Only Four remain!

Team Manitoba #2 lead Luke Robins (left) daps up skip Jace Freeman (right) after defeating Team Manitoba #1’s Jordon McDonald 6-5 in a quarterfinal match at the 2024 New Holland Canadian Under-21 Curling Championships at Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo, Alta. (Photo, Curling Canada/ Michael Burns)

Semifinals set at 2024 New Holland Canadian Under-21 Men’s Curling Championship

Fervorous quarterfinal playoff action heated up a cold Northern Alberta atmosphere on Saturday afternoon at the 2024 New Holland Canadian Under-21 Men’s Curling Championship from the Suncor Community Leisure Centre at MacDonald Island Park in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo, Alta.  

And with it, the original field of eighteen teams has been trimmed down to four remaining semifinalists. 

Earning the first semifinal berth available on Saturday was Team Manitoba #2’s Jace Freeman (7-2; Virden), who bested Team Manitoba #1’s Jordon McDonald (7-2; Winnipeg) by a 6-5 score in nail-biting fashion.  

Team Manitoba #2 skip Jace Freeman (back) delivers to lead Luke Robins (left) and second Nick Senff (right) during the quarterfinal at the 2024 New Holland Canadian Under-21 Curling Championships (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

After Team Manitoba #1 tied the game with a clutch double run-back for a score of three in the ninth end, Freeman and his Manitoba #2 rink needed a double takeout and stick for a single to win in the 10th

It’s the first national semifinal berth for Freeman, who had lost four qualifier matches at national championships prior to the 2024 New Holland U-21s, and it was made even sweeter securing the win over his provincial rivals. 

“Couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Freeman of his breakthrough win. “We’ve been itching to get back at these guys for a couple years now in a couple of big games, so this is the biggest game we could ask for. Finally got past this quarterfinal.” 

Though momentum was firmly in the hands of McDonald and Team Manitoba #1 after the highlight-reel shot to score three in the ninth, Freeman, alongside vice-skip Ryan Ostrowsky, second Nick Sneff, lead Luke Robins and coach Graham Freeman, knew that being tied with hammer in the tenth end was a comfortable spot to be in. 

“We played the last half really well,” said Freeman. “In the ninth, (McDonald) had to make a long angle-slash and a double run-back for the three, so it’s not like we gave up an easy three there at all. Could have been a steal for us.” 

Freeman’s double takeout for the win was hand selected by Freeman himself, even though a draw for the win was also available.  

“I’d played that shot down that path like four times that game and made it every single time,” said Freeman. “I knew how to throw it there. Draw weight always gets a bit trickier at the end of the game so I was really confident I was going to make that.” 

The win sets up a semifinal showdown versus host province Team Alberta #1’s Kenan Wipf (7-1; Calgary) this evening at 7 p.m., (all times Mountain). Freeman bested Wipf in round robin action 8-3 all the way back in draw 9.  

Team Nova Scotia #1 second Owain Fisher (left) confers with skip Calan MacIsaac (right) in an 8-4 quarterfinal win over Team Newfoundland and Labrador Saturday afternoon at the 2024 New Holland Canadian Under-21 Curling Championships (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Securing the second semifinal berth available on Saturday was Team Nova Scotia #1’s Calan MacIsaac (7-2; Truro) who cruised to an 8-4 win over Team Newfoundland and Labrador’s Parker Tipple (5-4; St. John’s).  

The win marks Team Nova Scotia’s #1 seventh consecutive win after opening the 2024 New Holland U-21s on a two-game skid.  

“We’re on a streak now,” said MacIsaac. “Started off 0-2 and now seven in a row. Two more games to go, feeling pretty good now.” 

MacIsaac, alongside his Truro Curling Club rink of third Nathan Gray, second Owain Fisher, vice-skip/lead Christopher McCurdy and coach Craig Burgess, felt the slow start gave his team the motivation to right the ship. 

“We really dug deep after that second loss to Alberta #2,” MacIsaac said. “Alberta #2 kind of got all of us riled up so we had the fire in our eyes after that. We’re in a good spot.” 

The quarterfinal win sets the stage for MacIsaac to take on an undefeated Team Saskatchewan #2, skipped by Dylan Derksen (8-0; Martensville) at 7 p.m., Saturday evening. 

Though the two teams never clashed in round robin play, MacIsaac feels taking the route through the quarterfinal, and playing that extra game, gives his team the edge.  

“I think playing the quarterfinal is an advantage,” said MacIsaac. “You play at 1 p.m., then you’re right back on at 7 p.m., whereas your opponents have to wait until seven o’clock all day, so we’ll see what they bring tonight.” 

Women’s quarterfinal action will also take place at 7 p.m., from the 2024 New Holland Canadian Under-21 Curling Championships, seeing host team Alberta #2’s Grace Beaudry (6-2; Calgary) take on Team Manitoba #1’s Shaela Hayward (5-3; Carman) and Team Québec’s Jolianne Fortin (6-2; Kénogami) face off against Team Nova Scotia #2’s Cassidy Blades (6-2; Truro).  

Select games from two sheets will be broadcast live on Curling Canada’s streaming platform, Curling Canada +. Sheet C will feature a complete broadcast with commentary and sheet D will be a static overhead camera broadcast.   

For the list of teams, draw, standings and live scores, visit the event website.