The Little Tournament That Grew

After over forty years, the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament still offers unforgettable games and memorable moments, as thousands of players between the ages of 12 and 13 defend their team colours. Big names in hockey such as Brad Park, Guy Lafleur, the Gretzky and Howe brothers, Mario Lemieux, Eric Lindros and many others have taken part in this event at some time in their careers. Others, like Jean Béliveau, Maurice Richard and Gordie Howe have watched from the stands.

In 1960, twenty-eight Canadian and American teams participated in the first Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament. Now over a hundred teams from fifteen countries grace the ice at Colisée Pepsi.

In 1959, in the interest of fostering a social atmosphere, Father Bolduc decided to create a Pee-Wee hockey tournament in Quebec. Tired of taking his teams to Goderich, Ontario, he was determined to make the Old Capital the host of just that kind of sports event, the very next year. The tournament then became part of the Quebec Carnival celebrations held every February.

One of the very first players to take part in the tournament and then go on to reach the pinnacle of professional hockey in the NHL was Brad Park. In 1962, a young Guy Lafleur skated on the rink at the Coliseum. For the next three years (1962-1964), he was the star of the Pee-Wee tournament and scored a total of 64 goals.

Since that time, he has held the record for the best individual performance at the Quebec Pee-Wee tournament. Ten years later, in a single game, Wayne Gretzky outplayed the goalie 26 times. In 1984, Manon Rhéaume was the first girl to defend her team’s goal net. "I wanted to go to the Pee-Wee tournament, I was happy to reach my goal; then I wanted to play double AA, and then the Olympics; that was my dream" [translation] (RDS, Le Hockey sans limites) In 1989, to everyone’s great surprise, Russia and Japan took part in the tournament.

In 1975, Father Bolduc passed the torch on to Alex Légaré, who has managed the organization up until 1999. The priority then was to innovate. The tournament was to attract new teams and a greater number of spectators. Two years later, hockey games were no longer played during the Quebec Carnival. In 1980, Légaré created the American Cup and, the following year, the Quebec Cup was added to the International Class and the International Cup events.

In 1960, there were close to 20,000 spectators cheering on the little players in the tournament; as of February 2000 there have been more than 600,000. How can these young players generate so much passion and emotion? The secret to such longevity and fervour among fans lies in the very spirit of the tournament.

The work of veteran organizers and the help of the many volunteers have contributed to the international reputation of the Quebec Pee-Wee international hockey tournament.


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