They say that hockey is not for the faint of heart, and if you ever needed a game to prove that, tonight’s contest between the New York Pee Wee Rangers and Gatineau Olympiques would be the one. Simply put, it was a thriller and every bit as demanding as the Rangers coaching staff had told the team to expect. The Olympiques, a highly regarded team from just outside the Canadian capital of Ottawa, had a reputation as fast and relentless, and they were all that.
For each team, a win would mean the right to continue in the tournament. A loss would mean a ticket home.
The Arpidrome in the Quebec City suburb of Charlesbourg seats about a thousand, and it was filled with family, friends, and fans of both teams. Once again, cheers of “Let’s Go Rangers!” echoed across the arena. However, those cheers were momentarily stilled when Gatineau took a 1-0 lead just three minutes in to the first period. But less than two minutes later Pee Wee Rangers captain Christian Jiminez stormed up the ice, cut in on goal, and banged home his own rebound to tie the game at one. Two minutes later the captain made a beautiful cross ice pass, Jack Gorton swept it over to David Chen, and, all of a sudden, it’s 2-1 Pee Wee Rangers. Then, less than two minutes after that, another score – Zack Tonelli to Anthony Cipollone in the slot; Cipollone controlled the puck and fired on net. The Gatineau goalie makes the save but Hunter Rossi is all over the rebound, and just like that it’s 3-1 New York just 8:30 into the game.
The Olympiques scored early in the second period to make the score 3-2. Gatineau soon had a chance to add more on a powerplay, but Hunter Rossi displayed the kind of effort the Pee Wee Rangers were making this night when he sprawled in front of a slapshot from the point to help kill the penalty. The second period finished with the score 3-2 in favor of the Pee Wee Rangers.
Just four minutes into the third period, the Rangers extended their lead when Aidan Cobb took a beautiful pass in the neutral zone from defenseman Bayard Hall, skated right up the middle with two defenders draped all over him, and put a beautiful move on the Olympiques goaltender to score. 4-2 Pee Wee Rangers.
A penalty put Gatineau on a powerplay, and they cashed in at the midway point of the third period to cut the Rangers lead to one. Less than two minutes later, another Gatineau goal, and just like that it’s 4-4, and the Olympiques are charging.
At that point, but co-coaches Paul Messier and Jeff Devenney wouldn’t let the boys get down, and, to be sure, the boys showed the kind of character and poise that coaches dream of.
With two minutes remaining, the Olympiques won a draw in their own end, but there was confusion between the Gatineau goalie and defenseman. New York winger Hunter Rossi stepped right in, jumped on the puck, and made no mistake. 5-4 New York Pee Wee Rangers.
One minute and fifty-one seconds were remaining in the game when Hunter Rossi scored. The final 111 seconds seemed to been the longest almost 2 minutes in Pee Wee Rangers history as the Olympiques pulled their goaltender and pulled out all the stops. There were three gut-wrenching face-offs in the New York zone, but each one was answered with firm defense and outstanding goaltending from Gus Bylin. Finally, it really was game over.
The Pee Wee Rangers skated off the ice 5-4 winners in the first elimination game. Hunter Rossi deservedly was awarded the Broadway hat. But there was little time to rest. Friday brings a game against the Bay State Breakers at 10:00 am.
The rink at Les Galeries de la Capitale, the mall in Quebec, the opposition this morning was formidable – The Russian Selects from Moscow, a team, that hadn’t lost a game all year. The Russians have certainly been the talk of the tournament in Quebec with their bold red uniforms, precise skills, and 7-0 victory in their first qualifying match.
The Pee Wee Rangers were very mindful that they were representing not only the red, white, and blue of the New York Rangers but the red, white, and blue of their flag and country, and so the New York squad started the game at the highest level they have shown all tournament, skating, passing, and checking with abandon, buzzing the Russians in all three zones.
