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Postcards From Quebec

Pee Wee Players Chime in With Their Thoughts on the Tournament

Monday, 02.23.2009 / 10:10 AM / Features
By ColoradoAvalanche.com - Official Site of the Colorado Avalanche
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Postcards From Quebec
The Avalanche Pee Wee team placed 2nd overall in the B Division at the Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament. The event, which is broken down into three classes – AA, B, and C – is one of the largest and most prestigious Pee Wee tournaments in the world. This year’s B division encompassed 28 teams from the United States, Canada, Slovenia, Germany, Austria, England, and Switzerland.

February 22, 2009 - #18 Travis Work
This experience has been great! Sunday we played in the B-Division championship against the Hershey Bears, but we lost 3–1. Hershey was a very good team. They passed the puck really well and were pretty fast. We got behind 2-0 in the first period and it was tough to come back although we gave it our all. Even though we didn’t win the championship and the gold medal, we were the runner-up in the B division. That was a great thing for us because there are only three divisions here – AA, B, and C. There are over a hundred teams in those three divisions and only six teams received medals. A bunch of our host families were talking about how special that was because none of them ever had kids that made it that far. All of the hockey we have played here has just been amazing and we have learned so much!

My host family was really nice and they fed us so well every morning. I am going to miss them and I know that they helped us so much in becoming the second place team. I am also going to miss their snowmobiles. I had never driven a snowmobile before this trip and it was a little scary at first trying to get used to the steering but it was so much fun! I am a first year Pee Wee, so I can come back again next year. If I do, I would love to stay with my host family again.

I am really going to try hard to come back to the tournament next year. I am going to lead my team into the Quebec Qualifier next year knowing all about this experience and I will be able to share it with them. Hopefully I will be able to lead us to victory because I want to try to come back and win the championship next season.

I want to thank the Avalanche for this experience; it has been so much fun and is something I will never forget!

February 22, 2009 - #8 Derek Hammer
On Sunday we played in the championship game against the Hershey Junior Bears. It was really incredible to play in the Colisee again; it was so packed! The fans were pretty loud so I was a little nervous in the beginning but after the first shift I was fine. Before the game, Joe Sakic called our team to wish us luck and tell us to play to win. That was really cool of him to do that and meant a lot to our team. The game was really fun; it was definitely my favorite game of the tournament because we were in the finals of the biggest Pee Wee tournament in the world. I scored a goal in the 3rd period and we played as a team and worked hard but Hershey won 3-1 and we took 2nd in the tournament’s B division. Even though it was a tough loss, I was still happy because we made it all the way to the finals.
 
My favorite parts of this trip have been playing hockey and staying with my billet family. They took my roommate us snowmobiling and made us all kinds of really good food. We built some forts in the snow, which was awesome because in Colorado we don't have as much snow to do that kind of stuff. It was a great experience to get to know them and I was sad that I had to say goodbye.
 
This has been awesome to represent the Avalanche at this tournament. I feel proud to have made it this far. After our first tournament game I didn't really expect to get very far, but after how we played in our second tournament game I thought we had a good chance. My teammate, Travis Work, and I are both playing Pee Wee again next season. We are really hoping to win the Quebec Qualifier and come back to take 1st!

February 21, 2009 - #89 Tyler Taylor
Saturday we had a tournament game in the morning against the Atlanta Fire. If we won we would stay in the tournament and play again that afternoon in another tournament game against either Boston or England. Going into the game we felt confident that we had a good chance at winning. We passed the puck, tried really hard and worked well as a team. It all paid off and we won 4-1. It was such a great feeling but I think we all knew we couldn't get too excited because we had another game to play and win.
 
We went back to the hotel to eat spaghetti and get some rest before our semifinals game in the afternoon. We found out that England had beat Boston so we were excited to play another international team. Going into this game I knew it would be a tough one, but again felt confident that we could take it. We got a lot of shots on net and scored two quick goals in the first period. I think those two goals were important because they gave us energy and more confidence. Our goalie Jimmy was a huge factor in this game too. He had some really great saves and we ended up winning, 4-0.
 
So, Sunday we are headed back to the Colisee for the championship game. I really can't believe it. I honestly didn't think we would make it this far, but it is so much fun to win and we all want it really bad. The game will be tough though; we are playing the Hershey Bears and they are a great team. I have heard that the Colisee is packed for the finals, so we will probably be nervous but it will be fun and I think we will win!
 
