Whitehorse’s Thomas Scoffin has begun a new stage in his curling career and continues to be a force to be reckoned with on the sheets.
Competing with his new team, the University of Alberta’s Junior Golden Bears, Scoffin took first at the Whitney Field Junior Curling Classic over the weekend in Lloydminster, Alta.
The win for Scoffin’s team puts $2,500 in their pockets and qualifies them for the Alberta Junior Curling Tour Grand Slam in January.
Scoffin downed three Saskatchewan-based teams in the playoff rounds for the win. In the final, the Junior Golden Bears took a 7-3 win over Brady Scharback, who won silver at the 2011 Canada Winter Games.
“We did play a lot of Saskatchewan teams, which is a good measure for us to where we’re at,” said Scoffin, the team’s skip. “All three teams we played on Sunday were from Saskatchewan, and all three were good battles.
“It’s good to diversify a little bit, rather than playing Alberta teams all season long.”
Scoffin, 18, who helped win Canada a bronze at the Canada at the Youth Olympic Games in January, is not the only powerhouse on the team.
He is joined by brothers Landon and Bryce Bucholz who won the Junior World Curling Championships in March. Sunday was the brothers’ fourth consecutive time winning the bonspiel. Playing third on the team is Dylan Gosseau.
“It’s awesome to be playing with these guys. They are obviously great players, two of them being defending world champions,” said Scoffin. “We’ve clicked really well. We’ve had a lot of early success and our team chemistry has been good all along. We haven’t gone through any difficult times so far.
“It’s nice to be able to join a team like that and have early success in the province of Alberta.”
The win in Lloydminster is just the latest in a growing list of successes this season.
Team Scoffin won the Curlers Corner Junior Bonspiel at the Calgary Curling Club in September. On the men’s circuit, they were the runner-up at the Shamrock Shotgun Cashspiel in Edmonton over Thanksgiving weekend.
They opened the season with a 2-2 record at the Saville Shoot-out in Edmonton. Although Team Scoffin did not advance, they did take a win over Dave Nehohin, a three-time world champion and a four-time Brier champion.
“We just played a solid game as a team,” said Scoffin. “We were still getting to know each other, so it was good to be able to see the potential we have if we play well.”
Also competing at the Whitney Field bonspiel was the Yukon’s Team Koltun headed by skip Sarah Koltun.
The team, which includes Chelsea Duncan, Patty Wallingham, and Jenna Duncan, went 2-3 and did not qualify for the playoffs.
However, the team is probably not too down in the dumps about it, considering the success they had just the previous weekend.
Competing in their first Women’s World Curling Tour event, the Valley First Crown of Curling in Kamloops, B.C., Team Koltun went 5-2 for third place, nabbing a cheque for $4,500.
The Whitehorse-based team lost in the semifinal to former world champion and 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Wang Bingyu from China.
Both Koltun and Scoffin have a long history of doing the Yukon proud.
Koltun has competed as a skip a record six times at the Canadian Juniors Curling Championships. She has represented the Yukon at two Canada Winter Games and three Arctic Winter Games, capturing two silver and a gold in the latter.
Scoffin is the youngest curler to skip a team in the Canadian juniors at the age of 12 in 2007. Over the six appearances, his team has registered a total of 24 wins, which puts Scoffin in fifth on the all-time wins list.
At his last appearance, Scoffin was the first junior curling rink to bring back a winning record in 15 years, going 7-5 for sixth place.
He has also won a gold and two silver at the Arctic Winter Games between 2006 and 2010.
Scoffin plans to attempt another trip to the junior nationals with his university team.
“Right now my plan is to stick with these guys through the Alberta provincials and try my luck through that route,” said Scoffin.
“It’s a great program here. We have the Saville Curling Centre here and the coaches - Rob Krepps is the head coach of the university team. So we get a ton of first-class coaching.
“It’s been a smooth transition. Whitehorse was great to play out of, but now we’re playing some of Canada’s top teams pretty regularly. I’m getting a ton of experience from that. It’s a lot of fun.”
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