The annual hockey tournament sponsored by Sports Illustrated pitted two Canadian teams against two American teams, showing off their best talents in front of hockey scouts from across North America. In the 2012 age group, 34 Canadian players participated from across the country, and Eastern Ontario was particularly well represented with five of the players and a head coach coming from the Eastern Ontario Cobras.
Karol Thibodeau of Wendover, head coach of the Team Canada Gold at the tournament and the Eastern Ontario Cobras U10 boys team in Rockland, led his team to victory in all five of their games, defeating the other Canadian team for gold with a score of 4-0.
Matteo Lortie, Etienne Rollin, Alex Thibeault, Zack Wathier, and Coach Thibodeau’s son Samuel Thibodeau were joined by players all the way from British Columbia to Quebec. Samuel Thibodeau came away with the honour of a best-scorer award, having put away nine goals with five assists.
“I am so proud of the boys,” said Thibodeau. “To be able to have such good players coming from a small town is amazing. The other coaches were really impressed.”
Each player is selected to represent their region by the head coaches and a Prospects Selection Committee based on their athletic and academic achievements. There were scouts at the tournament, but Thibodeau wanted the boys to focus on playing the game, not impressing scouts.
“I didn’t really tell the boys about the scouts,” said Thibodeau. “The most important thing for them at this age to have fun and learn to play the game.”
Participating teams were given the VIP treatment according to organizers, making for an unforgettable event. Games were streamed live, some with vcommentary, and the boys had pre- and postgame interviews and professional photos.
“I’ve never seen such a well-organized tournament. They really made the boys feel special,” said Thibodeau.
Registration for tryouts is currently open for the Eastern Ontario Cobras. Visit www.cobrashockeyaa.net/ for more information.