Yukon’s Team Koltun is on track to its best-ever finish at the Canadian Junior Curling Championships this week in Fort McMurray, Alta.
“It’s looking that way now,” said skip Sarah Koltun. “We’ve been playing pretty well so far this week. We’ve managed to get those four wins, which is a good way to start. But there’s still four more games to come (in round-robin play) and anything can happen.”
The Yukon rink, which includes third Chelsea Duncan, second Patty Wallingham and lead Jenna Duncan, currently has a 4-2 record and is in fourth. The team finished second in its pool, advancing into the top group of teams – the championship round – and is guaranteed at least an eighth place finish.
Team Koltun, which is making its seventh consecutive appearance at the junior nationals, has had a series of hard-fought games. An extra end decided their last three.
After defeating New Brunswick 6-5 with one in the 10th end for the win, Koltun beat Alberta 10-7 and Newfoundland 7-5, both in the 11th end.
The team then took an 8-6 loss to Saskatchewan in the 11th end Tuesday evening.
“We’re a little upset with how this last game went because we had a shot to win it in the 10th and I didn’t quite make it,” said Koltun. “It’s tough to take, but we’re going to keep our heads held high and move forward.”
Yukon’s junior females opened the championship with a 20-0 thwacking over Nunavut before a 10-7 loss to B.C.
“The good thing is we’re on the winning end of those close games, most times,” said coach Lindsay Moldowan. “But it’s been a bit of a battle so far.
“I’d say we have a lot of work to do to keep going the way that we’re going. We’re definitely happy with coming out second place in our pool.”
In 2011 Team Koltun went 6-6 to finish seventh for their best result. At the time, that was the strongest finish for the Yukon since 1999.
Yukon’s Team Young has a 2-4 record and has been pushed to the bottom round – the seeding round – going into the second half of the boys championships.
“We’re playing really well. We’re doing better than I thought we would,” said skip Mitch Young. “We’ve been close in most games and we played really hard against Thomas (Scoffin) and brought it to the last end. Everyone has been playing well – just little things have been getting the better of us.”
Team Young, which includes third Will Mahoney, second Joe Wallingham, and lead Spencer Wallace, opened with a 7-3 win over P.E.I. on Saturday and beat Nunavut 7-2 on Monday. They have lost to Ontario, B.C., Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Their closest game, in terms of points, was the 6-4 loss to Team Alberta, headed by former Yukon teammate Thomas Scoffin of Whitehorse.
“It was just a good time,” said Young. “I know Spencer and Joe wanted to beat him. I just wanted to go out there and have a good game against him.
“We didn’t give him an easy ride. We made him play the game.”
This week is Young and Mahoney’s seventh time competing at the junior nationals. Their first six trips were as members of Thomas Scoffin’s rink before he joined the University of Alberta Junior Golden Bears.
Alberta’s Team Scoffin currently has a 5-1 record and is tied for first.
Scoffin was the skip on Canada’s bronze-winning team at the Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, in January of last year. He is joined on the Bears by brothers Landon and Bryce Bucholz, who won the Junior World Curling Championships last March.
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