CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Sunday, Feb. 20 is a day Charlotte youth hockey players Brad Ingersoll and Kyle Moore won’t soon forget. The two friends and teammates at Extreme Ice Center were part of the Junior Hurricanes team that won the International-B bracket at the 52nd annual Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament.
The 12-day tournament, which gathers 11 and 12-year olds from around the World is one of the most famous hockey competitions in the sport and has hosted many NHL alumni, including Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Eric Lindros, Ron Francis and Hurricanes rookie forward Jeff Skinner, among countless others.
“It was amazing,” says Moore, whose Dad Eric drives the Zamboni at Checkers games. “The hockey was great, the championship was awesome and we were all so excited.”
Moore’s brother Bryan also participated in the tournament, in 2006, and last year became the first ever player from Charlotte youth hockey programs to be drafted into the Canadian Hockey League.
Both Moore and Ingersoll were second-year players who participated in the tournament last year as rookies and used the experience to their advantage this time around.
“It was better being a second-year guy,” remarks Ingersoll, one of the team’s assistant captains. “Last year we didn’t know what to expect but this time we did so we could focus on the hockey a little more.”
Ingersoll’s remarks are likely referring to the atmosphere and crowd sizes, which average in the 8,000-10,000 range in the semi-finals and finals.
The Junior Hurricanes posted a perfect 6-0 record through their bracket and a 4-0 record in exhibition games, in what was their 10th consecutive appearance at the tournament and first ever championship. The team outscored its opponents 32-6 in its six games, earning wins against teams as far west as Anaheim and Salt Lake City and as far east as England and Switzerland.
Mitch Hodgkiss, a Checkers season ticket holder and local youth hockey coach, was the team’s assistant coach and says it was definitely something he’ll never forget.
“Those were pretty crazy games. The atmosphere was unbelievable.”
Hodgkiss was even more impressed with the reception he and his players received upon their return to the airport in Raleigh.
“It was pretty cool. The kids walked out with their banner and 60-70 people greeted us along with Hurricanes staff members.”
The boys are now back in Charlotte and have returned to school and normal, everyday life. They have a medal to hang on the wall, a trophy at the RBC Center and memories that will last a lifetime. And no matter what happens in their future hockey careers, they’ll remember the time they, along with their friends in Raleigh, showed the rest of the World that hockey is alive and well in North Carolina.
More information regarding the team and tournament results can be found here, courtesy of the Carolina Hurricanes.