From Learn to Curl to home ice advantage in 10 years

Ten years ago Anouk Roy joined a Learn to Curl program in Moncton, N.B.  Monday night in her home province Roy had a team from one of Canada’s most decorated curling provinces on the ropes in the opening draw at the Travelers Curling Club Championship.

“It can be scary representing your province on home ice,” admitted the Travelers rookie.  Roy and her New Brunswick rink of third Courtney Berry, second Julia Goodin and lead Louise Richard ultimately dropped their opening game 9-7 to Manitoba’s Deb McCreanor and her team out of the La Salle Curling Club.  Roy and her team from Curl Moncton trailed Manitoba for much of the game until a steal of two points in the seventh end. The New Brunswick champions had a 7-6 lead playing the eighth end without last rock but were unable to close out the game.   

Roy, who curls twice a week and balances her career and her two children’s sports schedules, felt nerves were likely a factor in the first half of the game.

“It took us four ends to get our legs against a strong team but the shot was there for us in the last end,” she says.

Roy’s story of rising from a beginner curler to a national competitor is a common one across many teams competing at the Miramichi Curling Club this week.  The Travelers Curling Club Championship brings together the best club curlers from Canada’s ten provinces, three territories and Northern Ontario.

She credits the beginning of her curling career for shaping her ability to make it to a national championship “Anyone who wants to curl needs to start with a Learn to Curl program. Don’t just throw rock, find a program and learn about the game.”

Ten years after she joined that beginner program and after the opening draw of the championship, she rejoiced in the opportunity ahead of her and her team this week. “I’ve always played sports and being able to have a national championship for this level of curling is so important.”

New Brunswick’s men’s skip Trevor Hanson has been attracted to pursuing a Travelers championship for many years.

“There’s the spirit of this event that’s so special. You’re playing in your home club and then you go on to provincials and then you make it to nationals where you’re still sitting with the team after the game and meeting new people who also maybe can’t make the sacrifices that elite curlers have to make to succeed,” Hanson said before the event started Monday.

The team out of the Oromocto Curling Club in their opening draw took Ontario’s Matthew Dupuis to an extra end where they gave up a steal in a 6-5 loss. Despite the loss Hanson, third Chris Jenkins, second Jeff Rankin, lead Chris Cogswell and alternate Todd Hill are also enjoying their first national championship. “It’s something we’ve always dreamed about but it’s never happened for us until now.”  

Organizers have sold hundreds of event passes and Hanson hopes to embrace the home province support.

“It’s just so exciting to be in a nationals in our own province,” Hanson said while recalling New Brunswick’s Andrea Crawford’s 2005 Canadian Junior title on home ice in Fredericton.  “Remembering back to the electricity in that building and I still think of that feeling we all felt cheering along for her.”

Team New Brunswick (Curling Canada/Jordan Pinder photo)

In other men’s play Manitoba cracked a six-ender in the seventh end to get past Alberta 10-4. Saskatchewan, trailing three points in the final end, squeaked out four points to defeat Northern Ontario 8-7.  Prince Edward Island got past Nunavut 9-7. Nova Scotia were 6-2 winners over Yukon. Newfoundland and Labrador downed Northwest Territories 12-4.

Alberta, Northwest Territories, Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia and Yukon picked up first-draw victories in the other women’s division games on Monday afternoon.

The 14 men’s and 14 women’s teams are split into two seven-team round-robin pools. After a single round-robin, the top three teams in each pool will make the playoffs. The first-place teams will be seeded directly into the semifinals, Friday, Nov. 23, at 6:30 p.m. (all times Atlantic). The second- and third-place teams will meet in crossover quarter-finals Friday at 1:30 p.m., with the winners moving into the semis.
The semifinal winners will play for gold, and the losers will play for bronze, Saturday, Nov. 24, at 9 a.m.

Selected games from the 2018 Travelers Curling Club Championship will be live-streamed at www.curling.ca/2018travelers.

Scores and standings from the event will be available at www.curling.ca/scoreboard.

For draw times, team lineups and other event info, go to: www.curling.ca/2018travelers/