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Pee wees show they belong

It had been 15 years since a Kelowna team was invited to take part in the prestigious Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament.

The city may not have to wait another 15 years for another invite.

The Kelowna Minor Hockey squad, under the watchful eye of former NHL'er Byron Ritchie, came within an eyelash of moving into the quarter-finals.

They lost 4-3 in overtime to the New York Rangers Thursday in the round of 16. The Rangers, the top team in the U.S., tied the game with just four seconds left in regulation, then won it with a power play goal early in overtime.

While it was disappointing to bow out so early, Ritchie says they did turn some heads.

"The amount of compliments I've had on the team this week was been really good. I've had a lot of compliments on how they play as a team, how they move the puck," said Ritchie.

"A lot of people have been impressed with our top players. It's been an eyeopener for a lot of people.

He said he didn't think a lot of people expected the team to be as good as it was.

"We're a minor hockey league team from Kelowna...a lot of these teams are select teams. I think we opened some eyes as to how good our kids are.

"This age group in Kelowna is very strong. Hopefully Kelowna Minor Hockey can continue to prove that in the future."

Ritchie said the players gave it everything they had. It was just unfortunate they ran into the team they did in the second round.

The team will now focus on the final portion of the season en route to the playoffs.

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