I am so happy with what we have accomplished as a team. I think we have come a long way and really improved while we have been in Quebec. The trip hasn't been exactly what I would have expected; I didn't think my host family would be so great, and I wasn't expecting to get this far in the tournament. My host family is amazing and we are playing in the championship so I couldn't be happier! It is an awesome and exciting experience to represent the Avalanche!

February 20, 2009 - #19 Mike Watson
This trip has been great, because we are experiencing so much. The hockey experience we are getting is so huge. We are playing teams from all over the world, and doing really well in the tournament. We played our third tournament game on Friday morning and won 4-1 against Acadia Titans, a team from New Brunswick. Our team played really well because we are starting to move the puck a lot more than we did when we first got here.  The teams are so good and we have to play hard every game to win. Playing a game every day against the teams up here definitely has made us get better and better each day. 

We play our fourth tournament game in the quarterfinals on Saturday against the Atlanta Fire. It’s just another game and nothing to get too nervous about as long as we play like we have been. I am looking forward to playing because if we win then we move on to the semifinals and have a shot to play in the championship on Sunday at the Colisee.

My billet family is awesome, and is so much better than staying in a hotel. I want to play juniors in a few years so this experience gives me a great perspective on billeting, which I would do if I played juniors somewhere. Our billet mom is so nice and makes us food that we have never had before. The first morning we were here she made us crepes. I absolutely loved them, and I think they are now my favorite breakfast!

This tournament is just absolutely way beyond anything I ever expected! There are seven to eight thousand people watching games at the Colisee every night and it is really fun to hear the cheers of the crowd for the local teams.    

February 20, 2009 - #53 Brennan Ward
There is so much great hockey up here and we have experienced so many great things.  Coming to Quebec, I really didn’t know anything about their culture or the way they did things. It’s been interesting to figure out how things work up here and to get used to a different environment. 

Some of the best experiences from the trip have come from our billet family. They make us so comfortable and it is really fun to be at their house because they have three boys.  We play mini hockey in the basement of their house every night and get some good games going; we also mix in some video games when we get tired. The food here is so good too. Our billet family makes us crepes and hot chicken sandwiches. I didn’t know that hot chicken sandwiches meant a sandwich coming with gravy on top, but it is really good.

A non-hockey experience that was really fun was the sliding hill. It’s like a mini-ski resort for just tubing and I really liked it because we got to just go there and do whatever we wanted. The trip is really structured but sometimes we get to get away and do our own thing, like at the sliding hill. We also went to a museum today and learned about the history of Canada and Quebec. I didn’t know how Quebec or Canada started so it was interesting to learn the history.

Overall I am having a great trip and I don’t want it to end.  We play another really important game soon and I am ready to go!

February 19, 2009 - #12 Riley DeFazio
This has been a great experience being in Quebec and playing in the tournament. It's so cool to play teams from different countries like Switzerland, Austria and Canada. It is also my first time visiting another country and I am happy it's in Canada because of the long hockey history.
 
We have done so many fun things like go-karting, going to the ice hotel and today tubing, but I think my favorite part of the trip is hanging out with my billet family. They are really fun and make delicious pizza! We played their son Charlo's team yesterday in an exhibition game. At first we weren't playing as well as usual, but we came back to win in a shootout. Charlo is leading his division in the tournament in scoring so it was fun to see him play.
 
Friday we have our third tournament game and it is against the Acadia Titans who are from New Brunswick. It is an important one because if we lose we are out and if we win we advance to the quarterfinals. I think we have a good chance; we just have to play hard and concentrate on defense and getting the puck in the net. It really just comes down to who ever wants the game more will win and we want it pretty bad!
 
February 19, 2009 - #24 Cole Buller
Canada pretty much revolves around hockey and I love it! There are ice rinks and frozen ponds everywhere and it is so fun. I have noticed that the Canadian teams play at a higher level so it feels great when we get a win against one of them. We are doing pretty well; I've done bad in some games but good in others. I played well against our billet family's team; I had a goal and an assist so that was awesome.
 
There is so much snow here! It started snowing yesterday and so much has already built up. Lots of snow means lots of fun stuff for us to do like pond skating and tubing. I like pond skating because the ice is fun, it's good practice and there are no rules! Our billet family has taken us a couple of times. Also, the team went to a tubing place today that was really fun. You would get towed up to the top of the hill and then slide down on your tube really fast. There was one run called Everest that was a huge slide that went straight down. We got in a train of four guys and went down as fast as we could. It was awesome!
 
In our tournament game on Friday I think we need to be aggressive, pass a lot, work together and get the puck in the net! If we do that we have a great chance at winning. It will be a big day for us!
 
