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Lucky 13 Peewee AAA Trappers off to biggest tourney on the planet

North Bay and District Lucky 13 Peewee AAA Trappers head coach Bruce Cazabon talks to his team prior to a Monday practice at the Astorville arena. Photo by Chris Dawson.

North Bay and District Lucky 13 Peewee AAA Trappers head coach Bruce Cazabon talks to his team prior to a Monday practice at the Astorville arena. Photo by Chris Dawson.

It’s the largest and most high profile minor hockey tournament in the world and the North Bay Lucky 13 Peewee
Trappers will be part of it.

The North Bay and District squad coached by respected bench boss Bruce Cazabon, will be heading to Quebec City on Friday to take part in the 54th annual Quebec Peewee International Tournament.

This is a big deal.

Just ask one of the 750 plus NHL players who regularly state that this tournament was their minor hockey career highlight.

“Oh, it’s exciting, I mean if you ever get a chance to go, it’s one of the best and I got an opportunity to go twice and it lived up to its billing both times,” said Nashville Predators forward David Legwand, who played for Detroit Compuware.

“My highlight would have to be playing in the Quebec Peewee Tournament, representing the Canadiens, our first game was a real thrill against the Nordiques in Le Collisee’, it was just awesome,” said veteran Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis.

"I had lots of fun playing minor hockey, probably playing in the Quebec Peewee tournament, I played for the Mississauga Reps, and we won the tourney back in 1983 or 82 or something like that and to be that age and to be playing in front of 14 to 15 thousand people it was a great experience," said former NHLer Brendan Shanahan.

The North Bay area crew qualified for the invitation only Peewee tournament earlier this year.

The locals will open the tournament Monday as they take on the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers who are coached by former NHL and former North Bay Centennial Derian Hatcher.

The North Bay area squad comes into the even sporting an impressive 15-4-6 record which has them sitting in second spot in the Northern Ontario Major Peewee AAA Hockey League.

Cazabon’s squad is only the 3rd North Bay area team ever to compete at this legendary minor hockey event.

He hopes his team doesn’t get overwhelmed by the huge crowd that could be watching their tournament opener.

“You play in Le Colisee' (Pepsi Coliseum) and if they (Peewee Trappers) aren't too star struck when they walk out onto the ice and look around and see anywhere from 5,000 to 8,000 people watching a peewee hockey game I mean, I think its whoever can handle that kind of situation and we are playing the best team - one of the better teams in the U.S. in the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers and they are playing one of the better teams in Ontario, the Lucky 13 Peewee AAA Trappers,” said Cazabon.

“It's a one game situation and you never know what can happen."

The Trappers are hoping to win their opener in hopes of continuing to play at the Pepsi Coliseum. An opening day loss would relegate the Trappers to playing elsewhere in Quebec City and only could return to the big rink if they made it to the event final.

Regardless of the pressure to perform, it’s no doubt been a event that has been circled on the Trappers calendar.

"It's a really big deal, a lot of NHL stars have been there before and it’s an honour to even be invited to it,” said Mattawa area Peewee Trappers player Warren Huard.

"It's going to be pretty cool to see how the other teams are going to be and how we will do against them and just see what the difference is between our team and other teams in the tournament and other countries that are going to be there and stuff," said Trappers forward Gavin Shaw.

Assistant coach Scott Huycke is looking forward to the experience as well, but he’s looking forward the most to seeing the reaction from the Trappers’ when they hit the ice.

“I think they are going to enjoy it and get a lot of exposure to other teams in Canada and potentially international teams, which is going to be exciting for them so I just think all in all, as an entire team, it’s a great opportunity," said Huycke.