A special send-off from the big guys: Nashville Jr. Predators to play in elite tournament

Nashville Jr. Predators
Posted at 4:50 PM, Dec 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-28 07:46:18-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A local youth hockey team is going to a prestigious tournament in Canada, and they had a special send-off by the Nashville Predators.

Inside Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Predators had a morning skate on game day. On Wednesday, they had a special audience — the Nashville Jr. Predators and their families. See the smiles on their faces as they watch the team play in the video above.

The 12-year-old boys have been invited to play at the Pee Wee Quebec International Tournament, an honor according to program director JP Dumont.

"Every country sends teams there,” Dumont said. “It’s going to be over a hundred teams playing in that tournament."

He played in the tourney when he was young, too.

"It’s literally one of the biggest events for youth hockey in Canada," Dumont said.

After watching practice, the team entered the Lexus Lounge for a big surprise: a pep talk. The team got new jerseys and other gear at the send-off, too.

"It’s just a very exciting feeling that we get to go play in the big arena with the big crowds and stuff, and it’s an honor to do it," 12-year-old Austin Reigle said.

Reigle and Blake Simpson will play hard knowing the "Big Preds" will be rooting for them.

"Always a little nervous, but we think we can hold our own against these big top teams in Canada so it will be fun," Simpson said.

Several of the Preds players, like Dante Fabbro, played in the same Canadian tournament when they were kids. A handful of them came out of the locker room to encourage the boys.

"I still to this day remember all the great memories I had in the Quebec tournament, and I wish these guys nothing but the best of luck," Fabbro said. "Sometimes those opportunities don’t come around that often. I think they’ll have a lot of fun."

They’re heading to the tournament in Canada in February.

"Once in a lifetime for sure," Simpson said.

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