Ontario’s Niepage finds groove, advances to semis at 2019 Under-18’s

SHERWOOD PARK, Alta. — Ontario’s Dylan Niepage had a less than ideal start at the 2019 Canadian Under-18 Curling Championships. The 17-year-old skip was feeling discouraged after starting the event with one win and two losses.

Dylan Niepage started the 2019 Canadian Under-18 Curling Championships slow, but built momentum throughout the week to advance to the semifinal. (Photo, Infinite Eye Photography)

But the team from the Coldwater & District Curling Club picked up two important victories during the championship round on Saturday. Niepage, vice-skip Sam Hastings, second Cameron Vanbodegom, lead Treyton Cowell, alternate Chris Inglis and coach Jeff Vanbodegom defeated New Brunswick’s Josh Nowlan (Curl Moncton) 9-6 in the morning and Alberta’s Nathan Molberg (St. Albert Curling Club) 5-4 later in the day.

“This has been a great experience so far. I want to thank everyone who put this together. The host committee, the people working in the restaurant upstairs…It’s been amazing so far. All the ice makers. The ice has been great all week and very consistent,” Niepage said.

While the ice is consistent, Niepage will be the first to admit that his level of play at the start of the week was not.

“In the first couple games I was getting down on myself and that caused me to not play as well as I could have,” Niepage said. “My coach has offered continuous support and also our parents being out there and cheering us on. They’re keeping us nice and light so we’re not getting too down on ourselves, that’s really meant a lot.”

Now his team has strung together five straight victories and is guaranteed to play for a medal after qualifying for the semifinals on Saturday.

Cameron Vanbodegom, left, and Treyton Cowell sweept a stone at the 2019 Canadian Under-18 Curling Championships. (Photo, Infinite Eye Photography)

The majority of the team has played together for the last three seasons with the exception of vice-skip Hastings who joined this year. Niepage and his team battled through a competitive provincial field to earn their first provincial title and represent Ontario at a national championship.

“I’m really honoured to be considered Team Ontario. The provincials we had to go through was such a strong field,” he said.

Niepage wears cochlear implants, needing his first when he was just over one year old. It’s a device that’s necessary for him

“It’s a device that allows me to hear. When I was born I was profoundly deaf so I couldn’t hear anything,” he said. “This device basically allows me to hear.”

Because of it, he’s no different than anyone else both on and off the ice. He’s can communicate with teammates and coaches and maintains a solid academic output at school as an Honours student throughout his entire high school career.

Niepage will attend the University of Guelph’s accounting program next school year with the goal of receiving his CPA certification.

But for now he’ll focus on coming away with a medal at the 2019 Canadian Under-18 Curling Championships. Ontario will play Manitoba’s Jordon McDonald (St. Vital Curling Club, Winnipeg).

On the other side of the bracket, British Columbia’s Erik Colwell (Vernon/Kamloops/Invermere Curling Club) plays Nova Scotia’s Adam McEachren (Truro Curling Club). In the girl’s competition, Northern Ontario’s Bella Croisier (Idylwylde Golf & Country Club, Sudbury) advanced directly to the semifinal with two wins on Saturday. She’ll take on New Brunswick’s Melodie Forsythe (Curl Moncton) on Sunday morning. Ontario’s Emily Deschenes (Manotick Curling Club) plays in Sunday’s semifinal against British Columbia’s Kaila Buchy (Kimberley Curling Club).

The 2019 Canadian Under-18 Curling Championships continue on Sunday with the semifinals at 9 a.m. and the gold- and bronze-medal games at 1 p.m. (all times MT).

Selected games will be streamed live on Curling Canada’s Youtube page: https://www.youtube.com/curlingcanada

For more information on team lineups, schedules and tickets, visit the event website: https://www.curling.ca/2019under18/

This story will be available in French as soon as possible at: https://www.curling.ca/?lang=fr