Pee wee squad hits the ice tomorrow night in Quebec City
It’s an experience this group of young hockey players and their coaches will never forget.
The Hamilton Junior Bulldogs pee wee AAA squad is in Quebec City this week taking part in what’s considered the top pee wee tournament in the world.
They open play against Detroit Belle Tire at 8 p.m. on Friday
“Our team is pretty excited about it and I think we’re ready,” said 12-year-old Mitchell Brewer a Bulldogs defenceman and team captain. “I think we can win the whole thing.”
Brewer’s optimism is well-founded.
The Bulldogs are strong from the net out and have amassed a 22-3-5 record so far this season, good for first place in the south-central loop of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association.
“The boys have worked hard this year,” said Bulldogs head coach Adam Syring. “I think we have a good chance of going deep in the tournament.”
Syring is well aware of what will be happening inQuebecand what it’s like to play or coach in front of more than 16,000 spectators at the Pepsi Coliseum.
He was the head coach of the Hamilton Reps team that went to Quebec two years ago.
Syring said he told his players not be nervous and have some fun.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the 12-year-old boys,” he said.
Syring said goalies Connor Ogg and Jordan Antonucci will both see action in the double knockout tournament.
The remainder of the team includes defencemen Seth Coulter, Cullen Ferguson, Daniel Pulsone, Zac Osborne and Ryan Mulholland.
The forwards are: Ryan Stepien, Luca Vespa, Lukas VanBerkel, Josh Houston, Lucas Thompson, Sean Golebiowski, Sean Chisholm, Chris Goodwin and Nicolas Marzilli and the assistant coaches are Cody Devine and Ryan Cipolla.
The Bulldogs are based out of the Mohawk 4 Pad Arena and the players come from Stoney Creek, Ancaster, Glanbrook, Flamborough and Caledonia.
Bulldogs general manager Chris Ogg said the club applied to play in the prestigious tournament at the end of September and were in formed that they had been accepted at the end of October.
Since then they have been fundraising to cover the $34,000 the team has budgeted to go to Quebec.
That includes the cost of ground and air transportation, hotel rooms, meals, some site seeing and the bus the team has rented to get them to their games and practices and around the old city.
“They (tournament organizers) take into account your record over the last two years and how you’ve done in tournaments,” Ogg said.
Patrick Dom, general manager of the Quebec International Pee Wee Tournament, said this year’s event features 120 teams in five divisions.
“It’s the most ever,” he said. “We had to turn down more than 160.”
About 200,000 people are expected to attend the tournament at the Coliseum and other venues between Feb. 12 and 23 said Dom, who noted each year they try to ensure that about half the team’s did not play at the tournament the previous February.
See: tournoipee-wee.qc.ca for tournament results.
Since it began in 1960, the tournament has featured more than 1,000 players who have gone on to the National Hockey League including Marcel Dionne, Guy Lafleur, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Brett Hull and Steve Stamkos.
The Hamilton Reps won the International A Division at Quebec in 1999.