Andrew Polidore (center) is a Maricopa middle school student and USA Hockey player. Photo by Maria Correnti

Andrew Polidore and his 12U AAA Arizona Bobcats team have been invited to play hockey in Canada.

The team is traveling to compete in the Tourno International de Hockey Pee Wee Quebec tournament Feb. 12-24 against teams from all over the planet.

Polidore, a 12-year-old eighth-grade honor student who attends Almentia Academy and Desert Wind Middle School in Maricopa, has been playing youth hockey in the United Arab Emirates since he was 7.

He is the son of Benita and Anton Polidore of Maricopa.

“We play a lot of games in Chandler and in Scottsdale,” Andrew Polidore said. “It is a hassle getting out the door in the morning.  I have to make sure I have all my stuff.”

He recently participated in a “shoot-out” at Norte Dame College. It is an event for scouts to see young players perform.

The Bobcats practice at The Ice Den in Chandler, playing after school on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and weekends.

“I played hockey four years overseas in the UAE,” he said. “It was good competition, but I needed some better competition, so we came back here. I spent a year on the House Team, and my second season, I went to the Bobcats.”

Andrew Polidore

Players on the team mainly live in Chandler and Scottsdale.

“They come from all around Arizona. We have 18 on the team,” he said.

Talented teams are chosen from across the United States, China, Australia and “many more countries beyond there.  It’s a very good tournament with high-level teams,” he said.

Andrew said he plans to stay in hockey through high school and college, with a goal of gaining a college hockey scholarship. He dreams of playing in the National Hockey League.

“We haven’t figured out what we’re going to do for high school yet, but next season I’m going to try out for the Coyotes. It’s high-level tournaments,” he said.

Hockey can be a rough-and-tumble sport. Andrew said at 12 it is rough but not as hard as it will become when he moves up.

“In Bantam you get to hit and rough around. In Pee Wee you don’t get to hit – it’s a penalty if you hit. It’s going to be harder in Bantam, but I think I’m prepared for it,” Andrew said.

One advantage he has over his competitors is speed.

“I’m very fast. I play right wing on the second line,” he said.

This is his first year playing with the 12U AAA Arizona Bobcats.

USA Hockey has issued a travel permit to the team, making them eligible to participate in the Canadian tournament.

It is an invitation only tournament with a selection of some of the best Pee Wee hockey players in the world.

“I want to win in Canada and I want to meet people on good, higher-level teams,” he said. “I want to see where I and my team place against those teams. I want to see if we have anything to improve on when I go to Bantam. I think Quebec is one of my steps to the NHL.”

His father Anton said Andrew is always improving and growing as a hockey player.

“To get him to the highest level, we need to work together as a family and make sure everyone is doing their deeds,” he said.

His mother Benita said Andrew is very passionate about hockey. “It is an investment in his future. He wants to play college,” she said.

Both parents always attend his games and practices.

“I have a life outside of hockey and I want to do a lot of other things. I want to go into a field of science – forensic science. I also want to do engineering,” he said.

Andrew said he looks up to his parents as his heroes in life.

“They have helped me through every step to get to hockey,” he said. “My parents were always supportive during those times. It’s my parents I always look up to even though they don’t play hockey.”

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