Chris McQuaid hasn’t missed a beat.
The 13-year-old Charlottetown resident spent his final peewee year patrolling the blue-line for the Charlottetown Abbies bantam AAA team this season. He thought it would be a good challenge and was granted the OK from Hockey P.E.I.
“It’s been pretty good,” McQuaid said. “I’m not standing out as much as I would have in peewee, that’s for sure. I find I’m not getting off easy and that’s what I want.”
McQuaid is big for his age at five-foot-eight, 125 pounds, but he can find himself going into the corners with players standing six-foot-three and weighing 215 pounds.
“Some of the big guys are intimidating, but don’t hit,” McQuaid said. “Whenever there’s people who hit hard, I just need to be a little more cautious on where I am going.”
McQuaid started playing organized hockey when he was five years old.
He has been a defenceman for all but half a season in novice.
“I’m strong in the defensive zone, but I rush the puck when I can,” he said.
“I enjoy playing defence because you have the opportunity to block shots, play defensive and save goals and you can . . . join the rush and score goals.”
His skating is one of his biggest assets, but he’s good with the puck, smart and wants to improve.
“Chris has got incredible skills, is an extremely hard worker and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a kid listen so well in a practice,” said Trevor MacNeill, head instructor with the Queen Charlotte Skills Academy. “He just wants to learn more and more. You can just tell he has a real passion for the game.”
Coach Cory Gaudet said McQuaid has added a lot to the Abbies this season.
“He brings a skill set you don’t normally see in an underager at that level of hockey,” he said.
McQuaid, who is also a top academic student, plays in all situations and has fit in well with the team.
“He’s a great kid,” Gaudet said. “The team has kind of taken him under their wing too to make him feel comfortable.”
McQuaid applied to move up an age level in the fall. An evaluator watched games and practices and declared he was one of the Abbies’ top two defenders.
Hockey P.E.I. executive director Rob Newson said one or two players per year on average would be granted underage status.
“It is a rare occurrence and as such we treat these requests with special attention as it is a big jump for a player to advance to the higher division in the AAA category,” he said.
McQuaid, like many of the kids his age, wants to play in the NHL.
That may come some day and if it does, he could find himself playing alongside or against his first cousin, Boston Bruins defenceman Adam McQuaid.
That stuff will take care of itself down the road. For this week, the younger McQuaid is concentrating on helping his Abbies at the Mark’s Work Wearhouse Spud Minor Hockey Tournament.
“I like the Spud. It’s a triple A tournament and it’s well organized. All the teams are good and you never really have an easy game.”
u Hometown - Charlottetown.
u Age - Just turned 13.
u Sport - Hockey.
u Position - Defence.
u Number - 16.
u Statistics -
GP G A Pts Pim
29 2 6 8 12
u Did You Know? - McQuaid led the Bluewave Challenge Cup peewee AAA tournament in 2011-12 in scoring with three goals and had 12 assists in six games. The tournament attracted the top 16 peewee AAA teams in Atlantic Canada.
Mark’s Work Wearhouse Spud Minor Hockey Tournament
u What - A minor hockey tournament for AAA teams from Atlantic Canada.
u When - Today to Sunday.
u Where - Charlottetown and area.
u Players - More than 1,660.
u Tradition: This is the 38th annual tournament.
u Quote - “The Spud has a long history of being one of the top winter events in Atlantic Canada and this year will be no different. The committee and all our amazing volunteers are looking forward to hosting 83 teams with over 4,000 players, families and fans. Enjoy the spirit of sport and be sure to visit all of the wonderful spots that Charlottetown has to offer.” - Bruce Donaldson, tournament co-chairman.
u Opening ceremonies - 8 p.m. today at CARI Complex.
u Online -spud.goalline.ca/index.php