In the midst of the bustling arena with four pads full of the best Peewee level players on the Eastern side of North America sits the Tom Wilson Peewee Classic championship trophy. Formerly the Bell Challenge Cup, Bauer Challenge Cup, and GTHL Peewee Challenge, the trophy has been in the hands of NHL greats like Eric Lindros and Steven Stamkos over its 40-year history. Names engraved on the trophy are often mirrored on the Stanley Cup years after players participated in the tournament.
“Reflecting back now it’s really great to have been able to play with and against so many great players that competed in that tournament,” said Kingston Frontenacs veteran and 2012 GTHL Peewee Challenge champion Anthony Aguanno. “For Peewee age players it was certainly a top tournament and remains among one of the more memorable ones for me.”
Tournament namesake and Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson competed in the 2006 rendition of the tournament with the Jr. Canadiens. Wilson’s team would not raise the trophy that year. The honour would be left to the Chicago Mission who were led by Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman.
“Players can expect first and foremost great competition,” said Aguanno, who played alongside Jack Hughes – the first overall selection at the 2019 NHL Draft. “I recall there being teams from all over Canada and the United States competing and great crowds watching every game.”
The 2019 tournament will see 20 Minor Peewee teams and 10 Peewee teams compete in their respective divisions. Having previously only been a Peewee tournament, the Minor Peewee Mississauga Rebels were the inaugural champions in their division last season. For 2019, the Rebels are returning to take a shot at the Peewee title. As a Tom Wilson Peewee Classic veteran, Rebels’ Ethan Czata lent his advice to first-time tournament-goers.
“My advice would be to try your hardest and never give up. Oh, and have fun,” said Czata, who expressed his desire for a repeat championship.
Czata’s Rebels teammate Oliver Hansford added that teams should be prepared for tough competition ahead.
“Don’t come out to every game thinking that you will win, come out to every game thinking that you are playing the best team in the province.”
The Tom Wilson Peewee Classic runs October 18-20 at Scotiabank Pond. Click here for more information.