Xavier Parent participated in the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament three times as a young hockey player. The news of the tournament’s cancellation in February 2021 left him reminiscing about his own experience.
Parent is entering his fourth year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). He’s also about to play in his second year for the Sherbrooke Phoenix. While he currently plays at one of the highest levels, he still remembers winning the tournament years ago.
“I think I played in front of more people at that tournament than now in junior, so when you’re a kid and you see that many people in the stands; it’s pretty incredible,” Parent said.
The 19-year-old Phoenix forward won the tournament in his third go at the international competition in Quebec City. He hoisted the championship trophy under the Blainville Armada banner, which is also a club in the QMJHL.
Parent, who was the captain that season, made a decision early in the year to remain at the peewee level, alongside another Phoenix forward, Samuel Poulin. There was some unfinished business, he explained, as his team lost the finals in his first tournament.
“It was a big part of our decision to stay in peewee to win the tournament,” he said. Poulin and Parent were able to stay on the team because they were underage players when they first joined the team at 10 years old.
In a phone interview with The Record, Parent recalled winning a nail-biting shootout during the championship run. It was the second game of the tournament, he said, and if they had lost there’s a strong chance they never would have reached the finals.
Poulin also remembers that game. The 19-year-old forward, selected in the first round of the 2019 National Hockey League entry draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, called it the team’s make-or-break moment.
The game was played in front of roughly 12,000 people, according to Poulin. It was an important game in the tournament and Blainville was highly touted, having lost a handful of games all season. But the team had nerves of steel that year, he concluded.
“It can make you nervous, but we were just so focused on winning and our coach was really good at preparing us for the games,” said Poulin. “We were ready and we weren’t focusing on the crowd anymore.”
Importance of tournament for young players
Both players acknowledged the importance of the tournament for young hockey players. It didn’t necessarily shape their career paths – they both had dreams of playing in the NHL long before the tournament – but for many kids it happens once in a lifetime.
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