The fast pace of the Rangers paid dividends in the first period as Christian Jiminez found Victor Czerneckianair on an outlet pass along the right sidewall. Czerneckianair flew up the right side, cut towards the Russian goal, and slid the puck past the sprawling goalie to give the Pee Wee Rangers a 1-0 lead at 10:15. Those first goals are so important as they reinforce positive momentum. Sure enough, less than two minutes later, Anthony Cipollone went hard to the net and banged home a goal, with hard-working assists from Zach Tonelli and Ben Presley. The scoreboard read 2-0 in favor of the Pee Wee Rangers.
Every hockey game has its twists and turns, and this one did not lack them. In the second period the Russians raised their level and took it to the New York net with a few breakaways and two-on-ones. Every time they did, Rangers goaltender Gus Bylin was there with a glove, stick, blocker, or pads to make some huge saves.
As the third period began the Pee Wee Rangers still held a 2-0 lead thanks to Bylin’s timely goaltending, but the Russians were coming hard. A New York powerplay turned into a Russian short-handed goal at 6:40 of the third. Less than three minutes later the team from Moscow scored again. That comfortable two goal lead for New York had vanished.
Less than three minutes later, pressing the attack in the Russian zone, Captain Christian Jiminez found PJ Neal who slid the puck over to center Aidan Cobb, and Cobb found the back of the Russian net – 3-2 New York Pee Wee Rangers with 3:12 left to play. The red, white, and blue contingent of parents and fans were on their feet cheering.
Those final three-plus minutes were long, but the roller-coaster ride left the Rangers at a high point with their most impressive victory of the tournament thus far. Final score 3-2 New York. Aidan Cobb, who scored the game winner, was the proud recipient of the Pee Wee Rangers Broadway Hat.
The victory and the quality of the performance couldn’t have come at a better time. The International Pee Wee Tournament now moves to elimination games. Survive and advance, lose and go home. The Rangers are rising at the right time as they look forward to facing the Gatineau (Quebec) Olympiques in a crucial showdown. After the game, Rangers co-coach Paul Messier looked forward tomorrow evening’s game at the Arpidrome, “I think our boys know that they have to play a high tempo, concerted effort for every minute of all three periods. Everyone will need to bring their A game, for sure, and, if we do, I really like our chances.”
Last night the New York Pee Wee Rangers held a team dinner with all the players, coaches, and billets. The dinner was held at a popular Quebec City sports-themed restaurant with TV screens throughout. The biggest screen in the house featured the New York Rangers game and throughout the game, our boys couldn’t contain themselves and broke out into a series of cheers of “Let’s Go Rangers!” The win left the Pee Wee Rangers happy and ready to take on their next challenge.
Tuesday morning the team was back at the rink and ready to tune-up their game and take their competition skills up a notch. The final score was two-one in favor of the Czechs but the Pee Wee Rangers performance was something to be proud of.
The exhibition tilt with the Knights began on a challenging note as the Czechs scored just twenty seconds into the first period. Following that score, the Pee Wee Rangers took over. Three quarters of the game was played in the Czech end, and, although there were no official shot on goal stats, the Rangers visibly outshot the Knights by at least twenty over the course of the game.
Late in the second period, Captain Christian Jiminez made a rush from the point and went hard to the goal. One rebound here, another rebound there, and Jiminez jammed the puck past the sprawling Czech goalie. David Chen got an assist, and the game was tied at one. With more than a minute left in the period the Pee Wee Rangers pressed the attack and appeared to have scored again, but goal was waved off by the referees.
That momentum carried into the third period, but bad luck and good Czech goaltending continued to keep the puck out of the Knights net. Halfway through the third, the Czechs capitalized on an opportunity and put a rebound home to take the lead, 2-1, and that’s how the contest finished.
Goaltender Kyle Saul gave it his all, backstopping a Pee Wee Rangers team that is learning step-by-step that there are no easy ones at the 56th edition of the International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament of Quebec.
After some time to eat lunch and to reflect on the mission still ahead, the boys were looking forward to a fun skate on a lake outside of town. Tomorrow brings another exhibition at the big mall against a talented Russian team, and another opportunity for the Pee Wee Rangers to hit their stride.
