PORT AUX BASQUES, NL — Primed to match the team’s result from a year ago, the Laval Cavaliers girls ball hockey squad let nothing get in the way of capturing a second-straight provincial championship.
The team from Placentia went undefeated at the six-team School Sports Newfoundland and Labrador 3A Girls Ball Hockey Provincials. The Cavaliers persevered in the championship game Saturday, April 14, beating the host school St. James Regional High from Port aux Basques 9-1.
Michael Gambin, who coaches the team alongside Jono Edwards, said the players were motivated to win provincials and did not slack off for a moment during games.
“The girls played great the entire tournament, and right back to regionals two weeks ago in Mobile,” Gambin told The Compass. “They have been working really hard over the past few months to prepare for a run at provincials and they really did peak at the perfect time. We figured we had a good chance to repeat as we have a strong group of Grade 12s and lots of experienced players, but the team exceeded all expectations.”
Laval opened the tournament Thursday, April 12, with a 7-1 win over White Hills Academy from St. Anthony. The next day, the Cavaliers shut out St. James 9-0, did the same to Meadows’ Templeton Academy by a score of 10-0 and defeated Indian River High from Springdale 6-1. Laval beat Glovertown Academy 8-3 on the Saturday prior to a 7-2 semifinal win over White Hills Academy.
Ella Shea earned an individual sportsmanship award for Laval.
Gambin credits the presence of veteran players for helping the team succeed.
“I cannot say enough about the leadership on this team from our three Grade 12 students — Tyra Lannon, Hillary Neville and Abigail Gambin,” he said. “Tyra and Hillary have been with this team the past four years and it was Abigail's fifth year. It was a fitting way for them to end off their high school careers. We are fortunate to have enough depth on the team to play the three of them together on a line and they set the tone in every game.”
The future for Laval’s girls ball hockey team looks bright, as this year’s team had three Grade 7 students and five other junior high players. Gambin said the leadership shown by the trio of Grade 12 players will go a long way in maintaining the school’s program and developing the younger players.
“It was a great experience for all involved — this team has a lot of fun together and they have been nothing but a joy to coach,” he said. “It was just nice to see them succeed given the hard work and preparation they have put in leading to provincials.”