If Abby Newhook lights the lamp for Team Atlantic at the 2019 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, she won’t have to work hard to locate her grandmother Ann Newhook in the crowd.
“I always like to be in the corner of the [attacking] end so I can have a good view of her scoring goals,” says Ann. “I move to the other end of the ice at the end of each period so I can always be in a good spot to see her score.”
Abby appreciates her grandmother’s ritual and seeks Ann out when she does bury the biscuit.
“I definitely look her way, especially if it is in that corner because she is always celebrating,” says the 16-year-old forward, a product of St. John’s N.L. “I appreciate her support. It’s excellent.”
Other than experiencing pulsating excitement when her granddaughter gets a puck across the goal line, Ann says every moment she watches her granddaughter is a thrill.
“I love watching her ponytail fly when she skates,” remarks Ann. “She is such a wonderful skater, and I love watching her carry the puck.”
When Ann is informed by her son Shawn and daughter-in-law Paula that they are taking a trip to watch Abby or her grandson Alex – who was drafted 16th overall by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2019 NHL Draft – play, she jumps at the chance to come along.
In February, Ann watched Abby shine at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta., with four goals and two assists in five games for Newfoundland and Labrador. In September, she made a trip down to Massachusetts to watch the Bay State Breakers under-19 team compete in the New England Girls Hockey League.
Between the trips was the first round of the NHL draft on June 21 in Vancouver. In the hours after Alex got drafted, Ann generated a bit of social media buzz when Shawn shared a tweet of her leading a cabal of Newfoundlanders in a celebratory hymn.
As a member of two choirs, singing is a focal point of Ann’s life. She has passed on her love for music and theatre to both grandchildren. Abby was her piano student for several years.
“I competed in some different festivals, and it was definitely fun,” says Abby. “There would be times when I would come to practice having not touched a piece since the lesson from the week before due to my busy hockey schedule and she would joke around with me for that.”
Abby also participated in musicals up until she was about 11 years old. She portrayed a munchkin in The Wizard of Oz and performed in the chorus for a production of Scrooge.
Her love for music, which was instilled in her by Ann, is still there; the Grade 11 student signed up for the choir at Tabor Academy, the prep school she attends in Marion, Mass., but hockey took precedence.
Coming back to Newfoundland and Labrador to visit Ann provides Abby with an excellent opportunity to stoke her musical passion, as the two of them love attending concerts and musical shows together.
Ann’s favourite show, though, is any time she gets to watch her grandchildren play Canada’s game. Watching the brother-sister duo shine together on the ice when they were younger remains a special memory.
“There was an Atom tournament where Alex and Abby were playing together, and my son Shawn was coaching them,” says Ann. “They won one of the games 7-6. Alex scored six of the goals and Abby scored the other goal. I remember Alex lifting Abby in celebration on the ice.”
Three weeks after U18 nationals, Ann will be making another trek down to Massachusetts to see Abby play for the Breakers and Alex compete for Boston College, an institution Abby is committed to playing for starting in the fall of 2021.
Beyond being their No. 1 fan, Ann aims to aid their journey with some grandmotherly advice.
“I encourage them to avoid being pretentious and instead practice humility both on and off the ice and to be grateful for all the opportunities that come their way,” says Ann.
Abby keeps her grandma on her mind when she is not around by following that advice. For the next few days though in Winkler and Morden, Man., all she needs to do is look in the corner of the attacking zone.