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Contenders try to sort themselves out at Juniors

With Alberta’s Nadine Chyz of Calgary, the unbeaten leader at 8-0, enjoying an evening bye, her pursuers jostled for position in Tuesday evening’s Draw 9 of the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors.

One of those teams working its way into contention is Manitoba, skipped by 20-year-old Breanne Meakin, who won this Canadian championship when playing lead for Kaitlyn Lawes in 2009 in Salmon Arm.

Manitoba moved into a third place tie with British Columbia and Ontario, after an 11-6 victory over Quebec (Alanna Routledge of Montreal), and now sports a record of 5-3. It was the fourth win in a row for Meakin’s St. Vital Curling Club team, after three consecutive losses, including two blowouts to Alberta and Newfoundland/Labrador.

“A couple of ends went sour on us (in those losses), but we knew we had to bounce back. Not think about the past, focus on the games ahead of us,” explained Meakin. “Our goal (coming here) was to make the playoffs, and (if we do) we’ll go from there.

After winning the Canadian title and earning a world junior silver medal on the Lawes team, Meakin became a skip the following year. “I had skipped before, but it was a bit of a transition earlier in the year, playing in a few of the bonspiels. By the time the nationals rolled around, though, I felt pretty confident.”

Breanne Meakin at the 2011 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors(Photo by: Vern Jones)

Meakin, in fact, led her team to a 6-6 record in Sorel-Tracy last year, and while they didn’t make the playoffs, she shot an excellent 82% for the week, good enough to be named second team all-star skip. “Three of the girls had never been to a national before, so we did alright.”

Regardless of what happens here the rest of the week, Meakin will be off to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Charlottetown later in the month, as the fifth for veteran Cathy Overton-Clapham’s team. She was her regular third until this week, when Meakin went to the Juniors and Overton-Clapham won the Manitoba provincial women’s on the weekend.

Saskatchewan (Trish Paulsen of Saskatoon) kept pace with the leader, though, moving into sole possession of second place with a 6-2 record, by virtue of a 9-3 win over New Brunswick (Jennifer Armstrong of Fredericton).

However, British Columbia (Dailene Sivertson of Victoria) lost to Newfoundland/Labrador (Erin Porter of St. John’s), 8-7 to drop into a third place tie with Manitoba and Ontario.

In other games, Northern Ontario (Kendra Lilly of Sudbury) took three in the 10th end to clip Yukon (Sarah Koltun of Whitehorse), 7-6; Prince Edward Island (Sarah Fullerton of Cornwall) took down winless Northwest Territories (Taryn Williams of Yellowknife), 12-2 and Ontario (Clancy Grandy of Waterloo) was an 8-7 winner over Nova Scotia (Lindsay Doucet of Chester) to move into a three-way tie for third with a 5-3 mark.

In men’s, Saskatchewan, skipped by Braeden Moskowy of Regina, kept its perfect record intact, now at 8-0, after beating New Brunswick (Jon Rennie of Fredericton), 9-4.

Ontario (Mat Camm of Ottawa) moved into second place at 6-2, after a gritty 5-3 win over Nova Scotia (Kendal Thompson of Halifax).

Newfoundland/Labrador (Colin Thomas of St. John’s) is now third at 6-3, after decisioning British Columbia (Jonathan Gardner of Vernon), 8-5.

With the losses, Nova Scotia dropped to 5-3 while New Brunswick is now 5-4.

In other games, Northern Ontario (Cody Johnston of Thunder Bay) got the nod over Yukon (Thomas Scoffin of Whitehorse), 4-2, taking three in the eighth end, after the first five ends had been blanked.

Manitoba (Sam Good of Stonewall) defeated Quebec (Vincent Bourget of Baie Comeau), 10-6 and Prince Edward Island (Spencer Pitre of Charlottetown) was a 7-5 victor over Northwest Territories (Colin Miller of Yellowknife).

Round robin play continues through Thursday, with two-draw days at both the North Hill and Glencoe clubs, after which the first place teams advance to their respective finals, while the second and third place teams meet in semi-finals.

The women’s semi-final is Saturday morning at 10:30 am, with the final at 5:30 pm MT, live on TSN. The men’s semi-final is Sunday morning at 10:30 am, with the final also at 5:30 pm MT/7:30 pm ET, also live on TSN.

The winners then represent Canada at the World Juniors, March 5-13 in Perth, Scotland.