’22-23 Season Officially Underway

Oct 6, 2022 | Michael Caples

A forward for Okanagan Hockey Academy skates with the puck against Burnaby Winter Club at the 2021 Bauer U15 Elite Invite.
Photo from AllEvents.in

Wendy Dufton, Bauer Elite and Laval AAA events mark start of season across Canada

While it may be Canada’s game, they are typically late to the party when it comes to the unofficial start of the youth hockey season. The AAA Wendy Dufton Memorial Tournament kicks off Thursday in London, Ontario. On Friday, two others follow suit; the Tournoi Laval in Quebec and Bauer U15 Elite Invite in Abbotsford, B.C. Three major tournaments in three different provinces across the country unofficially signify the start to the youth hockey season.

Most top-level Swedish clubs have played double-digit games already. Youth hockey in Finland has seen several tournaments, with league play still in the early stages. Some Russian programs started regular-season play as early as the first week of August. All of this is dwarfed by dozens of top American teams who are nearing 15-plus game results on October 6.

Some Canadian teams have logged a game or two’s worth of action — three and four in rare instances — but the extended weekend of celebration for the Canadian Thanksgiving also symbolizes the start of the hockey season. With three major tournaments set to take place across the country, ‘the birthplace of hockey’ is about to get its youth hockey season into full swing. 

Top-Level Teams at the Wendy Dufton

The Wendy Dufton tournament features U14, U15 and U16 divisions, and with the London Jr. Knights hosting, talented teams from across Ontario will be flocking in for an early-season test. 

Twelve teams are competing at the 2009 birth year, including the World Hockey Hub’s No. 7-ranked York Simcoe Express. Traditional powers like the Vaughan Kings, Markham Waxers, Whitby Wildcats and the Jr. Knights make for a tough field for all of the participants. 

At the U15 age group, 20 top-level ’08 teams are competing. The highest ranked participating club is actually the lone American organization sending teams across the border, with the Bishop Kearney Selects. Ranked No. 1 in the U.S. by WHH, BK will challenge top Canadian teams like No. 6 Elgin-Middlesex Canucks and No. 8 ranked York Simcoe Express.

The U16 division gets its tournament season underway, as well, as the 2007 birth year begins its junior draft-eligible season. There are three ranked programs ready to make an early impression in the No. 3 Toronto Jr. Canadiens, No. 6 Southern Tier Admirals and No. 7 Peterborough Petes. The Bishop Kearney Selects will be flying the American flag in this division, as well, which gives scouts their first taste of cross-country competition. 

The Wendy Dufton plays through Sunday evening, with the U16s wrapping it up with an 8 p.m. championship-game puck drop. All teams are guaranteed at least four games. 

16 Teams at the Bauer U15 Elite

Meanwhile, out in British Columbia, the 2008 birth year will be competing in the Bauer U15 Elite Invite. Four divisions of four — named after the Bauer product lines of Vapor, Supreme, Nexus and Prodigy — will battle it out for an early tournament title.

Stretching into Monday over the holiday weekend, the 16 participating clubs will get any early test against impressive competition. The Bauer Invite brings together teams from the Alberta Elite Hockey League (AEHL) and Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL), which means spectators get an early preview for teams to watch out for out west.

Edge School Prep is off to a fast start in CSSHL league play; they hold a 5-0-0 record already. Cruz Pavao has 14 points in those five games, while Marcus Vo has 11, and Owen Cooper and Landon DuPont both have 10. Cole Prelusky has played all five games in goal, registering a 1.60 goals-against average, a .942 save percentage and one shutout so far. None of the Alberta Elite teams have played in more than two league games.

Just like with the Wendy Dufton, the Bauer Invite will also offer a bit of cross-border comparisons, as well, with the San Jose Jr. Sharks making the trek to B.C. to battle top Canadian squads. 

Top 2010s at the Laval AAA

In Quebec, the Laval AAA Development Committee and Hockey Région Laval host the first tournament of the Ligue de Hockey d’Escellence du Quebec (LHEQ). As the top youth league in the province, the LHEQ is a breeding ground for French Canadian youth hockey prospects.

Taking place in Guimond and Place Bell, 26 teams from the 2010 birth year will compete in a double-elimination style tournament from Oct. 7 – 10, which will be quite a way to establish the teams to watch in the U13 division.

The LHEQ starts at the U13 level, so this will be the first major AAA tournament for the age group in their new league.

The LHEQ is underway, however, and some teams have played as many as five games. College Francais Rive-Sud has quickly assembled a 5-0 record, thanks to strong goaltending from Benjamin Carreau and Mandy Ryan. Dannick Aubin-Humphrey leads the team with seven points in the five games, while Jaydan Belleus has five and Raphael Perreault has four.

The Patriotes de Laval are off to a 4-0 start, as well, with Lucas Elias and Xavier Lavoie splitting time between the pipes. Keironn Davis-Diakite has seven points in those four wins, while Rosario Picciola and Shawn-Anthony Senat have five points apiece. 

For more coverage of major upcoming events in Canada and around the world, follow WHH  on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Discord and YouTube for more!

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