While Under-20 players from around the world competed for the World Junior Hockey Championship late last month and into early January, players from 10 teams representing the United States and Canada were also in Buffalo, competing in the 2010 World Under-11 Invitational to close out the year. The tournament consisted of five Canadian teams and five American teams dueling for hockey gold, including 10-year-old Quinn Bisch of Wellesley and the rest of his Waterloo Wolves Major Atom AAA teammates.
Quinn has played on the Waterloo Wolves team for the past two seasons, and this was his first time playing in an international tournament. The team wound up losing in the bronze medal game 4-3 to Team Quebec in a shootout after giving up the tying goal late in the third period.
The Wolves were invited to the tournament partly because of their play in a tournament back in November 2009 where they beat the tournament host West Seneca Wings twice.
“They must have thought they were good competition,” laughed Quinn’s mother, Patty.
“It was really exciting,” said Quinn about the tournament, “until we lost in the shootout. I was upset we didn’t come home with the bronze medal.”
Unlike the other Canadian teams – including the Burnaby Winter Clubs, the Kingston Jr. Frontenacs, and the Toronto Marlboros – Quebec was not a club team, but instead made up of the best Under-11 players in the entire province.
“They were a superstar team,” said Quinn.
It was a disappointing finish for the boys considering they had beaten Quebec during the preliminary round just two days earlier by a 3-2 score.
Quinn, who normally plays defence for the Wolves, was moved up to left wing a few games before the tournament began and played there the entire time they were in Buffalo.
“He’s a defenceman by nature, but they needed another forward and instead of bringing in someone new they moved him up,” explained Patty.
Quinn says that all his years playing defence actually helped him make the transition to forward for the tournament.
“I’m used to watching the forwards, so when I went up to forward I just did what they were doing, and I liked it.”
The team wound up playing seven games over four days, and Quinn said that many of their players were very sick over the course of the tournament and some had to leave.
Waterloo coach Kevin Casey expressed his pride in the team by commenting that, “The boys represented themselves, Waterloo and Canada well. They beat some very good teams and battled hard in the games they lost. We were all disappointed with the fact that we didn’t come home with a medal but the effort put forward in the final game was as gutsy as any effort thus far.”
The team played exceptionally well throughout the tournament, winning four of its first five games before losing the final two, including their loss in the bronze medal game.
The team from Detroit went on to defeat the team from Tampa Bay in the gold medal game, 5-4.
Quinn was also disappointed that he didn’t manage to score a goal in the tournament, but he did get an assist during their 5-1 victory over the West Seneca Wings in the quarterfinals.
“I was in the penalty box, and when I got out I was on a 2-man breakaway. I was coming in on a bad angle though, so I passed it and he roofed it top corner,” Quinn recounted with a big smile.
Another thrill for the boys was when the tournament was discussed during TSN’s broadcast of the World Junior tournament with hosts James Duthie and Bob McKenzie. Buffalo Sabres stars Ryan Miller, Tyler Myers and Derek Roy also recorded messages for the boys relating back to their times playing in minor hockey tournaments and how those tournaments helped them develop as players and ultimately reach their dreams of playing in the NHL.
Like most kids his age, Quinn also has dreams of some day playing in the NHL, and while he doesn’t have a favourite team, he does have a list of teams that he doesn’t want to play for.
“As long as it’s not Toronto, Montreal or Boston, those are my least-favourite teams. Toronto never wins, and I don’t like any of Montreal’s players – except Mike Cammalleri.”
Until the time comes when an NHL team might call his name on draft day, Quinn Bisch will continue to practice his skating on his family’s rink behind their Wellesley home, and will keep taking shots on the netminder that his father built for him, affectionately known as “Bob the Goalie.”