From playing shinny back home in Kyle, Sask., to representing their province at the 2013 National Women’s Under-18 Championship in Calgary, Alta., sixteen-year-old twins Britannia and Brooklyn Gillanders have pretty much worn skates since they could stand, and have always played hockey together.
The Gillanders girls were simply inseparable during their minor hockey days, and this season defenceman Brooklyn and forward Britannia will join forces once again in their pursuit of national championship gold with their Saskatchewan teammates.
While Brooklyn comes to Calgary as an under-18 nationals rookie, Britannia returns to Saskatchewan’s roster after claiming sixth place at the 2012 National Women’s Under-18 Championship in Dawson Creek, B.C. She was also named this season’s team captain.
Sister Brooklyn recalls nervously awaiting a phone call to find out if they had both made the cut this time around.
“After I found out, I was more than excited and honoured to represent Saskatchewan at nationals,” Brooklyn told HockeyCanada.ca.
“Both of our hard work has paid off,” Britannia agreed. “To share this amazing experience together is incredible.”
The twins have been playing on different teams for two years now, and are thrilled to be reunited on the ice.
“I believe it will be a great advantage to the team,” Britannia said. “Brooklyn brings out the best game in me, and I bring out the best game in her.”
“I know where Brooklyn is on the ice, and I trust her with the puck immensely,” Britannia added.
While playing high performance hockey with your twin sister comes with some nice advantages, it also poses some interesting challenges.
“The hardest challenge I face is that people are constantly trying to compare us and our play,” Britannia said.
But no matter what, “I support her no matter what the challenge may be,” Brooklyn said. “We always have each other’s back.”
The pair is fortunate to have support from family as well, some who have also taken to the ice on behalf of their province. Older sister Brienna was played at under-18 nationals in 2008 and 2009, while cousins Baylee and Kali are also Saskatchewan alumnae.
Brienna has been a huge support to her younger sisters in their quest to medal at the National Women’s Under-18 Championship.
“She tells me every day, ‘it’s not over when you lose; it’s over when you quit,’ ” Brookyln said.
And after months of summer camp training, Britannia and Brooklyn are far from that point. In fact, they're feeling very ready for the puck to drop on Saskatchewan’s first game of the national championship, at 10 a.m. MT on Wednesday, Nov. 6 against seven-time gold medalists Ontario Red.
“I feel very confident with this year’s team. We have a lot of hardworking gritty players who aren’t afraid to get dirty. Those are the players who win championships,” Britannia said. “This will make for a great match up.”
The 2013 National Women’s Under-18 Championship runs through Sunday, Nov. 10, with the bronze medal game scheduled for 12 p.m. MT and the gold medal game set for 4 p.m. MT. Follow all the action from the Markin MacPhail Centre right here at www.HockeyCanada.ca.