FALMOUTH, N.S. - Two young women who have played with and against each other for years at the hockey rink are heading to the national stage to take on top players from across the country.
Maggy Burbidge and Tiffany Hill are headed to the U18 Nationals, which takes place in Quebec from Nov. 1-5. The championship pits the top teams from across the country against each other.
The two girls, who grew up together in Falmouth, say they’re excited for this unique opportunity.
Burbidge, 16, attends the Selects Academy in Rochester, New York, and is a hockey die-hard through and through.
“I’m really looking forward to it.” Burbidge said. “I’m really excited to play against different players and to compete with the girls on our team.”
The centre-forward has already made waves in the hockey world, sometimes being the only girl on the boys teams, winning provincials at the Atom AAA level.
Leading up to Quebec, Burbidge is focused on her work outs and conditioning, both on and off the ice.
Burbidge took to the sport at an early age.
“I find it challenging and I love going out there and having fun with teammates and different players,” she said. “It’s a big part of my life, it’s a passion for sure.”
The players on the team will only have a short time to come together as a team before they have to face down the competition.
Luckily Burbidge will be going with Tiffany Hill, who she knows well thanks to years of playing hockey together.
“We started playing hockey against each other, when I lived in Falmouth and she lived in Dartmouth,” she said.
“We played spring hockey together all the way up and have always either played against of with each other,” she said.
“We’re good friends,” she said. “This tournament is going to awesome for both of us.”
Burbidge sites her hockey IQ — the ability to understand what’s happening on the ice at all times — as one of her strongest assets. She also has a powerful, hard shot.
She’s still working on her positioning in the defensive zone and improving her skating skills.
“It’s always been my goal to one day play for Team Canada, so hopefully going into the tournament and putting my all out on the ice, that’s my ultimate goal,” she said.
Hill, 16, is attending St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, which is another ‘hockey school’ like Burbidge.
“When I moved to Falmouth we also played soccer together, so me and Maggy have been friends for quite a long time,” Hill said. “It all started with hockey.”
Hill is eager to compete in Quebec.
“This tournament is so exciting, and it’s such an incredible opportunity I’m so thankful for,” she said. “It’s going to be lots of fun.”
Hill thanked her friends and family at home who are cheering her on.
“I started skating around the age of two. My dad grew up playing hockey, so he just kind of laced some skates on me, put me on the ice and I’ve enjoyed it ever since,” she said. “I fell in love with the game and never wanted to stop playing it.”
Hill has been on Team Nova Scotia, playing against other Atlantic teams, for the past five years, but this is her first year heading to the U18 Nationals.
“I was really excited I got to play, because it was really my only chance to try out and make it,” she said. “I’m really excited for this opportunity.”
The forward, who plays centre and wing depending on where the coach puts her, says her biggest strengths are her skating skills and work ethic.
“I’m always moving my feet, and every time I step on the ice I give it my all,” she said. “I never put nothing less than my best, I always put everything into it.”
She’s also working to improve her shot, getting off a quick release, especially now facing faster opponents.
“I have faith in Team Atlantic. We’re a small team, but I know if we all give our best effort and come together as a team, I think we’ll do very well,” she said. “It won’t take long for us to come together as a team. We all have the same goal.”
Hill has already committed to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, where she’ll be playing in NCAA Division 1 hockey.
Kayla Blackmore, head coach of Team Atlantic, said she sees Hill and Burbidge as core members of the team.
“They both bring an incredible amount of skill and are just great character kids,” Blackmore said. “They’re athletes who are going to show up every day and compete hard.”
Blackmore said it was evident at summer camp and the Atlantic Challenge Cup that both players were leaders of their teams.
“I think Maggy is a lethal offensive player, scores big goals in big games and, using her speed, creates opportunities from that,” she said. “Tiffany is the type of player that is incredibly versatile; she can play offensive when you need her to, but also really helpful defensively as well. She could end up shutting down a top line for another team.”
Team Atlantic hasn’t won a medal at the tournament since 2006, but Blackmore said she’s confident that the team will make a strong showing this year.
Did You Know?
You can follow Team Atlantic’s twitter account to see how the U18 Nationals are going by following: https://twitter.com/ta_pride?lang=en