February 18, 2009 - # 25 Ryan Case:
I am having so much fun in Quebec! The best parts so far are playing lots of hockey and hanging out with my crazy teammates. I can see that playing so much hockey every day is really helping us all improve and become better players. We had a game today that was tough at first, but then we exploded and dominated the game. I had two goals and we ended up winning 6-1. It was weird because we played in the mall and there was a lot going on around us so we had to stay focused on the game.

We have another game against the team that some of the billet families’ kids play on. My billet family's kid, Francis, plays on it and his older brother, Gabriel, will be refereeing, so it should be fun. Riley DeFazio and Cole Buller bet their billet family that we would win or they will shovel the snow from the driveway. It's supposed to snow 6 inches tonight! Francis' dad François thinks the Avalanche will win 6-4, so we will have to wait and find out!
 
We have done a lot of fun stuff other than hockey too. We went to the ice hotel and it was amazing. There were different rooms that had themes like a Nordiques room, the Peewee Tournament room and even a room with Stastny and Goulet jerseys carved into the walls. There was a slide going through the walls in the lobby that was totally addicting. At first it kind of hurt to go down a slide made of ice, but none of us could stop going down! It was so fun!
 
We are going tubing and I am really looking forward to it. Other than that I am hoping we will win some more games and keep having fun!
 
February 18, 2009 - #4 Conor Chmelka:
 On Tuesday we got to do something really cool; Patrick Roy has a team that plays in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League here called the Quebec Remparts and we got to tour their locker room. They made us take off our shoes before we went in and warned us not to step on the logo on the carpet. I guess the Avalanche has that rule too and they seem to take it pretty seriously. We also saw Jonathan Roy's jersey hanging up so that awesome. Later that night we went to their game against the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, which the Remparts won 8-2. The Colisee was packed for the game and people here love the Remparts so it was really fun.
 
We had an exhibition game against the Stoufville Clippers, which we played in the mall. There was a big roller coaster that went right above the rink and some other rides near where we were playing so it was definitely a challenge to maintain focus and only concentrate on the game. But I was in goal and we ended up winning 6-1, so it felt great to get a big win like that. I feel like we worked hard and were simply the better team. We came out ready to win because we had experienced a couple of hard losses in the past few days and we got it done. It was great.
 
It's been really good to spend time with my teammates while being in Canada. We travel to a few tournaments a season but this one is just different. For one, we stay with billet families instead of hotels, but also because Quebec is such a different place than what we are used to. I lived in British Columbia for a while, so I knew what Canada was like, but Quebec is totally different. Everyone here speaks French and it is a lot more city-like than BC is. I really love it.
 
February 17, 2009 - #2 Garrett Orth
The trip is actually even more fun than I expected. My billet family has 4 kids and they have taken us out to eat, to a pond to play hockey and to a party with other billet families. My roommates (Jessica and R.J.) and I are having so much fun with them.
 
It means a lot to represent Colorado and the United States in this tournament. I can't believe how many teams there are from all over the world. We have seen teams from Mexico, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, just to name a few. It's so awesome! I am having a really fun time and everything is so exciting. I think the best part is staying with a Canadian family that speaks French and playing teams from other countries. I'm really learning a lot about the people here; things are quite a bit different than back home.
 
We played a Swiss team yesterday in an exhibition game and they were really good. We played okay for a while but then they scored a couple goals. It was interesting to hear the players speak a different language on the ice. We ended up losing 3 - 0, but I think we played hard and it was a great experience to play a European team.
 
I'm looking forward to a lot but hopefully our trip will end with us playing in the championship game. To get there though we have to start by winning our next tournament game on Friday, so we will have to play really hard!

February 16, 2009 - #38 Jimmy Kellen
I am having an amazing time in Quebec. It is so fun and really interesting to travel to a place that is so different from home. There is so much snow! In Colorado it seems like it snows and then all melts away the next day, but here it just piles up and doesn't seem to melt barely at all.
 
My billet family is really nice. They have three kids, two girls and one boy that is my age. We went out on their snowmobiles on Sunday, which was awesome. It was my first time and I loved driving fast through the snow. I'm really looking forward to getting to know them more, and doing some different things like pond skating.
 
We played our second tournament game Sunday against Quebec Frontenac.  They are a really good team and I was in goal so I knew the pressure was on. Throughout the game I just maintained my focus and worked hard to make stops. Our defense played well and really helped in shutting down their team, 2-0. It was such a great game and we were all pretty happy about it.
 
