Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson may have a Peewee “AAA” tournament named after him, but the 2018 Stanley Cup champion would only have been in his first year of “AAA” level hockey when he himself participated in what was then named the Bauer Challenge Cup.
A force at the “AA” level with North Toronto, Wilson opted to play at the “AA” hockey until his Minor Peewee season in order to play alongside his close friends.
“It was a terrific team, made up almost exclusively of local community kids,” recalls then Head Coach Mike Purdy. “I believe the team won the City Championship in their Minor Atom year and continued to have success in the years following.”
Coaching the now storied North Toronto team during Wilson’s Atom and Minor Peewee seasons, Purdy confirms that the “C” on Wilson’s jersey throughout those two years was a well-earned honour.
“Tom was always encouraging and positive and set a great example on and off the ice. He was always encouraging his teammates,” said Purdy. “I never coached a player before or after Tom with quite the same burning desire to win.”
After three seasons with North Toronto, the “AAA” Jr. Canadiens welcomed Wilson’s leadership and competitive nature to their organization.
“Tom was an outstanding individual who was a pleasure to coach. He provided leadership, as well as the ability to elevate the play of all his teammates,” said Jr. Canadiens Assistant Coach Peter Seessle. “Watching him in the NHL, he appears to be doing the same things now, obviously at a much higher level then he had at minor hockey.”
Despite all his success at every level of the game, Wilson was never one to forget his roots. After winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, he was quick to bring the Cup home to North Toronto Arena. Purdy recalls it being the same rink where Wilson scored a tying goal to force a final game between a heated rival – a move that prompted the late former GTHL President John Gardner to pack up championship trophies he had pre-maturely unwrapped.
“To bring it here [North Toronto] was a no-brainer,” Wilson told NHL.com. “When it comes to getting your moment with the Cup, this was always the choice. I spent so much time here growing up. It’s where my hockey dream started.”
The puck will drop on the Tom Wilson Peewee Classic on Friday, October 18 at Scotiabank Pond. Click here for more information.