CENTERBURG — A local hockey player will soon be following in the footsteps of such great players as Guy LaFleur, Marcel Dionne, Mark Howe, Eric Lindros, Mario Lemieux and even the great Wayne Gretzky.
Later this month, 12-year-old Centerburg resident Gavin DeWitt is heading to Quebec, Canada, to play in the largest and one of the most important youth hockey tournaments in the world.
DeWitt is a defenseman for the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets hockey club. It’s one of 116 teams from 16 countries that were picked to compete in the 52nd Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament, which starts Feb. 10 and runs through Feb. 20.
In their first game, the AAA Blue Jackets will face off against the Beaubourg Seigneurs at Quebec’s Pepsi Coliseum on Feb 12. The puck is scheduled to drop at 2:15 p.m.
“We will be there for two weeks,” said DeWitt. “We’ll get to play a lot of practice games against the other teams and we will have a lot of (team) practices.”
“It’s a pretty big deal for a little guy,” said Gavin’s father, Dennis DeWitt, “He’s really looking forward to it. He’s been playing hockey for quite a few years, now. He had one opportunity, two years ago, to have a similar event in Edmonton, Alberta.”
DeWitt, who was first introduced to skates at 18 months of age, was playing for a AAA hockey team in Cleveland before he got the opportunity to play in Columbus last year.
“We drove 105 miles, one way, to practice (in Parma, Ohio) three times a week,” said the elder DeWitt. “Our home games were in Cleveland. Our road games were typically in Chicago or Detroit.”
Three weekends a month, father and son would usually be in one of those cities, until last year when the AAA Ohio Blue Jackets were formed in Columbus. Now, home games and practice are a whole lot closer.
“(The travel) has opened up (Gavin’s) eyes a lot,” said Dennis Dewitt, who has also taken his son to games in cities like Buffalo, Rochester, Pittsburgh and Toronto. “He gets to tour regionally through North America.”
It doesn’t matter where he plays, for Gavin, it’s hockey that matters and that’s just fine with his dad.