Hometown team mounts third-period comeback in championship game against Czechs

Teams from six countries came to Quebec for the prestigious tournament, but it was the hometown team that emerged victorious.

With a come-from-behind 5-4 overtime victory over the Czech Knights, the Montreal Canadiens won the AAA division at the 2022 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament Sunday afternoon.

It was the first of its kind — a springtime showcase for the famed international youth hockey tournament. Due to COVID-19 restrictions interrupting the previously scheduled February tournament, organizers made sure the Pee Wee Quebec still took place, this time running it from May 1 – 15. The AAA division started on May 9, with the championship wrapping things up Sunday.

The Canadiens battled back in the final — more on that later — but they also battled back for the duration of their Pee-Wee Quebec experience. The little Habs, coached by former NHL pro Jason Pominville, started tournament play with a 3-2 loss to Latvia’s Riga HS on Wednesday, which put them on the brink of elimination from the start.

It turns out that the loss was the wake-up call the Canadiens needed, as they exorcised some demons over the next three games. On Friday, they posted an 8-1 win over the Middlesex Islanders to let everybody know they weren’t bowing out of their hometown tournament easy.

From there, they posted a 7-1 win over the Adirondack Jr. Wings on Saturday morning. Later in the same day, they hit double digits in the scoring column, as the Habs beat Providence Hockey Club 11-1 to earn a date with the Czechs in the final.

Montreal outscored the competition 26-3 in their bounce-back run to the title game.

There, they needed to once again prove their mental toughness, as the Czechs raced out to a 2-0 lead after the first period, and a 3-1 lead after the second. The Canadiens scored four goals in the third period, however, and despite the Knights finding the back of the net one more time, the game went to overtime.

There, Alexis Joseph — who scored the last goal in regulation for the Habs — broke a 4-4 tie at the 0:45 mark of the extra period to give his team a championship victory at the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament. 

Joseph, who accomplished something the majority of players could only dream of with his third period and OT goal in one of the biggest youth hockey tournaments in the world, also led the tournament in scoring with nine goals and eight assists for 17 points in five games.

His teammate, Jayden Pominville, had four goals and seven assists for 11 points to tie for second in the tournament scoring race.

Jeremy Freeman of the Oakville Rangers and Braiden Scuderi of the Philadelphia Flyers also had 11 points in tournament play; Freeman hit that points total in four games and Scuderi in only three. 

Zack Arsenault of the Quebec Ramparts and Jaakko Wycisk of the Sun County Panthers were the two other players to crack double digits at the tournament, as both finished with 10 points in four games.

Vincent Dussiaume-Latour led the way for the Canadiens between the pipes, playing 112:18 worth of hockey over four games. He finished with a 4-1-0-0 record (that’s one overtime win) and a 1.98 goals-against average. Crease partner Zack Desmarais played in 72:42 over three contests, and finished with a 2.04 goals-against.

Marek Besta of the Czech Knights played in 111 mins of action over three games, and finished with a 1.67 goals-against average. 

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