Monday we got to go visit the Ice Hotel. It was so cool! It is an actual hotel built out of ice with rooms people can stay in and everything. There were ice sculptures everywhere and in the lobby they had even built a slide we could go down! It was so fun, I can't wait to see what other stuff we get to see and do.
 
February 16, 2009 - #77 Jessica Hammer
This is my first time in Quebec and it is really fun! The city is so pretty and I can tell there is a lot of history here. It's really cool to be sponsored by the Avalanche and be able to play in this huge tournament. I am proud the wear the Avalanche jersey and represent Colorado. It's really the best thing ever.
 
So far I have had fun hanging out with my billet family and playing in the games. In the games we’ve won, our defense has played better which will be the key for our upcoming games. We will have to keep up our effort for Friday's tournament game, focus on putting the puck in the net, and keeping it out of our zone.
 
It's been really interesting to meet other teams and get to know kids from other countries. We have these Avalanche pins that we trade with kids for their team's pin and even though sometimes it's hard because we speak different languages, it's been a great way to meet new people. It kind of forces you to talk to people you might not have normally.
 
At the ice hotel we went to on Monday we were all amazed at how incredible it was. I don't think we were expecting it to be so cool. I had fun looking at the different rooms and going down the slide in the lobby. I think I would stay there for one or two nights, but sleeping on a bed made of ice for more than that sounds a little too cold for me!
 
On Tuesday we play a team from Switzerland in an exhibition game and I am really looking forward to it! Wish us luck!

February 15, 2009 - # 68 David Dziezawiec
The trip so far has A-OK! It's really an honor to wear the Avalanche jersey and be a part of this historic tournament. I really love it all.
 
Saturday we had an exhibition game that was fun because we beat a Canadian team. I think we had good teamwork and passed a lot so it paid off in the end. After that we went go-karting, which was awesome. Then we met up with our billet families and headed back to their houses. My roommate Marcus and I actually have to take a ferry across the river to get to our billet family's house. The river is still kind of frozen and as the boat goes across it breaks up the ice so that was cool to watch.
 
When we got to our billet family's house we had a great dinner. They made us mashed potatoes and pork with gravy. And to top it off we got chocolate fondue and cake for dessert! It was all really delicious. After eating Marcus and I rocked out playing Rock Band. I played drums and Marcus played guitar. Marcus only got a 10% so I am thinking he should stick to hockey and not become a musician. The whole night was awesome!
 
Sunday night we played our second tournament game and won 2-0 against Quebec Frontenac! It was awesome! The stands were packed and I think hearing our fans cheer really made a difference in our play. Our billet families were also there so their support really helped us out. The team we played was very good; they are ranked 1st in their division in the whole province of Quebec. It means a lot to beat a team that is ranked so high and we are pretty proud!
 
I'm looking forward to a lot while being here, but mostly winning more games (and hopefully the tournament), visiting the ice hotel and other snow events. Go Avalanche!
 
February 15, 2009 - #49 Brandon Tucker:
This is my first time in Canada and I am having a pretty spectacular time. The game we played Saturday was great. We worked hard as a team, skated fast, and put the puck in when we got a chance. We also got to go go-karting which was great even when I ran into the back of my teammate's little brother and sent his helmet flying 10 feet in the air. He's a tough kid though and didn't seem to care too much.
 
I'm also having a great time with my billet family so far. The family has two boys, 12 and 16, and I am having a good time getting to know them. Francis is the 12-year old and he loves to sing. He was singing the Katie Perry song "I Kissed a Girl" and it was so funny. Gabriel is the 16-year old and he just got his driver's license. He drove my roommate and I from the Colisee yesterday and he was a pretty good driver. I saw he was going 100 kilometers per hour, but I don't really know how that fast that is in miles per hour.
 
Sunday night, my billet family had sort of a party where two of the other billet families came over with some of the parents from our team. For dinner we all ate fondue that you could cook raw pieces of meat in before eating it. I had never had fondue like that and it was delicious. The boys and I played knee-hockey while the parents hung out so it was really fun.
 
Sunday morning after having pancakes for breakfast our billet family took us snowmobiling! It was so cool! We went to this huge snow-covered field and they even let me drive my own snowmobile. I had gone once before when I was three years old but couldn't even see over my dad's head then so this was an awesome experience.
 
We won our second tournament game and I couldn't be happier about it. The team we played was really good but we worked as a team and pushed hard to take the W. Jimmy, our goalie, was great and we shut them down 2-0. It felt great and I can't wait to play our next tournament game on Friday.

