No undefeated teams at Juniors

There are now no unbeaten teams at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Napanee. Tuesday evening, both the Alberta men and women tasted defeat for the first time. Brendan Bottcher’s Edmonton crew lost to Manitoba’s Kyle Doering of Winnipeg, 9-5 in an extra end, while Red Deer’s Jocelyn Peterman fell to Shannon Birchard’s team from Winnipeg, 9-5.

Alberta (photo: Alex van Gulik)

The result left three teams tied for top spot in men’s, Alberta, Manitoba and Nova Scotia (Stuart Thompson of Halifax), all at 6-1 and two tied in women’s…Alberta and British Columbia (Kesa Van Osch of Nanaimo), also at 6-1. Nova Scotia joined the leaders with an 11-2 pounding of Quebec (Félix Asselin of Montreal), spurred by a five-ender in the fifth. “After the second game loss (to Northern Ontario), we’ve just been playing better and better,” said Thompson, who played second for his brother Kendal at last year’s M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors in Calgary. “This was one of our most solid games so far, I think, if not our best. (On the five-ender) They had a lot of come arounds, we got a little lucky, they didn’t make their freezes the last couple of shots and it just set up nicely. We were firing on all cylinders tonight.” Wednesday morning, Nova Scotia faces Alberta in another key contest. The winner will retain at least a share of first place, while the loser could drop to third. “It’ll be great to be one up on them, if we beat them,” continued Thompson. With the loss, Quebec fell to 5-3 while Yukon (Thomas Scoffin of Whitehorse) is at 4-2. In other men’s games, Ontario (Brett DeKoning of Omemee) edged New Brunswick, 11-9 while British Columbia (Josh Hozack of Victoria) won its first game, 5-3 over Newfoundland/Labrador.

BC Skip Kesa Van Osch (photo: Alex van Gulik)

With Peterman losing, British Columbia pulled into a first place tie with a 12-3 dismantling of Newfoundland/Labrador. It was the sixth straight win for the Van Osch sisters (skip Kesa, third Kalia and second Marika) and lead Brooklyn Leitch since dropping their opener, 9-8 to Alberta. Two teams are a game back at 5-2: Manitoba and Nova Scotia (Emily Dwyer of Halifax), while New Brunswick (Jennifer Armstrong of Rothesay) dropped to 4-3 after losing to Ontario (Jamie Sinclair of Manotick), 9-5. Nova Scotia rebounded from its shocking 10-9 loss to Northwest Territories in the afternoon by hammering Quebec, 11-7. “It was a really bad game. I got it out of my system,” explained Dwyer, who shot only 48% in the loss, as her team coughed up an early 6-1 lead and lost it with steals in the ninth and 10th end. “Now I think I’m ready to roll the rest of the week. We had a really good team meeting (after the game), reconnected and talked about what happened (in the loss). And we just knew we were going to come back hard.” The Dwyer team competed in last year’s Canada Winter Games in Halifax and finished fourth. “It helped the whole team. Everyone was cheering for us. We found out what it was like to play with all the noise.” On coming to her first Canadian junior championship, Dwyer added, “We were hoping (to finish in the) top half, but we didn’t set any hard expectations. We wanted to do our best, perform how we can and we didn’t want to come out with any regrets. So far, it’s great.” Dwyer meets Peterman tomorrow morning in Draw 13 at 10:00 am in another key encounter for both. Thirteen men’s and 13 women’s teams (representing the 10 provinces plus Northern Ontario, Northwest Territories and Yukon) are competing at the Strathcona Paper Centre and Napanee & District Curling Club. Round robin play continues with three draws daily (10:00 am, 2:30 pm and 7:00 pm) through Thursday, with the final two draws Friday at 8:00 am and 1:00 pm, after which, pending any tiebreakers, the first place teams advance to their respective finals, while the second and third place finishers meet in semi-finals. TSN will televise the women’s final on Saturday, February 11 and the men’s final on Sunday, February 12, with both games starting at 7:00 pm ET.