Four 10-year-old hockey players from Lewiston and Auburn will fly on Thursday to Tampa Bay for the National Hockey League All-Star Weekend. 

Maine Gladiators Tier II Squirt teammates, Axel Favreau, Ryan Mileikis, Will Routhier and Ace Watson earned the all-expense trip by winning the Boston Bruins’ Mini One-on-One Tournament at the TD Garden on Jan. 14.

“It was one of those moments when its like, ‘Oh my gosh, we just won,'” said Favreau’s dad Shawn. “There was a lot of cheering.” 

The team reached the championship game by winning their first two matchups against teams from around New England. 

The third and final game was tied at the end of the three minute, nonstop game. Axel Favreau scored during the seventh round of the shootout and goalkeeper Will Routhier stopped the next puck to win the championship. 

“I did not really know we won the championship at first. But when my teammates came rushing towards me, I was guessing we won.” said Routhier, a fifth-grader at McMahon Elementary in Lewiston. 


Routhier said the key to good goal tending is to “stay square to the puck and just STOP-THE-PUCK.”

Favreau, Mileikis, Routhier and Watson play together on the same Gladiators team eight months of the year. Their four-month off season is spent — playing more hockey.

“I cant watch a TV show at home without hearing thump, thump thump, because Axel’s shooting pucks or balls in the basement all the time,” said Shawn Favreau.

“A stick, a puck and a ball. Shoot, shoot, shoot, all summer long,” said Favreau. “Nothing like hitting a hockey puck with the mower,” said Favreau. 

Parents knew that Routhier’s final save won each of their children tickets to the NHL All Star Game in Florida this coming weekend. But, they had to break the news that they could not go.

“We knew we got tickets to the game,” said Watson’s mother Jamie. “I originally told Ace it was too expensive. Plane tickets and hotel rooms on such short notice would be way too much.” 


“But, then we found out everything was paid for and we immediately said we would go,” said Jamie Watson. “We just have to show up and enjoy.”

Mileikis, a fourth-grader at East Auburn Elementary in Auburn, said he is looking forward to watching Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers play. Watson said he can’t wait to watch Marchand and Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators from his front row seat during the red carpet all-star arrivals shortly before game time on Jan. 28. 

Team coach Mike Routhier said that the opening of the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn four years ago has definitely contributed to local youth hockey teams having success playing traditional strong programs throughout New England.

“We are now reaping the benefits,” said Routhier. “We are starting to see the younger levels experiencing some success at different venues and I think it has a lot to do with this new arena and having consistent ice. We are not having to travel to find different locations to play. I think it has been a boom for the (Gladiators) organization and the community as well,” said Routhier. 

Jamie Watson said she believes one other element is key to her son’s hockey team’s success. 

“Not only are these four boys really good hockey players and great teammates, but all four of them do really well in school and take their studies seriously,” said Watson. 


“They miss a couple days of school here and there for hockey, but they are able to maintain their work and do well in school,” said Watson.

“Teamwork and perseverance” are two things that Ace Watson said he takes way from both the ice and from the classroom.

“It’s neat,” said Coach Routhier. “To see them have this success early on and hopefully they can continue to foster this success and maybe other kids will see that and want to be in that same boat,” said Routhier. 

The four players, along with one parent each, will leave for Tampa Bay on Thursday for three days of hockey shootouts, skills competitions, music concerts and of course, Sunday’s NHL All-Star Game. 

“This will be the highlight of their youth hockey career,” a Bruins representative told Shawn Favreau. “They will never forget.”

“You pretty much have to go,” he told Favreau.

“My mom said she is going. No discussion,” said Ace Watson.

Ryan Mileikis, left, Axel Favreau, Ace Watson and Will Routhier won a free trip to the NHL All Star game in Tampa, Fla., after winning the Bruins Academy One-on-One hockey tournament at the TD Garden in Boston. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

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