Young Cava­liers team pro­gress­ing

Laval coach sees im­prove­ment each game

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­

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.

The Cava­liers re­cently com­peted in the Wes­ley Gosse Me­mo­rial Tour­na­ment in Bay Roberts on Nov. 2223. 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 31 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.”

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

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.

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