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Local youth hockey player heads north

Esbin will play in prestigious youth hockey tourney in Canada

Posted: February 1, 2009 8:43 p.m.
Updated: February 2, 2009 4:55 a.m.
A local Pee Wee Hockey player is set to head to one of the most prestigious tournaments in youth hockey.

Kyle Esbin, a 12-year-old Stevenson Ranch resident and student at Rancho Pico Junior High, will join his fellow Anaheim Junior Ducks for a two-week excursion north of the border in the Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament, starting Feb. 11.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity," Esbin said. "It's my first time going to Quebec, and I'm excited to meet people from all around the world."

Teams from 16 countries are slated to compete in the tournament, and over 200,000 people are expected to attend the 11-day event.

"I'm excited to play in front of so many people," Esbin said. "It's cool too because the games are on TV in Canada."

During its 50-year run, the Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament has featured some of the greatest players to ever grace the ice, including Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Eric Lindros.

"Since this is the 50th year of the tournament they're really making it special," said Junior Ducks head coach Ted Bancarz. "This is the most exciting tourney of the year, and I love to see the kids get to enjoy themselves playing the game and getting to be a part of the whole experience."

Esbin, a left winger, is the only player on the team from the Santa Clarita area. The majority of the club lives in Orange County.

"It's been great to see Kyle's skills grow during this season and to see him mature," Bancraz said. "He's a big reason this is one of the stronger teams we've had."

Esbin's mother, Sue Esbin a former figure skater, introduced Esbin to the ice at the age of five, and he has been playing hockey ever since.

"Kyle loves playing hockey," said Sue Esbin. "He has a passion for the game, and his family is very proud of all he has accomplished."

The trip north will allow Kyle the chance to add to his accomplishments in the rink on one of the biggest stages in Pee Wee hockey.

"I just enjoy the competition and being out there and hitting," Esbin said. "I like my teammates too and having a fun time."

Esbin's voyage to French Canada should be a good time regardless of wins and losses. His councilor granted him two weeks of missed classes so he could play in the tournament, but the team will still put in study time so the players don't fall behind in their classes.

"Kyle's councilor was very cool about everything," Sue Esbin said. "We're gong up there as a family so it's going to give us a chance to make some lifelong memories."

Bancrarz sees the tournament as a chance for Esbin to not only grow as a hockey player but also as a person.

"He's a smart kid, and he has a lot of potential," Bancarz said. "He's strong on the puck, and he's been a real playmaker for us. He's already learned a lot this year. Kyle could help us reach our goal of winning this tournament."


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