Like bein' a kid again

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

QUEBEC CITY -- For a night, they'll all be 12 again.

When Team Canada plays Finland in a pre-tournament game leading to the IIHF World Hockey Championships here tonight, there's a collection of players who will be skating on the same ice they played on when they were 12 years old and came here for the famed Quebec International Peewee Hockey Tournament.

Two of them, Steve Staios and Jay Bouwmeester, haven't been in Les Colisee Pepsi since that day.

"To me it's all a blur," said Staios, the Edmonton Oilers defenceman who came here with the Hamilton Huskies in 1987.

"I wish we hadn't lost the first game because when you lose the first game, you have to go to the consolation divisions and play in little arenas around the area. That first game was such a blur; I wish I could remember more about it.

"It was my first time away from home. It was pretty overwhelming. There was the Winter Carnival and just so much going on. And there was the big crowd. That was unbelievable. I really wish I could remember more. But it is sure great to come back to this building and have the blur come back."

Bouwmeester played in the tournament with a Mill Woods team wearing Edmonton Oilers uniforms.

"It was pretty neat. It was the first time I'd ever taken a plane to play a hockey game. The building was at least half full.

"It was tough on the parents to raise all the money to take us to the tournament and I haven't been back in here until now. It brings back a lot of memories.

"Unfortunately we lost the game and had to play the rest of the games in other arenas, so I only played the one."

Goaltender Pascal Leclaire of the Columbus Blue Jackets played here with the Rive-Nord Elites in 1996.

"It was one of my nicest experiences. We were picked to be the team to wear Montreal Canadiens uniforms that year. It was the year after the Quebec Nordiques moved to Colorado and we were the first game of the tournament.

"There were 16,000 people in the stands. The place was full. Playing in this rink in front of 16,000 fans was pretty cool.

"When I was a kid I remember how bad I wanted to play in this tournament. It follows you all your life."

Ed Jovanovski of the Phoenix Coyotes played an exhiition game with Team Canada here on the way to the lockout year IIHF tourney, his first time back since he played as a peewee here with a team from his hometown of Windsor in 1990.

"My first game back was the night the anthem singer had the accident," he said of the girl who forgot the words to O Canada and then wiped out on the carpet.

"I remember coming to play in the peewee tournament as a kid. I remember taking a couple weeks out of school and coming into this building and what a great thrill it was," he said. "It was amazing."

Goalie Mathieu Garon of the Edmonton Oilers, who lives here in the off-season, played here with Rimouski in 1991.

"I played one game in here. We played a team from Boston and I remember lining up beside them in the same hallway. They looked twice the size as we were. We were pretty intimidated. We lost.

"I remember watching the Quebec Nordiques as a kid and getting a chance to play in the arena where the Nordiques played was such a big thrill," added the goaltender who would play on the Montreal Canadiens farm team here for three seasons after the Nordiques left town.

Martin St-Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning played in the tournament with the Laval Titan in 1988.

"I remember being in the dressing room when Jean Beliveau came to talk to us. I remember how he told us the most important thing was to have fun. There were maybe 10,000 people in the stands for our game. I felt like a pro."

Rick Nash of Columbus and a host of international players are also about to get the same experience.

Christobal Huet, who will play goal for France, played two years in the tournament with Grenoble. Switzerland's Julien Vauclair, Slovenia's Anze Kopitar and several others also had the experience.


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