Jacob Horgan rink adds bronze to 2017 gold
by Randy Pascal
The Curl Sudbury U-18 rink of Jacob Horgan, Max Cull, Nicholas Bissonnette and Shane Robinson knew full well just how difficult it
would be to defend the title they captured when nationals for that age bracket were played for the very first time last year.
And though there is undoubtedly disapointment in not repeating, one senses an unmistakable source of pride in reaching the podium for a second straight
year after the local lads claimed bronze Saturday afternoon in St Andrews, New Brunswick.
It certainly wasn't as though Northern Ontario was not in the mix for gold.
Undefeated through round robin play at 5-0, Team Horgan entered a double knockout playoff format as the top seed. That ranking appeared to make little
difference to skip Ryan Jacques and his Alberta rink, who handed the green and gold their first loss, 6-4, scoring two with the hammer in the eighth
and final end.
This would force Northern Ontario to battle their way back through to advance to the final four. In the Friday afternoon draw, the locals eliminated
their provincial nemesis, doubling Joshua Leung of Ontario 4-2.
Needing one more win to ensure at least an appearance in a medal game, Horgan and company went to extra ends before disposing of Manitoba (Brett
Walter) 6-5 in a back and forth affair.
On to the semi-finals where the defending Canadian U-18 champions still could not solve Jacques and his western teammates, as Alberta bested Northern
Ontario 5-2. Facing the difficult task of bouncing back off the mat, Team Horgan came through with an impressive effort, silencing Ryan McNeil Lamswood
of Newfoundland & Labrador by a final score of 4-1, with bronze medals on the line.
As for the local girls team representing Northern Ontario, playoff Friday turned out to be a tough day. The Idylwylde Golf & Country Club foursome
of Bella Croisier, Jamie Smith, Lauren Rajala and Piper Croisier suffered back to back losses, eliminated in the process in their hopes to
follow in the follow of the Kira Brunton rink that garnered gold in 2017.
Croisier and mates went to an extra end in the morning match before Skylar Ackerman took four in the ninth, outscoring the Sudbury girls 8-4.
Back at it later in that evening, Team Croisier came within a whisker of remaining alive, falling 6-5 to Ryleigh Bakker of Alberta, as Northern
Ontario rallied late to try and overcome a 6-2 deficit after five ends of play.
All was not lost, certainly, for the NOCA representatives. In addition to the fact that the team can return intact in September, anxious to earn another
trip to nationals, lead Piper Croisier was recognized with a Fair Play Award, joining skip Annkatrin Perron (Québec), vice Carly Smith
(New Brunswick) and second Chantel Hoag (Saskatchewan) on that team.
Interestingly enough, for the second straight year, the U-18 Canadian crowns were swept by the same province, as the 2018 Nova Scotia entries duplicated
the feat accomplished by the Sudbury tandem of Horgan and Brunton last spring.