Manitoba women, Alberta men one win away from final berths at Juniors

Manitoba (Shannon Birchard of Winnipeg) and Alberta (Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton) are one win away from clinching first place and berths into their respective finals at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Napanee. Thursday evening in Draw 18 action, Manitoba prevailed over British Columbia (Kesa Van Osch of Nanaimo), 6-5 in a key battle with first place implications, as both had entered the contest with 8-2 marks. After the first two ends were blanked, Manitoba counted two in the third, stole one in the fourth and never looked back.

AB skip Jocelyn Peterman (photo: Mike Fitzpatrick)

With the win, Manitoba goes to 9-2, tied with Alberta (Jocelyn Peterman Red Deer), which edged Yukon (Sarah Koltun of Whitehorse), 7-6. However, Manitoba holds the tiebreaker advantage should the teams wind up tied, since it defeated Alberta, 9-5 on Tuesday. Manitoba faces Yukon in its finale on Friday afternoon at 1:00 pm while Alberta meets New Brunswick in the morning draw at 8:00 am. Regardless, one will be first, the other will be second, depending on the results of Friday’s games. The women’s final is Saturday at 7:00 pm ET, live on TSN (RDS in Quebec), while the semi-final is earlier at 2:00 pm. British Columbia dropped to 8-3 with the loss, but clinched third place and a playoff berth after its closest pursuer, Nova Scotia, lost to Ontario, 9-2. Coincidentally, British Columbia faces Nova Scotia in its final game Friday morning. Since 1971, Manitoba has won nine Canadian junior women’s crowns, Alberta five and British Columbia three. In men’s, Alberta took out Yukon, 7-3 to move to 10-1, a game ahead of Manitoba (Kyle Doering of Winnipeg), which also won 5-3 over British Columbia to improve to 9-2. Alberta faces New Brunswick Friday morning, while Manitoba meets Yukon in the afternoon. An Alberta win propels it to Sunday’s final at 7:00 pm, but if Alberta loses and Manitoba wins, Manitoba will go directly to the final because of its 9-5 round robin victory over Alberta.

NS skip Stuart Thompson (photo: Mike Fitzpatrick)

Nova Scotia (Stuart Thompson of Halifax) moved into a tie for third with Northern Ontario (Brennan Wark of Thunder Bay), both at 8-3, after beating Ontario, 7-2. Nova Scotia faces British Columbia Friday morning, while Northern Ontario meets New Brunswick in the afternoon. The men’s semi-final will be played Sunday at 2:00 pm, with the final at 7:00 pm ET, live on TSN. Alberta has won a leading 15 Canadian junior men’s titles since 1950, Manitoba has taken six, Northern Ontario four and Nova Scotia one. The winners of the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors will represent Canada at the World Juniors, March 3-11 in Östersund, Sweden.