RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Quebec International Pee Wee tournament is hockey’s version of the Little League World Series.
“For our first game last year, there were 2,000 people there for a Pee Wee hockey game,” said Junior Hurricanes Captain Griffin Hatley.
Hockey in the South has come a long way.
As the Carolina Hurricanes celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their Stanley Cup title this weekend, young kids are developing their talents in an area where hockey used to be an afterthought.
“When their dads were younger in the South that wasn’t really a thought,” explained head coach Shane Willis, a former Carolina Hurricane player.
“But these boys really dream about that. They go to Hurricanes games and they are really driven to go out night in and night out to try to get better and achieve their dreams of playing in the National Hockey League,” said Willis.
Some day a Triangle born player will eventually make the NHL. Each and every one of the Junior Hurricanes hopes it will be them.
“Yeah, I definitely want to make the NHL for sure that would be awesome,” said Tade Carman the team’s goalie. “Then I could pay back my parents for everything that they’ve done for me.”
Not long ago that dream for a Southern hockey player seemed far fetched. When the Junior Hurricanes first began competing in the Quebec tournament scoring a goal, let along winning a game was difficult.
That’s changed, but the perception of Southern hockey hasn’t.
“Well yeah, they always look down on you before the game and then once you get out there it’s always fun to prove them wrong and show there’s talent wherever you go in the world,” said Hatley.
Including in the Triangle where 18 Junior Hurricanes hope to make an International statement when it comes to the sport of hockey. They’ll do so, with a Hurricanes logo across their chest.
“Because it’s where I am born, so, for me it’s virtually like playing for my home team,” said Carman.
As the home team celebrates a milestone this weekend young kids dream of one day being a part of that special moment.