Skip Jake Walker of Kitchener made it a double for Ontario Sunday at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors, presented by AMJ Campbell Van Lines, defeating Manitoba (Alex Forrest of Winnipeg), 8-7 in the men’s final at Le Colisée.
Earlier, skip Rachel Homan and her Ottawa Curling Club team defeated British Columbia, 9-5, to complete the week unbeaten at 13-0. It’s the first time since 2003 that a province has won a Canadian junior men’s and women’s title in the same year. Saskatchewan also won both in 2003 in Ottawa, by Marliese Miller and Steve Laycock.
It’s the first Canadian junior title for Walker, third Craig Van Ymeren, second Geoff Chambers and lead Matt Mapletoft, along with coach John Thompson. Van Ymeren and Chambers, though, finished the runner-up in 2008 in Sault Ste. Marie, as third and second, respectively, for skip Travis Fanset, when losing to Quebec’s William Dion.
It is the ninth Canadian junior men’s title for Ontario since 1950 but the first since skip John Morris won in 1999 in Kelowna.
It looked like the men’s final was headed to an extra end, as Forrest attempted a takeout of an Ontario counter, with three Manitoba stones in the house, which would have left Walker a draw for one. But Forrest flashed and all Walker had to do was draw the full eight-foot for the dramatic win.
“In the 10th end, Craig (third Van Ymeren) said it doesn’t make any difference about the first six rocks, just the skip’s deuce,” said Walker. “I was surprised he (Forrest) missed it but I would have played the same shot.
“We were confident coming here, but this has exceeded our goals. I’m ecstatic right now. Haven’t even thought about Flims. I think execution is all it was. When we played well, we won. And we played well when it counted.”
Walker’s team had finished the round robin in second place with a 9-3 record, one game behind 10-2 Manitoba. Saturday night, Walker won the semi-final over Saskatchewan, 8-5 to advance to a rematch with Manitoba, after losing the round robin encounter, 5-4.
The game opened with Ontario stealing one in the first but Manitoba evened the score in the second. In the third, Walker calmly drew the four-foot while looking at four Manitoba stones. But in the fourth, Forrest made a double for three as the ‘tobans’ went up 4-2. However, Ontario came right back with a pair in the fifth to knot the contest at four.
Ontario climbed back in front with another steal in the sixth, when Forrest, looking at three red stones, was unable to remove them all with a takeout. Yet, Manitoba again evened the score in the seventh when Forrest successfully drew against two Ontario stones.
Walker tried to blank the eighth but hit and stayed for one. Forrest then came up with a pair in the ninth for a 6-5, heading to the 10th.
On the 10th end miss, Forrest said, “We were happy with how we were set up. It was looking good till my last one when I could have drawn or could have hit. I could see about half of it. I thought I had it but it just ran pretty straight, although it was tight to the guard.”
Walker and his Westmount Golf & Country Club team will now represent Canada at the 2010 world junior curling championships in Flims, Switzerland, March 6-14.
Canada has won a leading 16 world junior men’s titles since 1975, the last by Alberta’s Charley Thomas in 2007 in Eveleth, Minnesota.