Placentia athletes reflect on championship
Placentia duo a part of Team NL championship team
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.
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.