Whitehorse’s Thomas Scoffin and his University of Alberta’s Junior Golden Bears curling team came out strong to start the Wainwright Roaming Buffalo Classic over the weekend in Alberta.
The Bears won their first two games at the Men’s World Curling Tour event before getting eliminated with three straight losses.
“Coming out 2-0 at a World Curling Tour event is always a good thing for us,” said Scoffin, the team’s skip. “These are pretty high-end teams – probably some of the top teams Alberta had to offer.
“There are former world champions playing in this event. So it’s great to get some experience getting to play these top-level teams. We did learn a lot playing these guys.”
Scoffin and the Bears began by beating Saskatchewan’s Team Jacobson 5-4 and then Alberta’s Team Davidson 5-4.
The rink then lost 5-4 to Seattle’s Mark Johnson, with Johnson stealing one in the final end for the win.
“We were up a bit and they came back to win in the extra end,” said Scoffin, 18. “It was a bit of a tough loss.”
Team Johnson went on to win the event for a third time.
The Junior Bears then lost 7-1 to Alberta’s Donnelly and 5-2 to Jacobson, whom Scoffin beat to open the bonspiel. Jacobson went on to reach the quarterfinal of the event.
“We just couldn’t pull it out in the end in the early stages of the game,” said Scoffin. “It was a tough finish for us.”
Scoffin is joined by brothers Landon and Bryce Bucholz who won the Junior World Curling Championships in March. Playing third on the team is Dylan Gosseau.
At the start of the month the Junior Bears took first at the Whitney Field Junior Curling Classic in Lloydminster, Alta. The win qualifies them for the Alberta Junior Curling Tour Grand Slam in January.
They also won the Curlers Corner Junior Bonspiel at the Calgary Curling Club in September.
The team is currently ranked fourth 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.
“We’re not first anymore because other teams are playing every weekend while we’re not,” said Scoffin.
The Bears were the runner-up at the Shamrock Shotgun Cashspiel, a Men’s World Tour event, in Edmonton over Thanksgiving weekend.
They opened the season with a 2-2 record at the Saville Shoot-out, a World Tour event in Edmonton. Although the Bears did not advance, to the playoff they did take a win over Dave Nehohin, a three-time world champion and a four-time Brier champion.
Up next for Scoffin and his team is the Northern Alberta junior playdowns in the second weekend in December. The top three teams will advance to the Alberta Junior Championships, the winner of which goes to the junior nationals.
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.
Scoffin was the skip on Canada’s bronze winning team at the Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, at the start of the year.
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