PRINCE GEORGE, B.C.
After struggling to meet potential most of the week, Yukon’s male curling team finished with a win at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George on Friday.
The Yukon rink downed Northwest Territories 8-7 to avoid a last-splace finish, ending the week 11th out of 12 teams.
“Everyone’s good, we had fun,” said skip Brayden Klassen. “We wish we could have gotten a couple more wins, but we had a couple rough patches. But we’re going out with a win, so it’s not bad.”
The Yukon team, which includes third Trygg Jensen, second Bailey Muir-Cressman and lead William Klassen – Brayden’s younger brother – twice trailed in the last-place game. After N.W.T. scored three in the second to go up 3-1, Yukon scored two in the third and fifth ends. Yukon scored three in the seventh end for an 8-6 lead.
The game wasn’t as intense and cutthroat as one might expect between two territories. There were plenty of smiles, laughs and friendly chatter between the players. The stands were empty but for two Yukon supporters.
Muir-Cressman even traded jackets with N.W.T.’s Logan Gagnier for a couple ends before officials made them switch back.
“We threw better – more relaxed,” said Brayden. “It’s the last game, we know these guys.”
The win over N.W.T. was Yukon’s second win of the week. They beat eighth place’s Alberta 7-4 on Feb. 16.
“That was our best game by far,” said Brayden.
The Klassen rink had the chance to tie for third in its pool of six, but the wheels came off in an 18-0 loss to New Brunswick last Wednesday, putting them in the bottom spot.
They then lost 8-3 to Newfoundland and 5-1 to Quebec in the crossover games before the win over N.W.T.
Manitoba, which recently had a men’s team win its second straight junior nationals title a few weeks ago, had a different team win gold on Friday. Team Manitoba claimed gold with a sizeable 10-2 win over Ontario in the final. B.C. won bronze with an 11-2 win over Saskatchewan.
Three members of the Yukon team already had major Games experience before Prince George. The Klassens and Jensen won gold at the 2014 Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks, Alaska. Jensen and Brayden played at the Junior Canadian Curling Championships three weeks ago, coming home with a 3-6 record. In both cases they were playing with skip Joe Wallingham.
The Yukon curling team of Peyton L’Henaff, Alyssa Meger, Bayly Scoffin and Karen Smallwood compete this week at the Games in the female competition.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org