Playing for a medal!

Owen Purcell and his team from the Halifax Curling Club are moving onto the semifinals at the 2022 World Junior Curling Championships. (Photo, World Curling Federation/Cheyenne Boone)

Team Purcell advances to the semifinals at 2022 World Junior Curling Championships

Skip Owen Purcell and his Canadian junior men’s team from the Halifax Curling Club are among the final four teams to keep their dreams of winning a world junior curling championship alive at the 2022 World Junior Curling Championships in Jönköping, Sweden.

Canada bested Sweden’s Axel Landelius (1-8) by 6-3 during the final round-robin draw for the men at the Jönköping Curling Club. 

Purcell, vice-skip Joel Krats, second Adam McEachren, lead Scott Weagle, alternate Scott Mitchell, coach Anthony Purcell, and team lead Jeff Hoffart finished third overall in the round robin with six wins and three losses. 

“It’s the ultimate goal,” Purcell said of making it this far into the event. “Ever since the start of the season, this was our goal to be in this position. To be able to be doing this with my best friends as well is fantastic.”

Canada’s path to defend its world junior men’s title in 2020 (the event was cancelled in 2021 due to Covid-19) goes through Germany’s Benjamin Kapp (7-2) in a semifinal game slated for 8 a.m. ET (all times ET) on Saturday.

Team Purcell’s spot in the semifinals was never guaranteed after the team started with a 2-3 record. But the unit persevered and made improvements all week long, leading to wins in the remaining four games to clinch the spot. That four-game win streak also included wins against two other playoff teams: first-place Team James Craik of Scotland (8-1) and fourth-place Grunde Buraas of Norway (6-3). 

“It’s a whole new event now. Everybody is starting from the bottom, so now it’s a whole new ball game. We know what we’re doing, we have a game plan that we’re going to stick to it, and we’re ready to get going,” Purcell said.

Heading into Canada’s last round-robin game, Landelius and his team from Sweden already knew they would be relegated to the World B Junior Curling Championship by finishing in one of the bottom three spots at the event. But his team came out firing and determined to go blow for blow against a Canadian team looking to cement a place in the playoffs. 

Sweden started the game with the hammer and blanked the first two ends before taking a single point in the third. Sweden added a steal of one in the fourth end by securing its stone onto the button with backing. It forced Purcell and his team to play a big-weight in-off to dislodge the Sweden stone, and while it was a valiant attempt, Sweden stole the point. 

Canada tied the game in the fifth end, aided by a superb double from Krats to sit two behind cover. Both teams were managing a difficult draw path to the four-foot, which neither could master. Purcell had a triple raise hack-weight shot for three, but it didn’t curl enough.

“I thought we were able to do a lot of what we wanted this game. They played really well, especially in the first half, but they made a few mistakes in the second half, and I thought we capitalized on that really well,” Purcell said.

Those mistakes started in the sixth end when Team Purcell took its first lead of the game. The Canadians played a draw and were a bit wide; however, the stone clipped a guard out front and redirected behind a centre guard. Sweden attempted to follow it in, but it over-curled and Canada stole a point. 

In the 10th end, Purcell made a lone Swedish stone in the house go away and run his opponents out of rocks to win.

“The most important thing that I’ve learned so far is patience. You need to keep making simple shots and then attack when the time is right. That patience and picking your spots have been the most important thing for us this week,” Purcell said of what he’s learned over the nine games played this week.

The winners of the Canada/Germany and Scotland/Norway games will advance to the gold-medal games, while the losers will play in the bronze-medal game. Both of those games are scheduled for Sunday at 3 a.m.

Isabelle Ladouceur, left, and Jamie Smith of Canada split a pair of games on Friday to end the round robin. (Photo, World Curling Federation/Cheyenne Boone)

Team Isabelle Ladouceur of Curl Sudbury was not in playoff position on the women’s side. However, there was plenty to play for on Friday, with relegation in the World B Junior Curling Championships being a possibility. 

The team from Curl Sudbury split its final two games to finish the event with a 3-6 record and was relegated to the B division event.

In the morning, Ladouceur, vice-skip Jamie Smith, second Lauren Rajala, lead Katie Shaw, alternate Katy Lukowich, coach Steve Acorn and team leader Lori Olson-Johns defeated South Korea’s Bo Bae Kang (3-6) by a score of 10-3.

Leading 2-1, Canada scored four in the fifth end for a five-point lead and stole a single point in the sixth. South Korea scored single points in the seventh and eighth ends, and Canada ended the game in the ninth with a three-spot for the win.

In the evening, Canada lost to Japan’s Sae Yamamoto by 6-5 in an extra end. The win elevated Japan to a 6-3 record and qualified the team for playoffs. 

Canada will need to finish near the top of the standings at that event to qualify for the 2023 World Junior Curling Championships in Fussen, Germany from Feb. 23 to March 4.

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.

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