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Pressure mounting for teams at 2015 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors

CORNER BROOK, N.L. — It’s already been a grind for the competing teams at the 2015 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championships.

Saskatchewan skip Jacob Hersikorn is headed to the Championship Round at the 2015 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors. (Photo, Amanda Rumboldt)

Saskatchewan skip Jacob Hersikorn is headed to the Championship Round at the 2015 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors. (Photo, Amanda Rumboldt)

But now, things are about to get a little more serious with the impending end of the preliminary round-robin, and the determining of which teams will still be alive to advance to the weekend playoff round.

Three more men’s teams clinched spots in the eight-team Championship Round after victories on Tuesday morning — Saskatchewan’s Jacob Hersikorn (Saskatoon) after an entertaining 7-5 win over previously unbeaten Karsten Sturmay of Alberta (Edmonton; 5-1); defending champ Braden Calvert of Manitoba (Winnipeg) with an 8-5 triumph over B.C.’s Paul Henderson (Victoria; 3-2); and 2014 silver-medallist Rene Comeau of New Brunswick (Fredericton) with a 7-6 win over Northern Ontario’s Tanner Horgan (Sudbury; 1-4).

Team B.C. coach Todd Troyer (middle) discusses options with the players. (Photo, Amanda Rumboldt)

Team B.C. coach Todd Troyer (middle) discusses options with the players. (Photo, Amanda Rumboldt)

The top three teams in each pool, plus two teams with the next best won-lost records, advance to the Championship Round for a further four-game partial round robin from Wednesday through Friday, with their earlier records carried forward.

Meanwhile, the six teams of each gender that don’t qualify for the Championship Round meet in a Seeding Round to determine ranking for the 2016 Canadian Juniors in Stratford, Ont.

Hersikorn’s team — third Cole Tenetiuk, second Brady Kendel, lead Brandon Leippi, coach Laurie Burrows — joined the Albertans in the championship round out of Pool B, scoring three in the 10th end thanks to Hersikorn’s precision angle-raise tap for the victory.

“That was a really good game; close the whole way,” said Hersikorn, 20 who’s skipping in his first M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors after playing second for Saskatchewan in 2012 and 2013. “We just did our best to have all the right angles at the end. I was pretty confident throwing the last rock. The last end, we played really well — we didn’t miss much. It was a good game overall.”

Saskatchewan, Alberta and New Brunswick finished the preliminary round at 5-1 to nail down Championship Round berths, while the fourth Pool B qualifier will be decided in this afternoon’s draw.

In Pool A, Calvert’s reigning champs — third Kyle Kurz, second Lucas Van Den Bosch, lead Brendan Wilson — took control against B.C. with three in the fifth end and a steal of one in the sixth to improve to 4-1, behind only Quebec’s Félix Asselin (5-0). Both teams are through to the Championship Round.

We’re in a pretty good spot,” said Calvert, who’ll finish his preliminary round against Newfoundland/Labrador’s Greg Smith (Stephenville; 2-3) this afternoon. “There’s lots of adrenalin out there, but we’re trying not to look to far ahead and just take it one game at a time.”

Saskatchewan fans cheer on their team on Tuesday. (Photo, Amanda Rumboldt)

Saskatchewan fans cheer on their team on Tuesday. (Photo, Amanda Rumboldt)

In other men’s action, Prince Edward Island’s Tyler Smith (Montague; 2-3) kept his hopes of advancing alive with a 13-2 win over Matthew Miller of the Northwest Territories (Inuvik; 0-6); and Nova Scotia’s Matthew Manuel (Halifax; 2-4) also has hopes of moving on after beating Nunavut’s Kane Komaksiutiksak (Rankin Inlet; 0-5).

In women’s play, B.C.’s Corryn Brown (Kamloops) finished off a perfect preliminary round at 6-0 in Pool B with an 8-4 triumph over New Brunswick’s Justine Comeau (Fredericton; 3-3). The result also clinched a Championship Round berth for Saskatchewan’s Kristen Streifel (Saskatoon; 4-1) who had a bye.

In the other women’s game, Manitoba’s Beth Peterson (Winnipeg; 3-3), claimed a must-win, 12-5 over the Yukon’s Bailey Horte (Whitehorse, 1-5). Manitoba is 3-3 in Pool A and in the hunt for a tiebreaker to advance.

Alberta’s Kelsey Rocque (Edmonton; 5-0) and Ontario’s Chelsea Brandwood (Hamilton; 5-1) are through to the Championship Round.

Action at the 2015 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors continues on Tuesday with draws at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. (All times NST; EST plus 90 minutes).

Round-robin games are taking place at both the Corner Brook Civic Centre and the Corner Brook Curling Club.

Upon completion of the Championship Round, the top team of each gender advances to its respective final, while the second- and third-place finishers meet in a semifinal to determine the other finalist.

All members of the non-playoff teams will compete in a Mixed Doubles competition on Saturday and Sunday.

All playoff games will be played at the Civic Centre. The men’s and women’s playoffs will be televised by the TSN network as well as RDS2 (French). The women’s semifinal is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 31, at 1:30 p.m. NST/noon EST, with the gold-medal game at 8 p.m. NST/6:30 p.m. EST.

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at http://www.curling.ca/2015juniors-fr/

The full scoreboard can be viewed at http://www.curling.ca/scoreboard/