Neither Yukon team at the Canadian Junior Curling Championship challenged for medals last week in Stratford, Ont., but neither left empty-handed.
Both rinks secured wins and valuable experience for next time – all eight Yukon curlers are eligible for at least one more go at the championships.
The Yukon women’s rink, Team Meger, finished with a 2-7 record and the Yukon men’s rink, Team Klassen, ended 1-8.
“It was really fun and I met a lot of new people, so that was good,” said women’s skip Alyssa Meger. “There was a lot of nerves, but I think we played pretty well as a team.”
With their two wins, Team Meger – third Emily Matthews, second Peyton L’Henaff and lead Zaria Netro – placed fifth out of six in the seeding pool ahead of N.W.T.
They posted their first win with 9-8 over Newfoundland on Jan. 26. Yukon took a 9-1 lead by the end of the sixth and narrowly held on for the win.
“Yeah, that was a pretty scary game,” said Meger. “We lost focus a little bit and got down, but then got it back the last two ends.”
Yukon then topped N.W.T. 12-6 last Wednesday. Tied 6-6, Yukon scored four in the eighth and two in the ninth to take it.
“We were super confident that game,” said Meger.
Team Meger wrapped it up with an 11-3 loss to Nunavut on Thursday. Nunavut also defeated N.W.T. on Jan. 26 for the territory’s first-ever win at the championship, ending a 32-game losing streak.
At just 15, both Meger and L’Henaff are eligible for six more junior nationals while their teammates are eligible for four.
“I think we’re going to keep going with this team, keep practicing,” said Meger. “We’re going to see how different positions work with different people, figure that out.”
After eight consecutive losses, Team Klassen claimed victory in their final game.
Skip Brayden Klassen, third Spencer Wallace, second Trygg Jensen and lead William Klassen capped their run with a decisive 11-1 win over Nunavut Thursday.
“It could have gone a lot better, that’s for sure,” said Brayden. “The past years we’ve won way more games – five-and-four the first year, three-and-six the next.
“But it was still pretty good. We gave a few teams a run – Northern Ontario, who ended up placing second. We almost beat Saskatchewan as well. We gave up a few big ends, which made the score look a lot more lopsided. Like Nova Scotia, we lost 12-6 but it was tied 6-6 going into the eighth.”
Yukon’s one win was good enough to place fourth out of six in the seeding pool, on top of Nunavut and N.W.T. (Nunavut defeated N.W.T. to end a 33-game losing streak.)
The two other territories finished with the same 1-8 record, but Yukon finished ahead by point differential.
Last week marked Brayden’s third junior nationals, but his first as a skip. He was also skip for Yukon at the 2015 Canada Winter Games with brother William and Jensen also on the team.
“It’s a bigger stage than at Canada Games. It was a lot of fun. I loved it,” said Brayden. “Hopefully we’ll do better next year. Take a good run at her. We proved we could take on some of the better teams.”
Nova Scotia took gold, B.C. silver and New Brunswick bronze on the women’s side; Manitoba gold, Northern Ontario silver and B.C. bronze on the men’s.
As has become the custom over the last few years at junior nationals, curlers not on teams heading into the weekend’s playoffs get paired up for a mixed doubles tournament.
Team Meger’s coach, Chris Meger, helped coach Nova Scotia’s Nick Zachernuk and Manitoba’s Melissa Gordon to a silver medal in the event in which higher rated players are paired with lower rated players,
“So it kind of evens things out a bit,” said Chris. “It’s lots of fun – lots of cheering.”
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