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Ontario leads women; New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan top men after Day 1 at Juniors

Ontario’s Rachel Homan admits that she has some unfinished business at this year’s M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors, which got underway Saturday at Colisée Cardin and Club de Curling Aurèle-Racine.

Last year in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, her Ottawa Curling Club team finished first after the round robin with a 10-2 mark, but lost the national final to Manitoba’s Kaitlyn Lawes, 7-4.

This year, she’s returned with two of last year’s teammates, third Emma Miskew and lead Lynn Kreviazuk, but has a new second, Laura Crocker, replacing over-age Alison Kreviazuk.

The pre-tournament favourite is off to a perfect start, a 2-0 mark, after a 13-2 pasting of Newfoundland and Labrador (Jen Cunningham) in Saturday evening’s third draw, good enough for sole possession of first place.   Ontario won its first game earlier in the afternoon, defeating Northern Ontario, 9-4.

“We’re playing well,” said the 20-year-old Homan.  “The ice changed, it was a bit different for the two draws. so it’s challenging, but it’s the same for both teams.

“Yes, we definitely have (some unfinished business).  We’re happy to be back.  Last year wasn’t a good experience (losing the final)  but we’re looking forward to this one. We’ll see how far we can take this.

Homan has been touted for the last few years as a rising star in curling and her team has certainly held its own on the women’s tour.  They also competed in the pre-Trials competition last November in Prince George, when trying to qualify for the Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials in Edmonton in December.

They made it to the C semi-finals, but lost to Marie-France Larouche and were eliminated.

“When we can play in the top 12 in Canada for a spot in the Trials, we’re doing something right.  It was a really good experience, especially playing in an arena.  The more you can play on arena ice, the better.   So hopefully  we can carry that along at the nationals and maybe more.”

Right behind Ontario, all with 1-0 records, are British Columbia (Dailene Sivertson of Victoria), Manitoba (Breanne Meakin of Winnipeg) and Quebec (Camille-Marie Lapierre of Otterburn Park), all of whom were idle Saturday night.

In other women’s games,  New Brunswick (Jessica Daigle of Saint John) was a 10-5 winner over Prince Edward Island (Sarah Fullerton of Cornwall), while Saskatchewan (Trish Paulsen of Saskatoon) whipped Nova Scotia (Tara LeGay of Bridgewater), 8-2.

In men’s, Prince Edward Island’s Brett Gallant, the defending Canadian champion, missed a chance to enter the record books when he lost to New Brunswick (Josh Barry of Rothesay), 10-4.  Gallant currently has 41 career wins as a skip, knotted with Quebec’s Martin Crête, in his record-tying sixth appearance at the Juniors.  With the loss, Prince Edward Island dropped to 1-1.

The result put New Brunswick into a tie for top spot at 2-0 with two others –  Ontario (Jake Walker of Kitchener), which defeated Newfoundland and Labrador (Kelly Schuh of St. John’s), 7-4 and Saskatchewan (Braeden Moskowy of Regina), an 11-8 winner over Nova Scotia (Scott Garnett of Halifax), after stealing two in the ninth and 10th ends.

Alberta (Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton), Manitoba (Alex Forrest of Winnipeg) and Quebec (Kevin Rivest of Montreal) are at 1-0 after evening byes.

Round robin play continues on Sunday through Thursday, with draws at 10:00 am, 2:30 pm and 7:00 pm ET.

After Friday’s final two round robin draws at 8:00 am and 12:30 pm, the first place teams advance to their respective finals, while the second and third place teams meet in semi-finals on Saturday, following any required tiebreakers.

The finals take place Sunday, January 24, live on TSN, at Colisée Cardin.