Young Cavaliers team progressing

Nicholas Mercer
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Laval coach sees improvement each game

Laval High Cavaliers hockey coach Michael Gambin sees improvement every time his team hits the ice.
And, over the past two weeks that has been a lot.

Laval Cavaliers goaltender Liam Quilty makes a glove save during high school hockey action against St. Kevin's on Nov. 23 at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts.

The Cavaliers recently competed in the Wesley Gosse Memorial Tournament in Bay Roberts on Nov. 22-23. Prior to that, the team hosted a home tournament a week earlier.

In that span, the team has played more than a handful of games.

“There have been a lot of positive signs in the two weekends,” said Gambin.

Heading into the first tournament of the season, the Cavaliers had just five practices as a team. Although that is not a lot of practice time for a young team, Gambin said the team works hard in those practices.

“That makes things easier for me as a coach,” he stated.

The biggest positive for Gambin has been the compete level shown by his squad. Laval has gone out and challenged strong teams like Ascension Collegiate in Bay Roberts, St. Kevin’s in the Goulds and Holy Trinity in Torbay.

The Cavaliers beat Ascension 3-1 in the round-robin of the Wesley Gosse tournament. Nick Pittman had two goals in the game.

“That is a huge confidence boost for our team,” said Gambin.

As a coach, game-to-game improvement is something you want to see. The Laval coach recognizes there “are always ups and downs within games and between games” but he has seen a “positive progression” in his team up to this point.

“I am happy with the progress so far,” said Gambin.


Tightening things up

Even though there has been positive signs for the Cavaliers, there are still areas of the game where things can be tighter.

“I would like to see a little better defensive play in our own zone,” said Gambin.

In the Wesley Gosse, Laval players had a penchant for leaving their defensive assignments. This had a ripple effect in their end, causing a scramble to cover the left assignments.

“I would like to see some more attention to the little details of the game which are often the difference between winning and losing,” said Gambin.

Team discipline is another aspect of the game the Cavaliers need to improve in. The coach said this includes controlling emotions and “keeping our heads” at crucial points in the game.

“A lot of young players get caught up in the moment while playing high school hockey,” said Gambin.

He knows his squad takes great pride in wearing the Laval sweater and he applauds them for their passion and enthusiasm.

“At times, we need to focus that energy on positive outcomes in games,” said Gambin.


Work ethic a plus

When asked what have been his team’s strengths in the young season, Gambin pointed to the work done by his goaltenders and the work ethic exhibited by his team.

He praised the stellar play of both goaltenders — Brent Hatfield and Liam Quilty — during the two tournaments.

Often playing game-for-game, the keepers have patrolled the blue paint of the Laval crease with solid, often spectacular goaltending. Both have faced a dizzying amount of shots and have been there for their team every step of the way.

“Our goaltenders have been great this year and they work hard in practice to be successful,” said Gambin.

As for the work ethic?

“As always, Laval teams work really hard all of the time. They can be difficult to play against because of this. So, it is a definite strength.”

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