First tournament game is Friday against Zurich Lions from Switzerland
A Summerside team is competing in one of the most recognized youth hockey tournaments in the world.
The Capitals are the P.E.I. representative in this year’s Quebec international peewee tournament in Quebec City.
“It’s a pretty cool experience to be able to do this,” said Capitals left-winger and team captain Lincoln Waugh of Wilmot Valley. “Every seven years Summerside gets to go (as the P.E.I. representative rotates each year), and luckily it landed on our year. “It’s going to be cool to be able to play different teams from around the world.”
The last time a Summerside team competed in 2012, it returned home with the championship banner for the International B Division.
The Caps travelled on Tuesday, and their first exhibition game against the Arizona Bobcats on Wednesday was cancelled due to the weather. Summerside will play the Carolina Junior Panthers in an exhibition game Thursday, before opening tournament play against the Zurich Lions from Switzerland on Friday.
“Depending on how we do in that game it will dictate on when our second game is,” said Summerside head coach Andrew Griffin. “It’s a tournament where there is a two-game elimination.”
Griffin admitted this tournament has been a hot topic of conversation between the players for a long time.
“I’m very excited,” commented goaltender George Gallant of Summerside. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and there will be some tough teams there.”
Just how big of an event is this tournament?
“It’s known as probably the biggest peewee tournament in the world,” answered Griffin in an interview with the Journal Pioneer before a recent practice at Credit Union Place’s Ice Pad. “This year is its 60th anniversary, so there are a few little extra special events.
“If you go through the tournament each year, there are 15 to 20 players that ended up making it to the NHL. Any name you can think of in the NHL played in this tournament.”
As the P.E.I. representative, the Capitals will be wearing the uniforms of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Charlottetown Islanders.
“Basically, what happens, is each province sends a representative of their major junior team,” said Summerside head coach Andrew Griffin.
For example, Griffin noted, the Nova Scotia representative will wear Halifax Mooseheads’ jerseys and the New Brunswick team will don the colours of the Moncton Wildcats.
The Capitals were recognized at a recent Islanders’ game for their upcoming participation in the Quebec tournament.
Play in NHL-ready arena
One of the highlights is the opportunity to play in the 18,000-seat Videotron Centre, home of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Quebec Remparts. The facility will be the site for Summerside’s game against Zurich.
“That’s going to be a pretty cool experience to play in an NHL-sized rink,” said Waugh, a Grade 7 student at Summerside Intermediate School. “All the rooms have stalls like an NHL rink.”
As for the level of competition, Griffin said the Caps really don’t know what to expect.
“We are going to go up and control what we can control, which is our work ethic and making sure we are doing what we are supposed to do,” said Griffin.
Gallant and Waugh are looking forward to playing teams they normally would not have the opportunity to face.
“A lot of the players up there are going to be really good,” said Gallant, a Grade 7 student at Athena Consolidated School in Summerside. “It’s going to be tough competition.”
Waugh, who is looking forward to pin trading, added, “It’s going to be cool to see how all the other teams play from other places.”
More than hockey
However, this prestigious tournament is more than just hockey.
“The whole thing is about the experience,” said Griffin. “The results will be what they will be, but we want the kids to really have an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives, and the parents as well.
“By talking to past participants of this tournament, they are in their 20s now, and they are still talking about this tournament and what a great experience it was.”
Former NHLers who played in Quebec peewee tournament: