Whitehorse curler Thomas Scoffin is on his way to his seventh junior nationals. This time he will wear a different team jacket.
The 18-year-old and his University of Alberta Junior Golden Bears team won the Alberta’s Junior Provincial Championships in Edmonton on Sunday. The provincial title is the Bears’ ticket to the Canadian Junior Curling Championships early next month in Fort McMurray, Alta.
“It’s definitely exciting. Winning in that fashion is a little bit different from the way it goes down in the Yukon, but I’m really excited to be there with my team this year,” said Scoffin. “We’re definitely looking forward to it.
“This was our goal all season long, to make it to nationals, and we’ve done that. So we’re proud of ourselves and we have high hopes for the week at nationals.”
Scoffin and the Bears produced seven wins and one loss at the provincial championships.
After a bye through the semifinal, the Bears defeated Airdrie’s Team Roy, the top-ranked team on the Alberta Junior Curling Tour, 5-4 in the final.
The Scoffin rink is currently ranked second in the Alberta Junior Curling Tour.
The Bears faced Team Roy twice this season before the Alberta championships, splitting the two games.
As a skip, Scoffin has more experience at the junior nationals than any other curler. At the age of 12, Scoffin became the youngest curler to skip a team in the Canadian juniors in 2007. 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.
At last year’s nationals, his team went 7-5 to finish sixth. It was the first time in 15 years a rink from the Yukon returned with a winning record from the junior championship.
Scoffin is not the only Yukoner making a seventh trip to the Canadian championship. Both of the Yukon’s teams have curlers who have competed six previous times.
Whitehorse’s Team Koltun, who will compete in the female division, has gone every year since 2007. It will be the seventh trip for skip Sarah Koltun and third Chelsea Duncan.
Scoffin will face a couple former teammates in Fort McMurray. Team Yukon skip Mitch Young and third Will Mahoney are making their seventh run at the nationals after six appearances on Team Scoffin.
“It’s always exciting to go back to nationals,” said Scoffin. “It’s a great event. It never gets old, that’s for sure. This is my seventh time, but it’s the seventh as well for Mitch and Will from the Yukon. I’m looking forward to it and I’m assuming they are as well.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re going to go there and work hard and see what happens at the end of the week.”
Scoffin and his University of Alberta team qualified for the Alberta championships with a 4-1 record at the NACA Junior Men’s and Women’s Northern Playdowns in December.
The team’s roster is impressive. Scoffin was the skip on Canada’s bronze-winning team at the Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, a year ago. He is joined by twin brothers Landon and Bryce Bucholz who won the Junior World Curling Championships in March. Playing third on the team is Dylan Gousseau.
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 Scoffin team was also the runner-up at the Shamrock Shotgun Cashspiel, a Men’s World Tour event, in Edmonton over Thanksgiving weekend.
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