The 11 and 12-year-olds on the Humboldt Pee Wee AA Broncos had quite the experience in the days following Christmas when they travelled to Bemidji, MN for a high-end Pee Wee tournament.
The Paul Bunyan International Classic was in its 30th year running and consisted of 14 teams from Minnesota and North Dakota that were joined by two more teams from Canada.
The Broncos finishes with a 2-3 record through the 5 games played, including a 2-1 record in the round robin, good for a 2nd place finish in the pool. However, the most important thing the young hockey enthusiasts will take away from it wasn't the wins, it's an experience of team bonding and tough competition that will last much longer.
"It felt like our team turned a page down there. The off-ice team building in terms of being with each other for four days, the long bus rides, doing everything together each and every moment for the weekend really helped our group. No doubt in my mind these kids will remember that experience for the rest of their lives, as will the coaches and parents that were able to attend," said Head Coach Maury Simoneau.
With team bonding also came solid competition that will help the kids grow as hockey players.
"There were some teams that were certainly strong. We stacked up well against the teams that we played, and we had competitive close games which is all you can ask for."
The kids also all got to take in a pizza party with the host team from Bemidji, with whom the Broncos bonded very well with.
"It was really cool to see the kids on our team and their team bond so quickly. They got to hang out with each other, talk about the differences between Canada and the United States, and how their seasons are going. We left them some helmet stickers and Canada hats that the Bemidji players really liked. That's something really special and something the kids will remember. The Bemidji team would cheer us on for most of our games as we went on the ice, so certainly, some friendships were made. It was just a totally awesome experience the whole way through."
The Pee Wee AA Broncos are now back in Humboldt and resume their regular season schedule on January 5th on the road against Melfort.