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Teams finalized for M&M Meat Shops Juniors

By Adam Prudhomme (The Napanee Beaver)….. All 26 rinks that will compete at next month’s M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Championships are now confirmed following this weekend.s qualifying tournament in Medicine Hat, Alta.Alberta was the last province to announce their entry, choosing to hold their qualifier a week later than the rest. Punching their ticket for the women’s side was Red Deer’s Jocelyn Peterman with third Brittany Tran, second Rebecca Konschuh and lead Kristine Anderson.

On the men’s side Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher qualified with Evan Asmussen at third, Landon Bucholz at second and Bryce Bucholz at lead.

“We’re certainly happy that we have 26 teams that are booking their ticket for Napanee,” said tournament chair Stephen Paul.  “We’ve got a real interesting group here from across the country. We have a lot of teams who are first time competing at nationals, which we think is exciting, and also a few that are quite experienced.” All 10 provinces plus the Northwest Territories, the Yukon and Northern Ontario, will square off in a six-day round robin in Napanee starting on Feb. 4. (Women’s Championship Final is scheduled for 7:00 pm February 11th while the Men will square off Sunday, February 12th at 7:00 pm).

Paul expects a wide open field with a number of teams capable of advancing to the finals. In the past decade only twice has a women’s team repeated while just once on the men’s side.

As with any curling event, tournament organizers have plenty of social activities planned for the time between games. The teams are inviting to an opening banquet at the Strathcona Paper Centre on Feb. 3 for a chance to meet their opponents. All week long local musicians will entertain at the SPC from 5 to 7 p.m. during dinner. An awards banquet will be held Feb. 10 at Napanee District Secondary School.

Games will be held at both the Napanee District Curling Club and SPC.

The job of converting the arena into five curling sheets will get under way shortly after the final whistle of the Napanee Raiders’ Jan. 30 evening game against Campbellford.  “We’ll work pretty much around the clock getting the ice ready to go,” said Paul. “Our first practice will take place on Friday Feb. 3.”

Many of the arena’s staff have experience in turning the rink from a hockey surface to a curling surface, having pulled it off flawlessly for the 2010 Tankard.

As the tournament enters its final preparation stages, the main focus of tournament organizers has turned to filling the seats.

“Now that the teams have been named we’re getting calls from all across the country buying tickets and booking hotel rooms,” said Paul. “It’s exciting now because it’s all starting to roll.”

Good seats are still available by calling 613-354-4423. Event organizers are envisioning the juniors as being one of, if not the biggest sporting event to come to Napanee.

“It’s going to be great curling,” said Paul. “These are the future stars that you’ll see at Olympic games and playing in the Brier and the Scotties.”

A complete list of the teams, as well as the tournament draw, can be found at www.curling.ca/championships/juniors.