Home ice advantage comes in handy
by Randy Pascal
Given the chance to perform at home, in front of family and friends, local youth curlers did not disappoint. The U18 Atlas Slam, hosted last
weekend at the Idylwylde Golf & Country Club, would feature an all-Sudbury girls’ final, with the boys’ championship banner also remaining in the
The six team girls draw proved to extremely competitive, with three teams posting round robin records of 3-2 and the remaining troika all bunched in at
2-3. The Team Croisier quartet of Bella Croisier, Jamie Smith, Piper Croisier and Lauren Rajala rebounded from an 0-2 start, winning
three straight to earn a berth opposite Madison Fisher (Parry Sound) in one of two semi-finals.
The locals scored two in both the first and second ends, but gave up four in the third to slide their way back to square one. No matter as deuces
remained wild for Team Croisier, securing a four point advantage for the second time thanks to a pair in ends four and five, closing out an 8-4 victory.
Backing away from the competitive curling scene for the 2017-2018 season, Sydnie Stinson cobbled together a large and talented crew to round out
the girls bracket. Between work and school commitments, the skip would team up with no less than eight other players - Jessica Leonard, Kate Sherry,
Abby Deschene, Elizabeth Huska, Sophie Branconnier, Madison Villeneuve, Kate Villeneuve – finding their way to a semi-final battle with Parker Doig
Stinson and company took control early, building up a 5-1 lead after five ends and guaranteeing a Sudbury champion with a 5-2 triumph over Doig. Despite
their lack of game action this fall, Team Stinson gave the Croisier crew all they could handle in the final, leading 4-3 after six ends before succumbing
6-4 when all was said and done.
With the constant challenge of attracting southern Ontario entries to events north of Barrie, the men’s bracket also used some makeshift scheduling,
allowing the Laurentian University men’s team to round out the five rink bracket. While the Voyageurs posted a 4-0 record, they would obviously not
be allowed to move on to the gold medal encounter of a U18 bonspiel.
That would leave center stage to the Jacob Horgan foursome that includes Max Cull, Nicholas Bissonnette and Shane Robinson to
battle it out with the Erich Fenech squad from High Park Curling Club (Toronto).
After losing 6-1 to Fenech in preliminary round action, Team Horgan would turn the tables when it mattered the most, overcoming an early 2-0 deficit and
posting a 7-3 win. The teenagers were not the only local curlers competing on the weekend, as Jordan Chandler and company made their way to the
nation’s capital, site of the NAVY Fall Classic Open Bonspiel.
After being humbled 10-3 by Mark Homan of Ottawa in their opening game, Team Chandler (Sandy MacEwan, Luc Ouimet, Lee Toner) got their
ship back on course with a 6-4 win over Susan Froud (Beeton) and a 7-2 victory over Thomas Lo from Montreal.
Matched against Homan for the second time, the Sudbury Curling Club reps fared much better, despite losing 6-5, with Homan scoring two in the
eighth for the win. Closing off a very hectic three week stretch, Chandler and company are in Toronto this weekend for the Stu Sells Toronto Tankard,
part of a twenty team field that also includes the Tanner Horgan junior rink, as well as the likes of Brad Gushue and Glenn Howard.
The women’s side of the draw welcomes the Sudbury entry of Tracy Fleury, Crystal Webster, Jenna Walsh and Amanda Gates that also includes
local Kendra Lilly and the Krista McCarville rink from Thunder Bay.
Things are noticeably more quiet for the kids on Thanksgiving weekend, with the largest of the provincial tours allowing for some time off heading into
playdowns in November and through to the new year.
Closer to home, this is the time that the bulk of the local curling clubs are in the middle of, or very near starting their ice-making process for the
upcoming season. The Idylwylde got the early start, as noted above, with the Junior Slam Series coming to town, as noted icemaker Tom Leonard tackled
the challenge that is always somewhat unique for each and every facility.
“I had a little bit of knowledge, because I have put the ice in there in the past,” said Leonard, who has been named to also work both the northern and
southern Ontario men’s championships in Little Current and Huntsville respectively, as well as supplying his talent to the 2018 Women’s World Curling
Championships in North Bay in March.
“The building itself hasn’t really changed very much. They do have some issues with their floors, low spots and high spots, and those haven’t changed
over the years. It’s one of the better buildings in the city to put ice into because it’s well insulated, and having a concrete floor is always good. You
use way less water to get level with a concrete floor.”
As for his full-time gig over at the Sudbury Curling Club, Leonard is about a week away from playable ice. “We’re a couple of days away from painting,
that will probably happen over the course of this weekend, and we’ll be ready for the next weekend. It’s going to be a pretty quiet year, outside of our
normal events. We don’t have any events to host other than our traditional bonspiels.”
There is one off-ice new entry to the calendar at SCC as the club plays host to “Octoberfest 2017” on Saturday, October 21st. Coinciding with the
opening week of play in the Sudbury Industrial Curling League, the event will include some free giveaways, including take home beer steins.