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Garant and DeFranceschi in Italy

Travellling to Italy for an invitational hockey tournament at the age of 12. That's when you know a player has a switch for the game. Mason Garant and Paolo DeFranceschi are in Balzano, Italy playing on opposing teams at the 12U Selects Invitational in the Boys Elite division.

"It is such a cool experience to be playing on the ice with players speaking all different languages and having the chance to be playing with the best U12 kids in the world." DeFranceschi told Powerplay Sports. He is playing for Pro Hockey.

"It’s a lot of fun to play at this high of a level because it is a huge challenge and you get to play with some kids you have never played with before," Garant said. "Our team has kids from all over North America so it's fun to meet new people."

Former Windsor Spitfire Tim Findlay is coaching Garant's team, East Coast Prime. "The World Select tournament is really a well run tournament in beautiful locations around the world," Findlay said. "It’s put on by an organization called Play Hockey who do a really good job at making it a great experience for all the families and the players."

Defranceschi, from LaSalle, scored the first goal of the tournament for his team against Sweden. "I feel I’m competing well against the best U12 players in the world. This is because of the players I’ve been playing against in North America over the last few years."

Check out the goal courtesy of his dad Daniele.

Garant, a defenceman from Tecumseh, has enjoyed playing against players he has never seen before which makes every game a surprise. "It's also great for my confidence knowing i can compete against the best players from other countries like Sweden, Finland, czechia and Slovakia."

Former Spitfire Shane Wright played in the tournament in 2016 scoring 22 points ranking him 4th all-time.

"It’s a real high level of hockey and often times you’re seeing possibly the next future star over here so it’s really a great event to be a part of and I’m happy I could help coach the East Coast prime team."


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