Thirteen-year-old Cree hockey star Charly Washipabano will play as a member of the Montreal Canadiens in a tournament game against the New York City Rangers in Quebec City this coming Febrauary 8th.
Okay. It’s not the Montreal Canadiens, but a new team called the Little Montreal Canadiens. And it’s not an NHL game, but the upcoming International Pee-wee Tournament in Quebec City.
But it’s still a great honour and a dream come true for Charly, the only Native player on the team. Pee-wee teams from across North America, all representing NHL teams, will meet in Quebec City and face off for the prestigious “America Cup.”
Charly’s team, the AA “Les Elites du Nord” of Terrebonne, just north of Montreal, recently won a league tournament that gave them the right to represent the Montreal Canadiens at the Quebec City tournament. The real Montreal Canadiens are sponsoring the team and paying for everthing (uniforms, transportation etc.)
“It’s a very cool thing—a very unique experience,” said Charly, who will play centre for the Little Canadiens.
Charly is ranked as the fifth scorer in the league (13 goals, 14 assists) and his slapshot has been clocked at 70 mph. He’s been playing hockey since he was 4 or 5 years old and, one day, hopes to go all the way to the NHL one day.
His advice to other young Cree NHL hopefuls: “Most of them, when they go south they get homesick. It’s sure it’s hard in the beginning, but you have to continue working hard and you’ll get used to it”
His parents gave him a lot of support along the way and now all that hard work has paid off. In mid-January, Charly and his teammates had the chance to meet the Canadiens at the Forum. Charly spoke with Patrice Brisebois, Pierre Turgeon and Alexander Koivu. They also got a chance to practice on the ice where some of the greats of the game have crossed sticks.
The pee-wee tournament runs from February 8 to 18 and will be televised on the RDS cable channel (Reseau des Sports) on Feb. 11 at 2:30 p.m.
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