Pla­cen­tia ath­letes re­flect on cham­pi­onship

Pla­cen­tia duo a part of Team NL cham­pi­onship team

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Dunville’s Abi­gail Gam­bin and South­east Pla­cen­tia’s Tyra Lan­non were two of three play­ers on Team NL from the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia re­gion. They brought home the un­der-16 At­lantic Chal­lenge Cup fe­male cham­pi­onship. The Com­pass caught up with the pair to chat about the win, their games and play­ing along­side each other.

For a cou­ple of years the At­lantic Chal­lenge Cup felt like missed op­por­tu­ni­ties for a pair of Pla­cen­tia ath­letes.

Dunville’s Abi­gail Gam­bin and South­east’s Tyra Lan­non — both stand­out de­fence­men — were al­ways miss­ing each other at the an­nual fall tour­na­ment that fea­tures the At­lantic Prov­inces. Either one was on the team and the other wasn’t or there was some other twist of fate that kept them sep­a­rated. The pair had been play­ing to­gether since they were eightyears-old.

They came close last sea­son to play­ing at the same time, but Gam­bin was busy pre­par­ing for the Canada Games hav­ing made the un­der-18 squad while Lan­non found her name on the un­der-16 team.

Then, it all came to­gether this fall. Play­ing at the tour­na­ment for the first time to­gether, they were a part of the un­der-16 en­try from this prov­ince that made his­tory in win­ning the gold medal. Clarke’s Beach res­i­dent Shai­lynn Snow joined them on the team.

I couldn’t pic­ture win­ning with any­one else on the team. Abi­gail Gam­bin

“You can’t wrap your head around it,” said Lan­non re­flect­ing on the vic­tory. “I get goosebumps now think­ing about it.”

“I’d do it all over again this week­end if I could,” added Gam­bin.

Al­though Gam­bin shoots left and Lan­non shoots from the right side, they never played to­gether at even strength. With Team NL, they found them­selves on the ice to­gether dur­ing penalty kills and pow­er­plays. That suited the two just fine. “We just know where the other is go­ing to be on the ice,” said Gam­bin. “We al­ways talk well on the ice.”

The best game

The cham­pi­onship game with Nova Sco­tia could be con­sid­ered a clas­sic. NL jumped out to 4-0 ad­van­tage be­fore the start of the third pe­riod. That’s when the drama started.

Nova Sco­tia got one goal, then an­other. Be­fore the play­ers could blink, the game was knot­ted at four and NL was tak­ing a time out to re­group.

“Our coach asked us if we wanted to win the game,” said Gam­bin.

The script for th­ese games doesn’t usu­ally go in favour of the team that blew the lead. If the come­back team hasn’t scored the win­ner by the end of reg­u­la­tion, they surely end the game in over­time.

How­ever, NL had other ideas. De­scribed as an “un­pre­dictable goal” by the pair, New­found­land and Labrador got the over­time win­ner and the gold medal.

“It was the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” added Lan­non. “We had a great team.”

One more phys­i­cal than the other

There are plenty of sim­i­lar­i­ties in the games of Lan­non and Gam­bin. Both are strong skaters, play with an ac­tive stick and can make the all-im­por­tant first pass out of their zone.

“That first pass is some­thing you have to be able to do as a de­fence­man,” said Gam­bin.

Fun­da­men­tally, they’re both adept at an­gling op­po­nents off of the puck and us­ing their brains as much as their tal­ent to win hockey games.

There is one dif­fer­ence how­ever.

“Tyra en­joys the rough stuff a lit­tle more,” said Gam­bin. Think­ing more than the boys One of the big­gest dif­fer­ences you’ll find be­tween male and fe­male hockey is at the de­fen­sive end of the ice. Watch closely it’s easy to see that most de­fence­men don’t al­ways make the smart play.

They get caught up in fo­cus­ing solely on phys­i­cally dom­i­nat­ing their op­po­nent and for­get that the ob­jec­tive of the game is to get the puck. Not a lot of time is spent on sep­a­rat­ing man from puck with­out a vi­o­lent col­li­sion.

In fe­male hockey, play­ers have to un­der­stand an­gles a lit­tle more than their male coun­ter­parts. They’re re­quired to think a lit­tle more be­cause of the rules.

That’s all set to change this sea­son as body­check­ing was re­moved from the ban­tam and midget lev­els out­side of A divi­sion, high school hockey and the AAA lev­els. They’ve played an­gles all of their lives and now will have to lean on that ex­pe­ri­ence again.

“I think that’ll help us in male hockey this year,” said Lan­non.

The ACC vic­tory may have been a cou­ple of weeks ago, but the game and the con­nec­tion still res­onates with the pair.

“I couldn’t pic­ture win­ning with any­one else on the team,” said Gam­bin.

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

De­fence­men Abi­gail Gam­bin (left) and Tyra Lan­non cap­tured a gold medal at the At­lantic Chal­lenge Cup with the un­der-16 fe­male team from this prov­ince last month.

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