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Quality Inn - Sudbury
Paul Lefebvre - MP for Sudbury
Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019
Curlers in prominence, once again, at annual Awards Dinner
by Randy Pascal

The notion that curlers are going to be celebrated at the annual Greater Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame & Awards Dinner has become one of the safer bets of the night, in recent years, at the mid-June gathering of top local athletes, both current and long-since retired.

The 2018 edition was not about to break this trend.

To be honest, it was a given that a Curl Sudbury rink would emerge as the recipients of the Sheridan Family Team of the Year award, given that both sets of finalists were members of the former Sudbury Curling Club.

And it was only fitting that Team Brunton (Kira Brunton, Kate Sherry, Sydnie Stinson, Jessica Leonard) and Team Horgan (Jacob Horgan, Max Cull, Nicholas Bissonette, Shane Robinson) would share the honours, given that both teams returned from the inaugural Canadian U18 Curling Championships in Moncton as gold medal winners.

"It's kind of surreal to think that we won the national championship," noted Cull. "That's what we worked towards for years. To actually achieve it was amazing." Looking back on the bonspiel that took place in April 2017, the St Charles College senior admitted that there was a certain amount of confidence that was present, even prior to the opening draw in New Brunswick.

"Playing against each other and with each other for so many years, we knew that together, we were going to be a strong team," said Cull. "We just kind of slid into our positions really nicely. We never said that we were definitely going to win, but I think in the back of our minds, we knew we had a good chance."

That said, the level of competition that lies in waiting at a coast to coast championship is an impressive one, one which threatened to leave the Northern Ontario lads outside of the playoff picture, looking in.

"We were in a sudden death game in our last round robin game and we were playing the vice and skip from the U21 national championship team," recalled Horgan. "We absolutely had to beat them. We came out and played amazing, ended up winning, and that was a huge feat."

"We played them again in the semi-finals, but that early win gave us so much confidence going into the playoffs - we were ready." And as they prepare themselves for the natural step up the ladder of progress that is the men's open field in Canada, Horgan suggested that any success accumulated in the U18 (bantam) and U21 (junior) ranks will prove helpful, at some point in the future.

"In my opinion, a long ways down the road, you're going to be playing against the same people," he said. "We all just get older and we play a lot of the same people."

It wasn't just club curlers that were being feted on Wednesday, however.

The Lockerby Composite Vikings girls curling team of Sydnie Stinson (skip), Jessica Leonard (vice), Abby Deschenes (second) and Elizabeth Huska (lead) were recognized as the Dr Fred W Sheridan High School Team of the Year after returning home with gold from the 2018 OFSAA Curling Championships in April.

"We definitely thought that we were capable of winning cities," suggested Huska, one of three members of the team who completes her secondary school years at Lockerby later this month. "We had a good feeling about NOSSA, but with OFSAA, you never really know."

"There's a bunch of teams from all over and a lot of competitive bantam teams that are there." Walking away with the banner would require key contributions from all four members of the Vikings' rink, even if perhaps the curling uninitiated might not realize the importance of the front end positions.

"The lead is important because you set up the whole end," explained Huska. "If you miss your first two shots, the skip has to change the whole game plan for the entire end."

This marked the third OFSAA championship for a Lockerby rink in the past decade or so, with foursomes skipped by Tanner Horgan (2015) and Evan Lilly (2007) having turned the trick as well.

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