By Darren Lum
Published March 13 2018
FormerRed Hawks curler Alyssa Denyer and her partner Max Blais came withina few points of striking gold at the Ontario Winter Games from March1 to 4 in Orillia.
Denyerand Blais who curl out of the Sudbury Curl club earned their spotin the Ontario Winter Games under 21 mixed doubles going 4-0 at theprovincial qualifier in Orillia at the end of January.
TheHaliburton Highlands Secondary School alumna who is studying atLaurentian University in Sudbury admits she and her partner startedthe games slowly.
“Maxand I started off the week not quite as strong as in the qualifiersbut as we played more games got better and better we continued tomake more and more shots! We finished the round robin with a recordof 4-1 putting us in the gold medal game on unday against our fellowNorthern Ontario team!” she said in an email.
Thefinal ended 10-4 for Denyer’s opponents Jacob Horgan and KiraBrunton.
Despitethe final score the game started very well for Denyer and herpartner who led 3-0 after the second end but their opponentsresponded with three of their own to tie it up in the third. Denyer’srink got one back to tie it 4-4 at the end of the fourth end. Howevertheir opponents weren’t done scoring and finished with sevenunanswered points.
“Westarted off strong but after giving up a big end we receivedsilver” she said in an email.
Thisexperience wasn’t just for the competition. It was also specialbecause of who Alyssa was able to share the experience with.
“Notonly were both my parents there but other friends and families fromthe curling clubs in Haliburton [County] showed up throughout theweekend to cheer us on! It meant a lot to have the support of my homeclubs there with me” she wrote.
Long-timecoach Russ Duhaime who has been coaching her for several years inhigh school and club was also there.
“Itwas also wonderful to be able to experience our last chance at wintergames with Russ and I couldn’t think of a better way to close offmy competitive junior curling career than with the man whoessentially started it and has been there every step of the way evenafter I moved to Sudbury” she said.
Duhaimewas impressed with how this pair performed.“Throughout the roundrobin they maintained a very high level of play against some greatteams. The difference in most games was their consistency. Alyssa andMax were able to keep calm under pressure and wait for theiropportunity to pad their scores. They made shot after shot and justwore the other teams down” he said in an email.
Whenit came to the final Alyssa’s team started well taking threepoints from steals (two in the first and one in the second) headded.
“Theiropponents unfortunately refused to let up. Neither team missed muchbut their opponents were just a little more precise in the placementof their shots” he said of the gold medal game.
After thisgreat run to end the season Alyssa said the future is still aquestion mark as far as whether her coach will continue to be thereor not.
Asfor her mixed team she is looking to be the best in the NorthernOntario Curling Association with hopes to advance to provincials.
Duhaimeis confident in Denyer and the potential for this pairs team.
“Mixeddoubles is a relatively new twist on curling. Alyssa and Max arealready among the best [under-21] teams in the province. With a bitof practice they are capable of excellence at any level” hewrote .