The road to the nationals is longer in Alberta than it is in the Yukon.
Whitehorse curler Thomas Scoffin is making the prolonged journey, so far unimpeded.
Scoffin and his University of Alberta Junior Golden Bears curling team qualified for the Alberta junior championships with a sharp performance at the NACA Junior Men’s and Women’s Northern Playdowns over the weekend in Edson, Alta.
“We played well as a team,” said Scoffin, the team’s skip. “It was really tough ice, so that brings the skill levels a little closer together … When one person struggled there was another to pick up for them.”
The Junior Bears went 4-1 in the triple-elimination playdown to qualify through the B pool. Only three teams from the Northern Alberta Curling Association go on to the provincial championship.
Scoffin and the Bears won 10-7 over Brayden Power’s team, ranked sixth in Alberta’s junior tour. They then lost 6-4 to Dylan Theroux, getting pushed from the A pool to the B pool.
They then won 12-9 over Corey Leach, 9-4 against Logan Mortemore, and 8-4 over Power after taking a 5-0 lead in the first two ends. Power went on to qualify out of the C pool.
“We played a game plan that we managed to make work for the ice. From there we just found a way to win,” said Scoffin. “Every facility is different. We’re pretty spoiled in the Yukon; we have good ice there. And our home club in Edmonton, the Saville, has great ice. As you travel you get used to playing on different surfaces. This weekend it was really straight ice and we found it hard to make things happen, like we usually can, with a little bit of curl.”
Alberta Junior Provincial Championships will be held January 9-13 at the Thistle Curling Club in Edmonton. Only the winning team goes on to the junior nationals in Fort McMurray, Alta., beginning at the end of January.
“We’re playing well, we’ve done well this year in all of our junior events,” said Scoffin. “We’re going to practise hard and train hard over the break, which will be good for us.”
The Yukon’s male and female teams for the junior nationals have yet to be determined. The selection process, which consists of one series of playdowns, not two, will begin Dec. 21 at the Whitehorse Curling Club.
The Junior Bears have every reason to like their chances at the provincials. The team has won two junior bonspiels so far this season.
The Junior Bears took first at the Whitney Field Junior Curling Classic in Lloydminster, Alta., at the end of October. They also won the Curlers Corner Junior Bonspiel at the Calgary Curling Club in September.
The Bears were the runner-up at the Shamrock Shotgun Cashspiel, a Men’s World Tour event, in Edmonton over Thanksgiving weekend.
The team’s roster is also impressive. Scoffin was the skip on Canada’s bronze winning team at the Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, at the start of the year. He is joined by brothers Landon and Bryce Bucholz who won the Junior World Curling Championships in March. Playing third on the team is Dylan Gousseau.
The team is currently ranked third in the Alberta Junior Curling Tour. They were ranked No. 1 early in the season but the team hasn’t competed as often as other junior teams, instead entering some men’s events.
In 2007, at the age of 12, Scoffin became the youngest curler to skip a team in the Canadian juniors. Over the six appearances, all while representing the Yukon, he registered a total of 24 wins, which puts Scoffin in fifth on the all-time wins list.
Contact Tom Patrick at