Cavaliers repeat as champions
Laval brings home AAA ball hockey title
Turning the championship trick two years in a row is never an easy task.
They’re not catching teams by surprise or coming in with a bit of the unknown on their side.
Other teams know what you have and who you’re bringing to the dance. Just ask the Laval Cavaliers.
Looking to repeat as AAA male ball hockey champs, they made the arduous journey to Flower’s Cove on the Northern Peninsula with eyes on defending their title May 5-7 at Canon Richards Memorial Academy.
“This one was harder,” said coach Michael Gambin. “The boys will tell you it was harder on my nerves. Last year we kind of walk away with it sort of. It was never in doubt, but this year was tough.”
In the final, the Cavaliers found themselves in a game. After jumping out to a 2-0 advantage, Laval surrendered a pair of goals and were battling to get momentum back on their side.
In a sport where a power-play should result in goal, the Cavaliers killed a pair of penalties before Liam Shea scored to put his team up 3-2 with just over 10 minutes remaining.
“That was a very low score for ball hockey,” said Gambin.
Laval would hold on for the victory and the latest of provincial banner destined for the school’s walls.
“It was our goal right from the very first practice,” said the coach. “Actually, we were talking about it coming home from Pilley’s Island last year. It was our goal to get another one.”
This time there was no loud outburst of joy or excitement. The players and coaches solemnly went about celebrating.
“It was almost like it was relief that the job was done,” said Gambin. “We put a lot of time and effort into it.”
A hostile environment
When you’re playing the home team in the final, chances are things are not going to be great for the visitors.
From the first moment they step on the floor, they’re entering a hostile environment and should expect to be met with resistance.
That’s exactly what the Cavaliers got from the boisterous Flower’s Cove fans. They wanted a provincial title and they let the visitors hear about it.
“I was walking down the hallway after the team had entered the gym and all you could hear was boos coming from the crowd as they walked in,” said Gambin.
A successful year
The ball hockey banner is just another notch in the belt for the athletes at the school this year.
It represents the third provincial high school banner for Laval this year and the fifth won the school has earned in the past two years.
In addition to ball hockey, the Cavaliers have claimed titles in softball and soccer, all at the AAA level.
It’s not something lost on Gambin, who coached two — softball and ball hockey — of those teams. Retired educator Gord Pike was at the helm for the soccer victory.
“I’ve never seen anything like it at the high school level,” said Gambin. “I told them this is something you can look back on for a long, long time and be proud of.”
Laval has a distinct advantage over most other schools. They have a solid athletic base to go along with the fact they can get athletes from their lower grades and get them into the athletic program earlier then Grade 10.
Coaches are able to build their programs by getting athletes at an early age and instilling the principles that will lead to future success.
It’s something Laval is seeing payoff at the Grade 12 level every year, especially this one.
“They get the experience and they get to know my expectations and those of other coaches,” said Gambin. “They’ll see what it takes to win.”
The Laval Cavaliers male ball hockey team recently captured their second straight AAA ball hockey title with a 3-2 victory over host Canon Richards Memorial Academy in Flower’s Cove on May 7. Members of the team are: front (l-r) — Joel Nash, William Neville, Jordan Pomeroy and Liam Shea; back — Michael Leonard-Power, James Culleton, Justin Edison, Brent Hatfield, Michael Nash, Andrew Kelly, coach Michael Gambin, Larry Brewer, Kolton Green and coach Jono Edwards.