Alberta, skipped by Brendan Bottcher, has sole possession of first place at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Men’s Curling Championship after demolishing Northern Ontario, 10-3 in Draw 8 Monday afternoon in Napanee.
It was the fifth consecutive win for the Saville Sports Centre team, and combined with previously unbeaten Quebec losing to Newfoundland/Labrador, 8-5, they’re now alone on top.
On the women’s side, Red Deer’s Jocelyn Peterman took out Northern Ontario, 12-6, to also move to 5-0.
“It’s a great start for us. We’ve been playing real well so far,” said the 20-year-old Bottcher, a Civil Engineering student at the University of Alberta. Bottcher and his front-end twins Landon and Bryce Bucholz competed at the 2010 Juniors in Sorel-Tracy, finishing with a 6-6 mark. New to the team this year is third Evan Asmussen.
“We learned a lot from our run in 2010. We actually curled pretty well. It was just a few of the small things that we needed to learn. Then, last year, we learned how tough it was to get out of the province of Alberta. And I think it’s all helped us so far this week,” continued Bottcher, who leads all skips with a red-hot 88% shooting percentage.
“He’s (Evan) been curling great. He’s really fit in with the three of us nicely. He’s been on fire so far this week.
“We’re definitely playing it game by game but I think if we can get to nine (wins), 10 for sure, that will get you in (the playoffs). The depth in Alberta is huge but even here this week, there’s a lot of really good teams.”
Today’s game turned in the fifth end when Bottcher made an angle raise takeout for four, for a 5-1 lead over Brennan Wark’s Thunder Bay squad.
“That definitely got us in the lead. We still needed a few more points after that, but that was a great end put up by my whole team.”
On the fact that he’s only playing one game on Monday, Bottcher mused on what the team would do afterwards. “I don’t know. Go home, relax, back to the hotel, I guess. It’s nice to catch up on some sleep.”
Alberta has won a leading 15 Canadian junior men’s titles since 1950, the last by Charley Thomas in 2007.
With its first loss, Quebec (Félix Asselin of Montreal) dropped to 4-1. The leaders are followed by idle Nova Scotia and Manitoba at 3-1, then Northern Ontario, which lost both their games today, at 3-2.
Alberta’s Peterman has a host of challengers, but currently, British Columbia’s Kesa Van Osch of Nanaimo is alone in second with a 4-1 mark, followed by Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Manitoba, all at 3-1.
British Columbia posted a 9-4 decision this afternoon over Prince Edward Island, cementing the win with steals of three in the seventh end and two in the eighth.
“We had some awesome shot-making on our part and they had some unlucky breaks,” she explained.
The 20-year-old Van Osch, who recently graduated as a Horticulture Technician from Vancouver Island University, is curling with her sisters Kalia, 18 and Marika, 15, with Brooklyn Leitch at lead. They are all making their Juniors debut and have won four in a row since dropping their opener to Alberta, a close 9-8 verdict.
“Things are going absolutely wonderful,” said Van Osch. “Both ice surfaces (at the Strathcona Paper Centre and Napanee & District Curling Club) are awesome. We’re enjoying playing on them.”
Play continues with Draw 9 at 7:00 pm.