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Paul Lefebvre - MP for Sudbury
A brand new team with very lofty goals
2019-09-28

For the national junior men’s curling spectrum that is represented via Scott Mitchell (Whitby), Mitchell Cortello (Halifax) and Chase Dussesoy (Winnipeg), the attraction in spending the 2019-2020 season in Sudbury is clear: a chance to curl with perennial Canadian Championship contender Jacob Horgan.

But for a brand new quartet that gathers four curlers who have never, at any point in time, curled with any of their remaining three teammates, their new temporary home in northern Ontario offers another primary benefit: relatively lengthy car rides together to travel from Sudbury to the sites of their early season bonspiels.

It’s a case of forced team bonding along the route that covers both Highway 69 North and Highway 400. Not that the lads are complaining, in the least, as Kathy Horgan (Jacob’s mother) served as chauffeur on Thursday, Team Horgan back on the road again, taking part in the Junior Toronto Stu Sells Bonspiel this weekend.

“We really didn’t need too many games to get used to playing with each other,” said Jacob, with three quarters of his team sharing this latest excursion, Dussesoy heading off early to meet his mother at the airport. “Things came together really well.”

Given the lofty expectations being heaved the way of the brand new rink, that’s a good thing.

Still, there is the inevitable feeling out process that will occur on the ice.

“Everyone has a different way of throwing the rock, and even different provinces have different ways of throwing it, just very small differences,” said Horgan. “On the east coast, typically, it’s very straight ice, so when they practice, they tend to have softer releases – so Mitch would have a much more soft release than the rest of us.”

And while this might be a newer version of the Junior Team Horgan, some things will be altered very little. “For the past six years, Tanner (Horgan) has been our skip, and I think the way I call a game is very similar to him, so that’s translated over to this team,” offered Jacob. “I think we are super conservative when we are up in the score.”

“We’re quite happy to win by just two. When the games are closer, then we’re little more aggressive.”

Likely no one on the team will likely need to be more accommodating than Mitchell Cortello. Beyond the slight reshaping of his rock release comes a switch in his place in the order, and all that this entails. “I’ve played back end all of my competitive curling career, so playing second is a bit of a switch up, but a couple of events in, I am loving it so far,” noted the eldest member of the team, at age twenty.

“Playing second, you play more hits, so I’ve got to be more consistent on hits, in general, but still also be able to play that finesse draw when you need to, in the later ends, to bury around two center guards.”

“There’s also a different style of communication being a front end player compared to a back end player,” Cortello continued. “As a back end player, you’re always asking about the speed (of the rock), but as a front end player, you’re the one keeping track of that. You need to make sure to let the skip or the mate know that it’s a little quicker on one side, or just how far out the rock is still going to move or not.”

The appeal of signing on with Team Horgan, from a curling perspective, was evident. Cortello contends, however, that this was not a single-faceted decision. “When we were at nationals with Jake, he was always making other people laugh, always trying to have a good time,” said Cortello. “That’s really what drew me to him.”

“You don’t really want to be around someone who is not interactive, and Jake’s the opposite. He loves to talk with people and be around people as well.”

While Scott Mitchell is likely to hold more on-ice conversations with Horgan, as his vice, than the balance of the crew, the Whitby native is not expecting a whole lot of back and forth, at least not from a strategic standpoint. “I feel that Jake doesn’t need as much help as other skips I have worked with,” said Mitchell, the youngest on the team at eighteen years of age.

“With my other skips, they would regularly ask for my input on what shot to play, where I feel that Jake already has a very strong feeling of strategy and what he wants to play.” In that sense, Mitchell would suggest that his versatility might well be the single most important skill-set that he can add to the mix, a reflection on the variety of roles that he has been asked to fulfill in recent years.

“I’ve played every single position for at least a year, but played vice for the most amount of years,” he said. “A vice can’t have a weak point in their game, they have to be pretty level. They can’t be really good at hits, but not so good at draws, because at vice, you face a wide variety of shots. I feel that I have a feel for hits and draws.”

With their second game in progress Friday evening, the Horgan squad were off to a nice start, blanking Matt Prenevost of Bayview 8-0 in their opening encounter. Meanwhile, Tracy Fleury and her Manitoba rink kick things off Friday night at the Colonial Square Ladies Classic in Saskatoon, facing the winner of the Penny Barker/Sherry Just match.

Kira Brunton and two time Olympic medal winner John Morris are off and running in Denver (Colorado), site of the Colorado Curling Cup Mixed Doubles event, trouncing the Utica (NY) based team of Audrey Foote and Blake Hagberg 10-3 in the opening draw.

And closing things off, the Curl Sudbury quartet of Sandy MacEwan, Dustin Montpellier, Lee Toner and Luc Ouimet were also scheduled for their first game late Friday evening, battling with Martin Ferland of Trois-Rivieres at the Moosehead Fall Open in Ottawa.

Northern Ontario AAA Hockey League