The Pee Wee Rangers arrived in Quebec City on Thursday for the Tournoi International de Pee-Wee Hockey. The tournament is entering its 56th year and is the largest Pee Wee hockey tournament in the world. Upon arrival, co- coaches Paul Messier and Jeff Devenney gave the boys and their parents an overview of what to expect during their time in Quebec.
This morning, the New York Pee Wee Rangers played their first exhibition in a rink in the middle of the largest mall in eastern Canada. The opposition was the Burnaby Winter Club, who traveled cross-continent from British Columbia. The Burnaby club has produced a number of NHLers including the likes of six-time Stanley Cup winner Glenn Anderson, 400 career goal-scorer Paul Kariya, and current Edmonton Oilers’s Center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
The Pee Wee Rangers and the Burnaby Winter Club played a hard fought and close game that remained scoreless through the first half of the game. Goaltender Gus Bylin held the fort for New York while defenseman Christian Jimenez played strong at both ends of the ice. The Pee Wee Rangers fought hard, but in the end Burnaby took home the win.
Despite the loss, no Pee Wee Rangers team has remained undefeated throughout any previous tournament and team remained in high spirits. Coaches Messier and Devenney held a practice in the afternoon that focused on quickness and positional play.
Tonight the team will dine together at the world famous Sugar Shack and will follow it with a French-Canadian cultural experience par excellence.
The morning of Monday, February 16th brought the first real game of the tournament. Unfortunately, the evening before, winger and alternate captain Victor Czerneckianair was up most of the night with a stomach bug. By morning it was determined that he couldn't play. Adversity is part of the game of hockey, so the Pee Wee Rangers were undaunted as they headed to Quebec City’s historic arena Le Colisee Pepsi.
A large crowd of more than 4,000 spectators were on hand for the 9:15 am puck drop. The Rangers came out flying, and seven minutes into the first period PJ Neal flew up the left wing and put a pass into the slot where Pee Wee Ranger Hunter Rossi popped it in the net. The scoreboard over center ice read 1-0 in favor of the New York Pee Wee Rangers.
The Rangers continued to press but just couldn’t find a way to slide the puck past the Sabres goaltender. That trend continued into the second period, and that’s when the New Yorkers hit a tough spot. Defenseman and team captain Christian Jiminez became a target of the referee and drew two penalties within the first four minutes of the period. The Rangers killed the first one off, but the second resulted in a powerplay tally for the Sabres. No doubt, Buffalo gained some confidence. They soon were off on a two-on-one, but defenseman Bayard Hall played it perfectly and sent the puck back up the ice. At the end of the 2nd period the score was tied 1-1.
A taut struggle continued into the third period as both teams checked closely – in particular, New York’s Jack Gorton, Jason Marsella, and Jacob Teply were following their assignments to a tee. It was becoming pretty clear that the next goal would be the decider. Seven minutes in to the third period, the Sabres won a face-off in the Rangers end and the puck was in the back of the New York net.
Down 2-1, the Pee Wee Rangers played hard, and in the final minute New York pulled goalie Gus Bylin for an extra skater. The Sabres were hemmed in their own zone and took a penalty. The Rangers had a 6 on 4 skater advantage, but a shot from the point hit a shin pad and the Junior Sabres finished the game off with an empty-netter. Final score Buffalo 3 – New York 1.
The Pee Wee Rangers are relegated to the “B” bracket which is the same path that the 2009 Pee Wee Rangers took when they were tournament champions. Mindful of that, the boys were excited at the prospect of getting back on the ice and starting to climb the mountain one productive step at a time.
Tomorrow brings an exhibition game in the morning against the AA Elite Czech Knights from Kladno, Czech Republic.
On the evening of February 13th the team, parents, billets, and coaches took an expedition outside Quebec City to the Cabane Sucre or Sugar Shack in St. Augustine for a taste of Old Quebec. The Sugar Shack is a traditional restaurant, an institution that celebrates the cultivation of maple syrup and the folk traditions of the Quebecois. In addition to a great meal, everyone was highly entertained by a pair of musicians who fiddled and strummed French-Canadian folk songs all evening. The team ate, danced, and sang to their hearts content. They even romped around outside in the frigid air, where their sledding was topped off by frozen maple syrup on a stick. The evening was an enjoyable and educational cultural experience.
