Northern Ontario (Brennan Wark of Thunder Bay) advanced to tonight’s M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Men’s Curling Championship final (live on TSN/RDS at 7:00 pm ET) against Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton after beating Manitoba, 7-3 in Sunday afternoon’s semi-final at the Strathcona Paper Centre in Napanee.
After the first two ends were blanked, Wark took control in the third, making a double for three after both teams appeared to have chances to generate points.
The hole proved too deep to overcome for Manitoba skip Kyle Doering of Winnipeg, who, at 16 years of age, was the youngest skip competing here. His team was only able to take one in the fourth after Doering wrecked on a guard while attempting a hit for two.
However, Manitoba stole one in the fifth to close the gap to 3-2 when Wark failed on an in-off.
In the sixth end, Northern Ontario hit for a deuce to open a 5-2 lead and was never seriously threatened thereafter. After a blanked seventh, Manitoba was forced to take one in the eighth, and when Wark counted two in the ninth, the match was conceded.
“It was our goal to be in the final and we’re finally here,” said Wark. “We’ve got one more game left.
“We got that big three early. That was important. Then we just kept the pressure on and never lost the lead.”
In the round robin game against Alberta in Draw 8, Northern Ontario lost 10-3.
“We had one bad end (the fifth) when they got four. That was in our slump then, our second loss (in a row). We’re a bit hotter now, we’re playing a lot better, so that shouldn’t happen again.”
Alberta finished first after the round robin with an 11-1 mark to advance to tonight’s final. Northern Ontario, which opened with three wins before losing three in a row, tied for second with Manitoba and Nova Scotia at 9-3, but was awarded the semi-final berth for its round robin wins over both. Wark is now working on a seven-game winning streak.
Alberta has won a leading 15 Canadian Junior Men’s titles since 1950, the last two by skip Charley Thomas in 2006 and 2007.
Northern Ontario has won only four titles and the last one took place 16 year ago in 1996 by Jeff Currie.
The winner will represent Canada at the World Junior Curling Championships in Östersund, Sweden.