The opportunity to compete in an event like the Canada Winter Games is always a memorable experience.
For Team P.E.I. hockey player Marshall Gallant of O’Leary, it provided an opportunity to play in honour of someone very special to him – his late grandfather, Ronald Gallant.
“A couple of years ago he passed away suddenly,” said the 14-year-old son of Rodney and Melissa Gallant. “He was always coming to my games, and I wanted to represent him.
“I know he is always up there watching. When he died he was 67, so I put a 6+7 together to make 13 and that’s the reason I wear No. 13.”
A defenceman, Gallant is a Grade 9 student at the Mount Academy in Charlottetown, where he plays with the Saints’ bantam team and affiliates with the under-16 midget team.
“Marshall is a great kid, and we are glad to have him here,” said Team P.E.I. head coach Kyle Dunn. “He constantly plays hard, moves the puck and jumps up in the play.”
Dunn said all members of P.E.I.’s male hockey team dedicated this year’s Canada Games to an individual who impacted their career. He described it as a powerful experience.
“We went around the room and said, ‘It’s not just you who are sacrificing everything,’” said Dunn. “We talked about people who put in a lot of time, effort, money and sacrifices to get the players to here.”
When asked to talk about his grandfather’s influence, Marshall responded: “He was always there. If my parents were working late nights, he would always come over, look after us and take us to practice and things like that. If I had a bad game he would always be there to cheer me up and keep me going.”
Gallant’s family was touched by his gesture.
“They were pretty surprised, but also it hits close to home,” said Gallant, who noted the pace of play at the Canada Games was faster than he is accustomed to and the players were bigger and stronger. “It makes them proud and happy.”
Gallant scored a goal as Team P.E.I. completed play Thursday, defeating Newfoundland and Labrador 7-4 to finish in ninth place. P.E.I., which competed in Group C with teams seeded ninth to 13th, finished play with a 5-1-1 (won-lost-overtime losses) record. Cam MacLean, Zach Biggar, Jacob Squires, Reid Vos, Donovan Arsenault and Max Chisholm also scored for P.E.I. against Newfoundland and Labrador.
“It’s been great actually,” said Gallant in describing his Canada Games experience. “There have been lots of games and lots of people around.
“All the teams are really high skilled.”