They certainly didn’t come to the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Napanee as a team ‘Under the Radar’.
After all, Brennan Wark’s Northern Ontario squad won a significant spiel back in November in Ottawa, the JSI OVCA Junior Superspiel, where some of his foes this week also competed.
But after opening with three wins in a row here, the Thunder Bay boys proceeded to lose three straight and put themselves in jeopardy of not even making the playoffs.
However, a 9-3 victory over Prince Edward Island in Draw 14 has now moved them to 5-3, with four games remaining in the round robin. They’re certainly within shouting distance of making at least a tiebreaker.
On the Ottawa experience, “We went down and had a really good week and ended up coming out on top. That was really good for us,” said the 19-year-old Wark, a Commerce student at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.
“We played Nova Scotia (skip Stuart Thompson) twice and beat them in the final. Colin Thomas (Newfoundland/Labrador) was there. Thomas Scoffin was there but he had his Mixed team with him.
“It was a good event for us because it proved we could play with all the Junior teams and still come out on top. It gave us confidence.”
“We started really well here (3-0), then we lost three in a row. But we’re back on track now with two wins and we’ll try to get another one (win) tonight (against Northwest Territories) and see how the day finishes.
“We knew we could play that well and get those wins. We had a couple of bad games but we’re back on track now. Good thing we started off good, so we could afford those losses.”
This is the first appearance for Wark at the Juniors, ditto for his teammates Kristofer Leupen, Kyle Toset and Joel Adams.
“We’ve beaten Manitoba and we beat Nova Scotia, so we’re hoping if we get into a tiebreaker for that third spot, those wins will be good for us.”
Alberta (Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton) has regained top spot, now at 8-1, after beating Quebec (Felix Asselin of Montreal), 5-4. Manitoba (Kyle Doering of Winnipeg) is at 7-1, Nova Scotia (Stuart Thompson of Halifax) is 6-2 and Yukon (Thomas Scoffin of Whitehorse) is 5-2. All were idle this afternoon.
Quebec dropped to 5-4 while Ontario (Brett DeKoning of Omemee) improved to 5-4 with an 8-2 pounding of British Columbia (Josh Hozack of Victoria). Northwest Territories (Daniel Murray of Yellowknife) won its second game, drubbing Newfoundland/Labrador (Colin Thomas of St. John’s), 9-4.
The women’s standings got tighter when leader British Columbia (Kesa Van Osch of Nanaimo) lost to Ontario (Jamie Sinclair of Manotick), 6-4. That dropped British Columbia to 7-2, now in a share of first place with Alberta’s Jocelyn Peterman of Red Deer, who beat Quebec (Roxane Perron of Ste-Foy), 9-4.
Right behind the top pair are Nova Scotia (Emily Dwyer of Halifax) and Manitoba (Shannon Birchard of Winnipeg) at 6-2, both of whom had byes Wednesday afternoon. Yukon (Sarah Koltun of Whitehorse) is 4-3, while Ontario improved to 5-4 with its win today.
In other games, Northern Ontario (Kendra Lilly of Sudbury) clipped Prince Edward Island (Sarah Fullerton of Cornwall), 7-5 while Newfoundland/Labrador (Erica Trickett of St. John’s) beat Northwest Territories (Taryn Williams of Yellowknife), 11-5.
The final draw of the day begins at 7:00 pm.