February 14, 2009 - #69 Jonathan Gerrett
The trip to Quebec has been really fun so far. I met my billet family Friday night and they are great, I am really excited to get to know them a little better. The family has two boys, 10 and 12, so I think it will be interesting to learn about kids my age from a different country. I don't speak French except for the few words they have taught me and they only speak a little English but somehow we are still able to get to know each other. Besides being hockey players, we're actually pretty similar in some ways - like for breakfast this morning I know some of the guys had things like crepes or even pizza, but we just had some cereal.
 
We had an exhibition game on Saturday afternoon, which we won; it was good to get that after a hard loss yesterday. I think we were pretty nervous playing at the Colisee with all the people watching and everything going on there. We were able to change our game a bit and pass the puck a lot more. We really worked much better as a team. We'll definitely have to keep that going for our tournament game on Sunday afternoon.
 
After the game we went and did the best thing ever- go-karting!  It was so fun to go really fast and run my friends into the walls. I ended up taking 3rd and the whole thing was such a blast. I think we are going to get to do a lot of fun stuff like that while we are in Quebec. I'm really looking forward to seeing the ice hotel. But besides that stuff I can't wait to win more games, have fun with my team and get to know my billet family.
 
Oh yeah, Happy Valentine's Day to everyone. I have a few valentines back in Colorado that I'm sure are missing me, but I made sure to take care of them before I left!
 
February 13, 2009 – #39 RJ Haenze III
Today was the first day that we have been able to play a game in the tournament. First we had a morning skate at an old ice rink. It was good to be able to get out on the ice and get stretched out. After that it was back to the hotel for some rest and food. 

The Colisee was amazing. There were so many people there and I think it made some of us nervous because there were more people there than have ever been to any of our games. We started out a little slower than we should have against the Carolina Hurricanes and ended up losing 3-1. Although we tied the score up 1–1 in the first period we made some mistakes on line changes and gave up two goals that we shouldn’t have. We are still in the tournament and we have an exhibition game on Saturday morning, so that will be a good chance to start playing the way we should. 

I have just met my billet family and I am really excited to spend some time with them. I am really curious to see their house and how they live. My family has four children, two of which are boys that play hockey so I am sure that we will have a lot of fun. My family doesn’t speak much English but I am really looking forward to learning some French.  I want to be able to speak some French when I leave here next week. I also cannot wait to see the Ice Hotel. I hear there are people that actually sleep there and I want to see how it is built and how people can sleep in something made out of snow and ice.

I think that this tournament is really special. It really makes me feel great to wear the Avalanche sweater out on the ice. When I put it on I feel like a professional and that really means the world to me. Not only do we get to wear the Avalanche uniform, but we will also get to play teams from other countries and other NHL clubs. I am really excited to play some more games.

February 12, 2009 – #11 Marcus Martin-Wegryn
As the Avalanche Pee Wee team arrives in Quebec City for the 50th Annual Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament, #11 Marcus Martin-Wegryn discusses his pre-tournament experience and excitement:

Winning the Quebec Qualifier this year was a great accomplishment for our team. It means a lot to my teammates and me to represent the Colorado Avalanche because we are representing not only Colorado Springs; we are representing all of Colorado. My friends, family, and teachers back home are all so excited and maybe a bit jealous that I was able to come to this tournament, which just shows how special it is.

T.J. Hensick (pictured), John-Michael Liles and Peter Budaj spent some time on the ice with the Avs' Pee Wee Team before the squad departed for Quebec
Coming to Quebec is such a great opportunity, but we had special experiences even before we left Colorado. We first were introduced at an Avalanche game on February 2nd.  It was amazing to be able to skate out onto the ice, have our team introduced, and stay on the ice with the Avalanche for the National Anthem. I was definitely nervous about it but it is something I will never forget. When we came off the ice we had another surprise, as we were able to meet Joe Sakic. This was especially incredible for me because he has been my favorite player and I have always wanted to meet him. Joe talked about the tournament with us for a few minutes and wished us luck, pretty special coming from him. Besides meeting Joe Sakic, my favorite activity before we left was skating with Peter Budaj, John Michael Liles, and T.J. Hensick. It was really interesting to skate with the guys because we were able to see their abilities up close. They also shared some tips; one that I will work on is clearing out guys from the front of the net, which is really important as a defenseman.

Click here to see a photo gallery from that practice

I know that this trip and this tournament will be very special and will be filled with memories. The thing that I am most looking forward to is playing games against teams from other countries, because besides this tournament I don’t think we would have the ability to do that anywhere else. I am really just excited to see what this trip has to offer. Tomorrow is our first tournament game against the Carolina Hurricanes; I am really ready to play!

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