Wallingham rink finishes strong at juniors

The Whitehorse rink won four straight games to place ninth in junior men at the 2014 Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, on Friday.

Yukon’s Team Wallingham missed the medal rounds but finished with a bang.

The Whitehorse rink won four straight games to place ninth in junior men at the 2014 Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, on Friday.

“It was fun to leave on a good note like that,” said skip Joe Wallingham. “It happened like that last year too.

“After just missing the championship round, it was nice to go out on a four-game win streak.”

“The biggest thing we took away from the end of the week was that we won four straight to close out the championship,” said coach Kevin Patterson. “That was huge. To go from a 1-4 record to finish 5-4, we were pretty happy with that.”

Wallingham’s 5-4 record put the rink at the top of seeding pool that determines the draws for next year’s nationals, which every member of the Wallingham rink is eligible to compete at.

Team Wallingham, which includes third Brayden Klassen, second Spencer Wallace and lead Trygg Jensen, finished the championship with an 11-3 win over Nunavut, who placed last in 14th, on Friday.

Yukon squeaked out a 6-5 win against Newfoundland/Labrador on Thursday.

“Our best game at the event, for me, was against Newfoundland,” said Patterson. “That game meant something in terms of the seeding pool standings and they pulled it off.”

“That was probably the best game we played all week,” said Wallingham. Tied 5-5 going into the last end, “I did a draw to the four foot for the win … It kept our momentum with our win streak.”

Team Wallingham beat B.C. 6-4 on Jan. 18 to open the championships before four straight losses. They then took a 11-6 win over P.E.I. and 11-4 win over Quebec – who finished behind Yukon in 10th – in the middle of last week, just missing the championship round.

“We wanted to finish at the top of the seeding pool,” said Patterson. “After we didn’t make the championship round, we wanted to stand out as best we could. We built something we can put together for next year.”

The ninth place finish is second in a row for Yukon in junior men at the nationals. Last year Yukon’s Team Young, which included skip Mitch Young, Wallingham and Wallace, placed ninth with a matching 5-4 record, finishing with three consecutive wins.

This year’s championship was Wallingham’s second and first as a team skip.

“It was different a experience from last year, playing second with Mitch and Will (Mahoney) as the more experienced guys,” said Wallingham, 17. “It was different leading the team this year, leading them into a national event. You feel a lot of pressure, but it’s just fun to be a part of.

“The whole team played well this week. I’m proud of the guys. They came out, fought for every game and didn’t give up.”

The junior championship usually marks the end of the season, but not for Team Wallingham.

Three of the four will curl for Yukon at the Arctic Winter Games this March in Fairbanks, Alaska. Because of a conflict, Wallace will be replaced by Klassen’s little brother, Will.

Manitoba defeated New Brunswick to win gold second straight year on Sunday in Liverpool. Alberta, which beat Yukon with a close score of 8-6, took the bronze.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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