Quebec, skipped by 17-year-old Félix Asselin of Montreal, has climbed into a share of the lead with Alberta’s 20-year-old Brendan Bottcher, both now at 3-0, through five draws of the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Napanee.Northern Ontario (Brennan Wark of Thunder Bay) is also unbeaten, but with only a 2-0 mark.
Asselin directed his Glenmore Curling Club team to a 7-5 win over New Brunswick (Josh Barry of Fredericton), stealing one in the 10th end Sunday afternoon to cement the verdict.
Coming off earlier wins of 5-2 over Ontario and a tight 6-5 decision over British Columbia on Saturday, Quebec has tipped its hand as a team to be reckoned with the rest of the week, even if their average age is only 16 ½.
Third Marc-Alexandre Charest-Dion and second Lewis South are both 16, while lead Sami Guimond-Jaber is just 17.
“Our mindset was pretty much that we knew we weren’t the favourites here,” explained Asselin. “But we knew that when we worked hard, when we got a lot of practice in, and if we worked hard every game, we could get some wins. And here we are, now with three of them.
“Our first game was pretty good. This one started a little shaky but the last five ends we got our concentration back. Three of us have been together for four years, but my third for only two years. We knew we had a chance to win the province and we managed to win all our games.”
He’s not too young to remember of couple of recent Quebec provincial junior champions, though.
“First, Martin Crête and then, William Dion, a couple of years ago, did great,” recalled Asselin. Crête won 41 games in five appearances at the national championship, while Dion won the 2008 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors in Sault Ste. Marie, before earning a bronze medal at the World Juniors.
As young as he is, he’s still conservative enough to say he’s taking the event, “A day at a time, a game at a time, trying to win as many as possible.” So far, so good.
Another youngster, in fact, along with Prince Edward’s Island Alex Matters, the youngest skips, at age 16, competing in Napanee, is Manitoba’s Kyle Doering (pronounced Deering), who won a huge one, 7-2 over Ontario, to move to 2-1. Earlier in the day, Doering dusted Northwest Territories, 13-2. Manitoba had opened with a 5-3 loss to Northern Ontario.
“We had our first game nerves for sure. I know I did,” said Doering. “I didn’t curl my best that game. It’s really our first time here, so we’re adjusting to the atmosphere and everything, the loud noise from the crowd.
“After that, I think, we curled really well today with those two wins, especially this last game. We’re happy with our team and our effort today.”
Doering’s West Kildonan quartet of third Colton Lott (16), second Derek Oryniak (17) and lead Lucas Van Den Bosch (18) pulled off an upset at their provincial.
“We were ranked fourth in the province, but the top three teams were all nineteen and 20-year-olds. It’s very tough,” recalled Doering. “Unreal. I still can’t describe the feeling of winning that. We were an underdog. To beat the older guys and play the way we did. With our original second Derek going to the Youth Olympic Games, and our fifth man (Kyle Kurz) to play the way he did…in five elimination games in a row.”
Doering’s team showed major promise last year when winning a bronze medal at the Canada Games in Halifax. “The Canada Games experienced really helped us a lot. With the crowd, the noise, but it’s not like this, in an arena.”
In other men’s action, Nova Scotia (Stuart Thompson of Halifax) whipped Newfoundland/Labrador (Colin Thomas of St. John’s), 8-2, while Saskatchewan (Brady Scharback of Saskatoon) proved a 7-4 winner over Yukon. Both Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan improved to 2-1, tied with Manitoba.
On the women’s side, with undefeated (3-0) Alberta (Jocelyn Peterman of Red Deer) idle, five teams are now a game back at 2-1. Ontario (Jamie Sinclair of Manotick), Nova Scotia (Emily Dwyer of Halifax), New Brunswick (Jennifer Armstrong of Rothesay), British Columbia (Kesa Van Osch of Nanaimo) and Manitoba (Shannon Birchard of Winnipeg).
In games Sunday afternoon, Ontario clipped Manitoba, 7-5; New Brunswick stole one in the 10th to clinch a 5-3 win over Quebec; Nova Scotia was a 7-5 winner over Newfoundland/Labrador and Saskatchewan (Kristen Streifel of Saskatoon) won its first, 8-2 over Yukon (Sarah Koltun of Whitehorse).
Play continues with Draw 6 tonight at 7:00 pm.