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Monday, Aug. 20, 2018
Team Horgan at 7-0 and targetting a direct path to the final
by Randy Pascal

The voice of experience is paying huge dividends for the Curl Sudbury junior curling quartet of Tanner Horgan, Jacob Horgan, Nicholas Bissonnette and Maxime Blais, participating in the 2018 New Holland Canadian Juniors in Shawinigan this week.

It's a voice that has reminded Horgan and his co-horts to relish the moment, perhaps more than in the past. And for a team that enters their fifth straight appearance at nationals with silver and bronze medal performances already in their pockets, that is not always an easy task.

"Last year helped a lot," said Tanner Horgan on Wednesday evening, the same day he and his team improved to 7-0 with a 6-4 win over Manitoba (J.T. Ryan). "I've learned how to not put all of my eggs in one basket."

"Last year, we kind of did that. We had made the final in 2016, so the next year, all you're thinking about is getting back to that and winning it all. It just seemed that anything less than that was a disaster. But there were a lot of good things that happened last year."

"If you look at all the little things that went well, and not really focus on the one shortcoming, then you can really enjoy the season a lot more." That appreciation for just how difficult it is to rise to the very top of the mountain in Canadian junior curling has really helped stabilize Team Northern Ontario this week.

"It doesn't seem that anyone is getting nervous or ahead of themselves," said Horgan. "Everyone is in a really good place, mentally. Not all seven games have gone smoothly. We probably shouldn't have won the Alberta game. He missed his last shot, a four to five foot double, so we're grateful to be at 7-0."

That mark included Horgan and company running the table in Pool "B", a stretch that featured a big 8-4 win over long-time rival Matt Hall on Ontario, as well as the opening game 6-5 squeaker over Karsten Sturmay of Alberta, with Horgan pulling out the victory with a steal in both the 10th and 11th ends.

The beauty of this added team maturity is that it actually has the local foursome sitting exactly where they wanted to be at this point in the week. With games against Nova Scotia (Matthew Manuel - 9:30 a.m.) and Quebec (Alek Bedard - 2:00 p.m.), both teams sporting 4-3 records, Team Horgan has a chance to pave a path directly to the championship encounter.

"If you finish first, you get a bye to the final (on Sunday)," explained Horgan. "If we win out tomorrow, we clinch first place. It would be nice to get straight through to the final, especially since last year, we didn't get through the semis. Plus you get the hammer to start the game, which is huge."

More than at any other team since a red-hot start to their season back in September, the Sudbury lads (Blais is actually a native of Smooth Rock Falls - but attends Laurentian University) are pretty much firing on all cylinders.

"Coming into this, someone would have an individually good weekend, but we couldn't get all four players going at the same time. One of the huge bonuses this week is that Nick is really peeling well, making a lot of run backs," said Horgan.

"We get up a couple on a team and he's making like five ends in a row of peels, and that's hard to do."

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