2014 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors

Manitoba wins second straight men’s title at M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors

LIVERPOOL, N.S. — A new face, but the same province, has emerged as the men’s champion at the 2014 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championships.

Team Manitoba, Canadian champs, from left, skip Braden Calvert, third Kyle Kurz, second Lucas Van Den Bosch and lead Brendan Wilson. (Photo, CCA/Michael Burns Photography/Mark O'Neill)

Team Manitoba, Canadian champs, from left, skip Braden Calvert, third Kyle Kurz, second Lucas Van Den Bosch and lead Brendan Wilson. (Photo, CCA/Michael Burns Photography/Mark O’Neill)

Manitoba’s Braden Calvert and his team from Winnipeg — third Kyle Kurz, second Lucas Van Den Bosch, lead Brendan Wilson and coach Tom Clasper — beat New Brunswick’s René Comeau 7-5 on Sunday afternoon at Queens Place Emera Centre in the men’s gold-medal game.

It gave Manitoba back-to-back men’s titles at the Canadian Juniors, following Matt Dunstone’s victory a year ago in Fort McMurray, Alta.

“It’s a dream come true, really,” said an ecstatic Calvert, whose team will join women’s champ Kelsey Rocque of Alberta at the 2014 World Junior Curling Championships, beginning Feb. 26 in Flims, Switzerland. “The guys just played really well all week, and we managed to do it. Unbelievable. I’m in shock right now.”

New Brunswick skip René Comeau, front, calls instructions to his sweepers as Manitoba skip Braden Calvert looks on. (Photo, CCA/Michael Burns Photography/Mark O'Neill)

New Brunswick skip René Comeau, front, calls instructions to his sweepers as Manitoba skip Braden Calvert looks on. (Photo, CCA/Michael Burns Photography/Mark O’Neill)

It wasn’t a perfect start for the Manitobans, who’d had the berth in the final clinched since Wednesday; the 18-year-old Calvert nose-hit a blank attempt in the first end, surrendered a deuce to New Brunswick in the second, and was held to one in the third.

“To be honest, it was a bit of a grind,” admitted Calvert, an agriculture student at the University of Manitoba. “We tried to stay sharp with practices, but you can’t really prepare for what just happened. I think we came out a little sluggish, to be honest. But we managed to grind one out.”

In the fourth, Manitoba put the heat on Comeau, and the New Brunswick skip couldn’t respond. His hit attempt missed everything and gave Manitoba a game-turning steal of four.

“Really, it was just one shot,” said Comeau, whose team from Fredericton was rounded out by third Daniel Wenzek, second Jordan Craft, lead Ryan Freeze and coach Damien Lahiton. “We battled hard and tried to come back. But they’re a great hitting team. Once you get down to them, it’s hard to come back.”

New Brunswick fought back, getting a deuce in the fourth end, and then stealing one in the sixth when Calvert couldn’t make a draw to bite the pin.

But Calvert made a clutch delicate tap in the eighth to take back some momentum, and his teammates went to work in the ninth and 10th ends to keep the house clean. Calvert finished the game with an open takeout to run New Brunswick out of rocks.

“I was just happy we were on the podium,” said Comeau. “I’m definitely excited about our future; we learned this week that we can compete with the best teams in Canada. Lots to come — it won’t be the last you hear from us.”

Now, the Manitobans’ sights will turn to Switzerland and the chance to wear Canadian colours on the world stage.

“I definitely think I’m ready, and I think our team is, too,” said Calvert. “We just practise so well and so much that I think we’ll be prepared for the challenge.”

Alberta’s Carter Lautner (Calgary), backed up by third Taylor Ardiel, second David Aho, lead Kyle Morrison and coach Jim Lautner, won the bronze medal after losing to New Brunswick in Sunday morning’s semifinal.

Canada has won a leading 17 world junior men’s titles since 1975 and eight women’s crowns (one behind Scotland) since 1988. The last Canadian teams to win world junior titles were skipped by Saskatchewan’s Marliese Kasner (Miller) in 2003 in Flims, Switzerland, and by Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher in Östersund, Sweden, in 2012.
For the second consecutive year, the competition format involves all 14 Member Associations of the Canadian Curling Association (10 provinces, plus Northern Ontario, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon).

The 2015 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors are scheduled for Jan. 24 to Feb. 1 in Corner Brook, N.L.

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2014juniors-fr/