Arapahoe Pee Wees return from Quebec with unique memories
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It’s one thing to travel out of state for hockey.
It’s another to travel to a different country and become immersed in that country’s culture for nearly two weeks.
In mid-February, the Arapahoe Warriors Pee Wee AA team ventured nearly 2000 miles one way to play in the 57th Annual Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament. In November, the Warriors won the Quebec Qualifier to earn the right to play in the event and represent the Colorado Avalanche.
The trip east was grueling, but well worth it, according to Arapahoe coach Sean Leonard.
“It was a long day, but the kids seemed like seasoned veterans, in my opinion,” said Leonard. “The Avalanche walked us through everything and everything was arranged for us to a ‘T,’ so we just followed their lead. It was pretty smooth getting up there, but I’m not going to lie – the kids were pretty tired – but after a couple days, they all adjusted and got healthy.”
After the first night, the players all lived with host families for the duration of their trip. Leonard saw that as the highlight of the two-week venture.
“It was just amazing for me watching the kids,” Leonard said. “Initially, I was wondering how a 12-year-old wouldn’t be nervous about billeting with an entirely different family in a different culture with a different language. But the second night we were up there, the Avalanche hosted a dinner with the families at a place called the Sugar Shack. It was a really good icebreaker and the kids all started bonding with their billet families. Once we could sit back and watch these kids take in the new culture and enjoy it, I think that was the best part of the trip for all of us.”
On the ice at the Videotron Centre, the Warriors competed in the AA division and went 1-1-0, beating the Slovakia Thunder 4-3 and then losing 7-1 to the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, the eventual champions in the AA bracket. Arapahoe also played six exhibition games and finished 1-4-1 against three teams from Canada and one each from England, New York and California.
The city of Quebec really embraced the Pee Wee tournament, added Leonard, who noted all of the games at the Videotron drew quite a crowd from the community, including school children who were bused from school to come and watch.
The Warriors are forwards Wil Beaudette, Jackson Bryant, Jack Chandler, Jonathan Cole, Levi Gauerke, Andrew Gleason, Dillon Leonard, Payne Pent and Landen Shay; defensemen Landon Boyd, Nick Chandler, Sergio Padilla, Harrison Proctor, Eugene Riewe and Dane Westen; and goalies Michael Estep and Gavin Holvick.
Leonard also said Arapahoe travel director Randy Murphy, organization goalie coach Dean Klemenz and the entire coaching staff were all contributors to the team’s success this year, in addition to the Avalanche in helping with the Quebec trip.
“The Avalanche staff of Tyler Reddy, Doug Fulton and Mark Randall did an amazing job coordinating this trip and went out of their way to make sure the kids had a blast,” noted Leonard. “It truly was the experience of a lifetime.”
In lieu of holding an end-of-season party, the Warriors decided that they would follow Avalanche forward Matt Duchene‘s lead and registered with St. Baldrick’s Foundation to participate in a “Brave The Shave” event to support finding a cure for pediatric cancer.
After learning about the relationship between Duchene and his friend, Haven Anderson, members of the squad signed up to shave their heads at Fado’s Irish Pub on March 11. They’re all a part of Team Tuesday, which is raising money to fund neuroblastoma research in the name of Tuesday Whitt, who lost her battle with the disease in 2009.
The Colorado Thunderbirds also sent their Pee Wee AAA team to Quebec and coach Matt Frick saw his team go 0-2 in the AAA division with losses to the New Jersey Devils and the South Shore Kings.
— Matt Mackinder