In a shootout to wrap up last weekend’s Junior Curling Bonspiel, only one curler landed a rock on the button, earning five points. But her rink didn’t need them.
The Polar Bears, one of two visiting rinks from Inuvik, took the top spot in the bonspiel with 54 points, 17 up from second-place Triple KB’s from Whitehorse.
“I was quite surprised that the Polar Bears won this tournament,” said Nick Saturnino, coach of the two visiting rinks.
“Both teams exceeded my expectations as the Polar Bears participated last year and lost all four games they played. As for the other team, I didn’t expect any wins as they are only nine years old playing against 12 year old and up. Them winning a game is definitely a boost to the kids’ confidence.”
Reversing their 0-4 record from last year to 4-0, the Bears’ closest game came against the Triple KB’s, winning 12-7. The Bears also racked up a couple of shutouts in the ‘spiel.
“They’re enjoying it, they’re putting a lot of hard work into it and they’re committed to curling competitively in the next couple years – that’s their goal,” said Saturnino. “This is more of a rewarding tournament if anything – it’s not a highly competitive tournament.”
Finishing third was the Buffalo Wings from Whitehorse. After the shootout, the Triple KB’s and the Buffalo Wings were tired 35-35 so one member from each threw one last rock. KB’s Kelsey Meger put a rock in play for two while Wings’ Nicole Gauvin missed the mark.
The other Inuvik rink, participating in their first bonspiel, was the Ice Devils who finished fourth out of the five-rink field.
“Three of them are nine, but they’re turning 10 in the next couple months,” said Saturnino. “I think by July they’ll all be 10.
“They’re fairly new teams. The girls have been curling for two years and the boys just started curling this year.”
The Polar Bears travelled to Hay River, NWT before coming to Whitehorse to compete in the NWT school championships, taking third in the B division with a 3-3 record.
“The girls have a plan,” said Saturnino. “They’ll start curling at the junior territorial (championship) next year or the year after and for the national championships and stuff like that.
“We’ve got long-term plans for both teams.”
Taking the emphasis off winning and losing, the bonspiel used a points system that awarded two points for a win, one for a tie and none for a loss, plus the points they won and the number of ends they took in each match.
“It’s a time when they’re playing to their own age or a similar age and they’re basically out there on their own with less instruction,” said Suzanne Bertrand, the co-ordinator of the bonspiel. “We tend to help a little bit, but they have a lot more responsibility for themselves.
“It’s an event to culminate the year as juniors. Some of these juniors may go into the International (Bonspiel in Whitehorse at the end of the month).”
For the visiting rinks, the bonspiel offers more than just curling in a friendly competition.
“We really like coming down here, it’s a really fun event,” said Saturnino. “It’s not too much curling and it’s just a good reward for curling all year.
“We bring them down here and they do a bunch of other stuff; they go bowling, go to the movies, do some shopping and swimming.”
Last year’s champion rink, Team Scoffin, whose players are still eligible, decided not to compete. Bertrand believes it was because of a prior commitment to an indoor soccer tournament.
“The Scoffin boys are big in soccer,” said Bertrand. “A lot of our older juniors are fundraising for the Oldtimers hockey banquet.”
1st – Polar Bears with 54 points
Karly King Simpson
2nd – Triple KBs with 37 points
3rd – Buffalo Wings with 35 points
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