TALLINN, ESTONIA – The Canadian men pulled off an 8-3 win in the rubber match against Norway, the 2014 World Junior bronze-medallists, to open the 2015 World Junior Curling Championships.
Last year, Winnipeg’s Braden Calvert, along with teammates Kyle Kurz, Lucas Van Den Bosch, Brendan Wilson, won their round robin game against the Norwegians, but lost the bronze medal match 7-5 in a tight-scoring game. This group of men, along with alternate Colton Lott and coach Tom Clasper, were bound and determined to not let this game get away from them this time.
And win they did! After a blank in the first end, Canada settled for one in the second end to open up the scoring. In the third end, Canada forced Norway to take one to tie the game up.
The “TSN turning point” came in the fourth end when Canada capitalized on some key misses by Norway and scored a big four-ender to surge ahead 5-1.
The fifth end saw the Norwegians sitting two in the house before Calvert cleared the opposition rocks with a double to lay one and force Norway to play the blank.
A great hit run double by Kurz set up the end to split the house and sit two. Norway attempted to come around a guard, but rubbed leaving Calvert with a hit to sit three. Needing to get a piece of the four-foot to score, Norway came up short of the house to give up a steal of three.
In the seventh end, the Norwegians picked up their deuce to bring the score to 8-3. Despite Norway’s best freeze attempts, Calvert makes a great double in the eighth end to blank and end the game.
“We definitely had [Norway] pegged at a top three team,” said Calvert. “We knew to beat them would be pretty huge and came out in our first game and we played pretty steady. Not great, but steady.”
The men were quite pleased with their start this year after a slower start in the round robin at this competition last year.
“Everyone says that experience is so key and you don’t really believe it until you’re here,” said Calvert. “One more year of experience is definitely helping us so far.”
On the women’s side, Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque, Danielle Schmiemann, Holly Jamieson, Jessica Iles, alternate Kristen Streifel and coach Amanda-Dawn Coderre faced off against the Czech Republic in their first game of the competition. Though Rocque won the gold medal at the 2014 World Juniors, she has a whole new lineup with her for this year’s championship.
Rocque imparted words of wisdom from her previous experience at last year’s championship to help calm her new teammates’ nerves.
“I tried to tell them a few things about coming to a national championship – don’t take it too seriously and just have fun. You never know when you’ll be back.”
The women kept the beginning of the game simple with an open house and the Czech Republic followed suit and threw their last rocks in the first and second end through.
Canada went aggressive with more rocks in play and it paid off with a steal of one in the third end. After another round of target practice and a blank end in the fourth, Canada again took a more aggressive approach in the fifth end. Rocque made the perfect freeze to a Czech Republic rock biting the back button. Despite the opponent’s attempts to remove the shot rock, it was locked in there and ended up leading Canada to a steal of one to go up 2-0.
Canada forced the Czech Republic to one in the sixth end to bring the score to 2-1. Canada then capitalized on a roll out from the Czechs on their last rock in the seventh with a draw for two.
Another series of steals of one in the eighth and three in the ninth sealed the 8-1 win for Canada.
But the team isn’t taking any of their success for granted, as Rocque and Jamieson are aging out after this season.
“Every curler’s end goal is to be [at the World Juniors],” said Rocque. “We’re probably only going to be able to play this year together, so we just tried to make a good run at it and everything ended up in our favour.”
Tomorrow, the Canadian men will take on Russia at 9 a.m. local, then the U.S.A. for the evening game kicking off at 7 p.m. local time. The Canadian women will take on the U.S.A. during the afternoon draw at 2 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) where they will be the feature broadcast game.
The World Junior Curling Championships will be broadcast on the World Curling Federation’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/WorldCurlingTV
The Canadian women’s team will be the featured game on YouTube tomorrow at 2 p.m. local, 7 a.m. ET and the Canadian men’s team will be featured tomorrow at 7 p.m. local, noon ET.
For the full game and broadcast schedule information, go to: http://wjcc2015.curlingevents.com/schedule
For even more of an insider look, Streifel, women’s team alternate, will be keeping a blog of the team’s adventures in Tallinn. Read all about it here: http://k-streif.blogspot.ca
This story will be posted as soon as possible at http://www.curling.ca/?lang=fr