It was an early wake-up on Saturday morning for a game at 9:15 am against the Barrie (Ontario) Colts, a AAA team from one of Canada’s great junior organizations. For the Pee Wee Rangers it was the right time to put the hard work, strategic changes, and lessons learned from practice into the reality of a game.
The game started out as a hard fought contest that remained scoreless through two periods. Goaltender Gus Bylin put up a wall and secured the front of his net. Gus got plenty of help from a quintet of defenseman including Christian Jiminez, Jason Want, Ben Presley, Bayard Hall, and Jason Marsella, who all played exceptionally. The big Barrie Colts threw everything they had at the Rangers net, but Bylin and company held the fort.
Six minutes into the third period, a 0-0 tie was snapped by a shot from Anthony Cippolone, who stunned the Colts goaltender from the right face-off circle. On the very next shift, the Rangers kept the heat up, storming the Barrie net. Jakub Tepley banged home a rebound and after about forty scoreless minutes the Pee Wee Rangers were out in front 2-0. Then two minutes later Victor Czerneckianair took a pass from David Chen to score and it was 3-0 in favor of the New York Pee Wee Rangers.
With three minutes to go, the focus turned to protecting the lead and the shutout for Gus Bylin. The final 180 seconds would include a penalty-kill that added to the game intensity, but the boys rose to the occasion. When the final buzzer sounded, the shutout was secure and the Pee Wee Rangers had a 3-0 victory.
Five things you didn't know about Derick Brassard
1) His hockey idol growing up was Joe Sakic.
2) The first team he played for was the Hull Minor Hockey Association.
3) His favorite pre- game meal is chicken and pasta.
4) Click below to find out what job he would have if he was not a professional hockey player.
5) Click below to find out what made Derek first want to play hockey.
Each year the Rangers recognize a youth hockey volunteer in honor of Emile Francis, former Rangers Coach and General Manager. Nominees are recognized for their sacrifice, dedication and impact on grassroots development , youth and amateur hockey.
Last year’s award recipient was George McCafferty of Howell, NJ. Nominated by kids he had coached, family, and friends, McCafferty had spent 45 years volunteering , coaching, and working as an administrator for multiple youth hockey teams in his community.
Do you know someone who you would like to nominate? Tell us why you think they deserve to be recognized with the Emile Francis Award. Submit your story here.
The New York Rangers are taking nominations for New York Rangers Flag Kids. Coaches can nominate a player between the ages of 11-12 years old who have displayed great leadership, sportsmanship, and community service. Winners will be chosen to carry the RangersTown flags before a number of select home games! Nominees must be strong skaters with multiple years of hockey experience. Click Here to nominate your youth hockey player.
On January 28th the MSG Training Center played host to 90 youth hockey players and their families for a youth hockey Q&A session and cross ice jamboree with NY Rangers player Martin St. Louis and his former UVM coach and current USA Hockey Regional Manager, Roger Grillo. The event, which invited 9 local squirt teams to the training center focused on youth hockey development for kids ages 9-10 years old.
Parents and kids were invited to join a 45 minute Q&A which covered everything from training tips & skill development, to how to be a supportive hockey parent. Martin St. Louis gave advice derived from his experience as a hockey dad to his three sons. When responding to one parent’s question, he stated, “The goal of youth sports is to raise good human beings… good hockey players is secondary.” The rapport between Martin and his former college coach Roger Grillo helped make the Q&A seem more like a gathering of friends, and encouraged kids stand up and questions instead of shying away from the spotlight.
When the Q&A ended, kids and coaches were sent to their respective locker rooms to change for the on ice portion of the event. The 9 squirt teams rotated through three sections of the MSG Training Center ice and played USA Hockey’s American Development Model style cross-ice games against each other. Martin St. Louis joined the kids on the ice to help provide instruction and encourage the participants to have fun. “They get to have fun at an event like this,” Martin St. Louis said. “And for me to be out there with the kids, I think it is a win for everybody.”