams here. Over the next couple of days we are going to be playing some teams from other NHL teams which should be a great time.
One of the best parts of the trip is my host family; they are so nice and cook great meals. They even let Bobby Valdez, my roommate, and I play knee hockey in their living room. We move all the furniture to the side and play right there on the wood floor; something we definitely could not do at home! We are also going to be able to go and play pond hockey with the family and a few other host families which will be so much fun because we don't really get to play outside in Colorado.
This is truly a great experience and I am very honored and happy to be here in Quebec representing the Avalanche!
Kyle Piersky (Goalie) - 02/10/07
We arrived here on Thursday the 8th late at night because our plane was a little late and then we had a three hour bus ride to Quebec City from Montreal... It was not too bad though because we were playing games and watching a movie on the bus. When we arrived in Quebec it was wonderful to finally to see the hotel that we were staying at, the Chateau Frontenac. It is really fancy and looks like a castle; it is also right near a toboggan hill that I definitely want to try.
We had a game the next day against the Connecticut Wolves, a AAA team. After being able to sleep at the hotel we went to the Pepsi Colisee which is where the Quebec Nordiques played. It was amazing to see the amount of people in the Colisee there were other teams but there were a lot of people there just watching games. We watched a couple games and then were able to go and get dressed.
I felt really nervous putting on the Avalanche jersey although I had already worn it in practice when Peter Budaj and Paul Stastny
visited but this was totally different! Playing in front of a couple thousand people in Avalanche gear is very special. I was nervous until the puck dropped and then I was back to normal and ready to play.
We were down 2 - 0 in the second period when we scored in the final minute so we were able to go into the locker room down 2 - 1. After the intermission our team was really able to play much better and we tied the game 3 - 3. We had a few chances to score near the end of the third period but weren't able to.
Then we had to play a 5-minute overtime period of 4-on-4 where no one scored, so the game went to a shootout. I was completely ready to play that and try to finish the game with a win. I stopped the first shooter but the second shooter scored. I was able to stop the third shooter as well but we weren't able to score so we lost. However we are not out of the tournament yet. We have a game on Sunday against the Chicoutimi Sagueneens a Canadian team.
After the game we all went to dinner with our host families. They are really nice and my family is actually just a young couple that is in college. They are very fun and actually they have a Star Wars statue in their basement, which I was surprised at because I love Star Wars, and we have that in common. They also make the best French toast ever! This is so cool so far and so special to be representing the Avalanche; I can't wait for the next game!