The Nashville Jr. Predators returned to their homes Tuesday after spending ten days in Quebec for the 2013 International Peewee Hockey Tournament where over 125,000 people watched the tournament unfold. Teams from all over the world including England, Switzerland, Germany and Austria showed up to represent their countries.
The Jr. Predators were invited to this tournament and didn't have to qualify to enter. Head coach of the team Jamie Herrington believes it is great for the city of Nashville to be noticed as a hockey town. "It is great the state of Tennessee and the Jr. Predators to be recognized around the world," said Jamie Herrington.
"It was an amazing experience to live through it for 10 days. It was a great trip, great hockey experience, and great life experience."
In total, the '00 Peewee Jr. Predators played thirteen games finishing with a record of 7-3-1. The Jr. Preds had a slow start their trip by losing two of their first three games in two days. However, brighter roads awaited ahead as they won five of the last six games in the tournament with the one they didn't win being a tie against the Swiss Eastern Selects.
Of course every kid dreams of playing in the Winter Classic, so the tournament provided the Jr. Preds a chance to do so against a team in the Canadian province of Quebec.
Not only did they get to the chance to play in an outdoor hockey game, which is nearly impossible in Middle Tennessee, they played in three other arenas with two of them standing out. The '00 Elite team faced off against the Boston Jr. Bruins in the Colisee Pepsi, home of the QMJHL's Quebec Ramparts and former home of the WHA and NHL's Quebec Nordiques.
(Photo by: Yanik Magnan/Flickr)
The other arena the team played in was not an arena at all, but rather a mall. Yes, a mall. In the middle of the Galeries de la Capitale was an ice rink surrounded by 280 stores and 35 restaurants. There, the kids won three of four games.
A very recognizable name around the NHL and in Quebec is Jean-Pierre Dumont. The ex-Nashville Predator helped out the team prepare for the tournament, like he once did when he was younger. "JP is a tremendous ambassador for the game in Nashville," said Herrington. "He was a tremendous help in translating the language barrier for our families and players who were there."
"He is a great individual who carries himself with class."
Every year at this tournament, there is an event where all the teams come together to have fun and meet each other by exchanging teams pins. Players were able to talk to each other and connect by gaining a collection of pins from the teams who participated in tournament. Of course while connecting with other players from around the world, the Jr. Preds were able to pick up a little bit of other languages.
"Many of them learned small phrases of French. However, for the [German] and Swiss languages, it was a bit difficult," said Herrington.
Even after the tournament is over and long gone, what will be remembered, and certainly what is most important, is the kids had fun being in the tournament and being in a different culture.
Throughout the tournament, the players stayed with Quebec host families where they experienced the difference from life in Tennessee.
"The kids had a great time," said Herrington. "There is so much going on at an event like this and is great to take in a great hockey culture in Quebec."