Team Purcell rides three-game win streak into playoff contention at 2022 World Junior Curling Championships
The Canadian men’s curling team won its third-straight game, while the women’s team is focused on having a solid finish at the 2022 World Junior Curling Championships in Jönköping, Sweden.
A two-win day for Team Owen Purcell (5-3) elevated the junior men’s foursome from the Halifax Curling Club into the playoff mix with victories over playoff-calibre teams at the Jönköping Curling Club on Thursday.
Purcell, vice-skip Joel Krats, second Adam McEachren, lead Scott Weagle, alternate Scott Mitchell, coach Anthony Purcell, and team lead Jeff Hoffart started with an all-around efficient morning game win against Jae Beom Lee of South Korea (3-5) by a score of 7-4. Canada leapfrogged South Korea in the standings and was one step closer to a playoff spot with the win.
“We’re definitely starting to get rolling here a little bit. I think we’re more confident. The ice is starting to straighten out, which I think is working to our favour, as well. But for the most part, it’s the confidence,” Weagle said.
With the game tied 1-1, Team Purcell found its form in the fourth end and carried it throughout by putting a series of well-placed draws and accurate hits on display for the remainder of the match.
Canada scored two when it had hammer and forced South Korea to one from that point on. In the eighth end, Canada sat one and made a full four-foot draw to get a second point, taking a 7-3 lead. South Korea scored one in the ninth but opted to concede instead of going into the final end three down without hammer.
But to rise into the four-team playoffs, Canada will need to knock one of those existing teams out. On Thursday night in Sweden, it took another step closer to that goal by defeating Norway’s Grunde Buraas 9-3.
The game reached its peak in the ninth end. Leading by one, Purcell settled into the hack and made a stellar triple takeout to score five and finish the game.
“We’re definitely feeling great right now. Skipper made a peach. Definitely one of the best shots I’ve seen in a long time for the five,” said Weagle. “It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that. It was exciting, and it got the boys fired up. It was a lot of fun to be a part of.”
Team Purcell kept Norway off the board for nearly the entire first half of the game. Canada started with the last stone and opened with a score of one. Norway blanked the second, gave up a steal of one to Canada in the third, blanked the fourth and then scored its first point of the game in the fifth end to trail 2-1 at the halfway mark.
It picked up in the second half of the game. The teams traded scores of two in the sixth and seventh ends. Then in the eighth, Canada put the game away with the five-ender, its biggest single-end score of the event.
Weagle and Purcell joined forces in 2018 and found immediate success, winning the 2018 Canadian Under-18 Curling Championships men’s gold medal. Over the past four years, it’s been a whirlwind of an adventure for the team and filled with moments of joy and anguish on and off the ice.
In 2019 McEachren joined the team, and it had lofty expectations of repeating at the national under-18 event. But the team lost the bronze-medal game to Manitoba. In 2020, Weagle and Purcell competed at the New Holland Canadian Juniors but did not qualify for playoffs. But the Nova Scotia-based team bounced back in 2021 and earned the right to represent Canada at the world juniors by winning a qualification event.
“There’s been some ups and some downs. We had Covid cancel most of our season last year and some of it this year, but it’s been really good for the most part. He’s just a really great guy and fun to be around,” Weagle said, who is embracing every moment representing Canada.
Canada’s combined win with Norway’s loss levelled both teams to records of five wins and three losses and are now in a three-way tie for the final two playoff spots alongside Switzerland’s Kim Schwaller.
Germany’s Benjamin Kapp and Scotland’s James Craik have both qualified for the men’s playoffs with 7-1 records.
For its best chance of qualifying for playoffs, Canada must win its final round-robin game on Friday against Sweden’s Axel Landelius (1-7) at 8 a.m. (all times ET).
“We’re going to keep it the same. Keep rolling with what we’re doing. We’ll try to play a little more conservative but will take our chances when we get them,” Weagle said.
Team Isabelle Ladouceur (2-5; Curl Sudbury) took on Delaney Strouse of the United States (6-1) in its lone game of the day in the women’s competition.
The United States defeated Canada 11-5 and became the first team to qualify for the playoffs with the win. In the middle of the game, the Americans stole three consecutive ends and capped the victory off with a four-ender in the ninth.
Ladouceur, vice-skip Jamie Smith, second Lauren Rajala, lead Katie Shaw, alternate Katy Lukowich, coach Steve Acorn and team leader Lori Olson-Johns started the game with hammer. After giving up a first-end steal of one, the team had the U.S.A. against the ropes in the second. Strouse came through for her team, making a double to limit some damage, and it kept Ladouceur to a draw for two instead of a potential three or more.
In the third end, the U.S.A. regained its lead with a score of two and went on a roll stealing one in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the sixth.
Canada scored one in the seventh and stole two in the eighth after the U.S.A. pulled the string on its final draw attempt, but Stouse and the Americans made a hit for four in the ninth and finished the game.
The Canadian women’s team will miss out on the four-team playoffs but aims to finish the final day of the round-robin competition firmly on Friday. Team Ladouceur plays two important games. First, it takes on Bo Bae Kang of South Korea (3-4) at 3 a.m., followed by Japan’s Sae Yamamoto (5-2) at 1 p.m.
The 10 teams of each gender play nine-game round-robin schedules, with the top four advancing to the semifinal playoffs on Saturday. The winners advance to the gold-medal game and losers will play in the bronze-medal game on Sunday.
World Curling TV’s Curling Channel on Recast will stream select Canadian games with either light coverage (two static cameras, no commentary) or full coverage (multi-camera with commentary). To see the streaming schedule, click here.
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For the list of teams, draw information and live scoring, visit the event website.
The French version of this story will be posted as soon as possible at https://www.curling.ca/?lang=fr