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Brendan Rajala and team earn a trip to Fort McMurray for U21 Nationals
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The Northern Credit Union Community Centre will send a team to the 2024 New Holland Canadian Under 21 Curling Championships in Fort McMurray next month.

That said, first thing Saturday morning in New Liskeard, the smart money was likely not on the Brendan Rajala rink.

The foursome that also includes Jackson Dubinsky, Jesse Crozier and Adam Wiersema were sitting at 0-3, having dropped a pair of games to clubmate Ian Deschene (10-5 and 4-3) with a loss to host squad Kamdyn Julien (10-5) squeezed in between.

In fact, Team Rajala needed a 7-4 victory in the final round robin draw Saturday morning over the Julien Horne Granite Curling Club foursome just to force a tie-breaker later that night (and only because Deschene completed his run to 4-0 with an 8-6 win over Julien Saturday afternoon).

In the world that is a three team draw, however, a three-game winning streak at just the right time would punch the ticket for Rajala and company, recording a second straight 7-4 win over Julien in the tie-breaker and remaining on a roll with a 7-3 win over Deschene in the Sunday morning gold medal game.

With the final tied at 2-2 after five ends, Rajala would pull away for the victory thanks to a 1-3-1 run in the second half of this encounter, spelling the end of the line for Deschene and his crew of Olivier Bonin-Ducharme, Brayden Sinclair and Connor Simms.

On the women's side of the draw, the Mia Toner quartet (Britney Malette, Justine Toner, Clara Dissanayake posted a 4-2 record in round robin play, sweeping both Deanna Chilton (McIntyre CC) and Rhya Baker (Horne Granite), but losing twice to Claire Dubinksy from Kakabeka Falls.

Unlike the Rajala men's team, the Toner ladies could not quite turn the tide completely in a final winner-take-all battle with Dubinsky, coming out on the short end of an 8-7 decision.

Team Dubinsky bolted from the gates, up 4-0 after two ends before Toner and company chipped away at the lead, trailing 4-3 at the break. But deuces in both the sixth and eighth ends for the eventual NOCA champs would give them just enough room to hold off a steal of one by Toner in the tenth.

The Claire Dubinksy Northern Ontario entry is comprised of vice Rylie Paul, second Bella McCarville and lead Lily Ariganello.

Sudbury Wolves