By Darren Lum
Published Feb. 27 2018
There is a lot to be proud about after this year’s performance by the Red Hawks curling teams at the Gore Mutual Provincial Curling Championships held at the Sarnia Golf and Curling Club from Feb. 15 to 17 in Sarnia.
What started with 130 school curling teams a few months ago was whittled down to competitions at the levels of zones and regional play downs which resulted in a field of 16 boys and girls teams from across the province vying for the Gore Trophy and the Gore Bowl. It’s separate but equivalent to the Ontario Federation School Athletic Assocations championship.
The girls’ team which includes skip Jessica Byers vice Mackenzie Tidey second Lena Haase and lead Chelsea Flynn finished as a championship finalist earning second.
The boys’ team which includes skip Dustyn McCready-DeBruin vice Jonas Hill second Liam Little and lead Jacob Dobson finished as semi-finalists earning fourth.
Hawks girls’ coach Hugh Nichol was impressed with both rinks from the Highlands.
“I’m really proud of them. They had a great time. The boys played well. It’s quite an accomplishment for this high school team to have a girls team finish second and a boys team finish fourth” he said.
He was very proud of his team who won their pool with three wins (9-2 over Osgoode Township High School of Metcalfe 8-5 over Parry Sound High School and then 8-2 over Paris District High School).
Overcoming adversity was a constant theme for the Hawks girls rink.
During the girls’ second game against Paris they were down 4-0 after two ends and managed to come back and win 8-5 Nichol said.
Nichol said the Hawks exhibited great resilience when they were down again losing 4-2 to Perth after the fourth end in the semi-final.
“We managed to come back and win it in the last end” he said referring to the 6-5 win.
Second place was hard fought. The girls’ final was taken by the best team on the day he said.
“It wasn’t so much we lost the championship game the other team was just a better team on that day” he said referring to the 6-3 loss to Bishop Academy.
After four ends the Hawks were leading 3-1. They couldn’t hold it against the Bishop Academy rink who was led by a first team all-star. Their opponents included a vice who was also a first team all-star that “made a couple shots I didn’t think were there. Give credit to her.”
The Hawks are a young team with Byers Tidey and Haase in Grade 10 and Flynn in Grade 9 so their future is bright. This competitive experience will be a benefit to this team Nichol said.
“You get better by experiencing pressures playing in the finals. The next time they’ll just be more comfortable because ‘we did this. We’ve been here before’” he said. “I’ve never played in a provincial championship so I cannot imagine being in the hack and realize I got to make this shot.”
Coach Dobson congratulated the teams on their achievements.
The boys advanced from pool play with a record of two wins and one loss.
Although the team lost 8-7 to Vankleek Hill Collegiate Institute to open the tournament they reeled off two wins in a row to advance from pool play. The streak started with the 8-6 win over Leamington Secondary School on Friday Feb. 16.
The next win came with a highlight for Dobson which was the McCready-DeBruin’s physics defying shot against Eastview Secondary School of Barrie.
“We had hammer in the eighth and Dustin made an extremely difficult take out sliding between two stones with barely half a centimetre on each side to win the game. His stone was like the bus in the Harry Potter movie that narrows to fit through traffic!” he wrote in an email about beating Eastview 8-6.
He loved how his team battled right to the end in the semi-final game against Fellowes High School of Pembroke.
“The semi-final against Fellowes High School of Pembroke was a one point back-and-forth game. It was tied and we had the hammer going into the eighth end but they used an advanced strategy and made a series of difficult shots and ended up stealing one to win. We learned a lot that game and came away a better team” he said referring to the 5-4 loss.
Individually the Hawks were solidly represented and recognized for their skills at this prestigious tournament with three all-star nods. The girls had two second-team all-stars in Tidey and Byers. For Byers it was her second consecutive year receiving this distinction. The boys’ skip Jacob Dobson was also named as an all-star.
Although the girls’ team won’t be competing in Kawartha for the school they did play in the under-18 Provincial Qualifier C in Midland as sanctioned by the Ontario Curling Association.
Nichol said the Gore event was great for the girls for more than just the competition.
He appreciated this provincial event for more than the athletics as it included a dinner banquet and guest speaker Stephanie LeDrew who was the third for Team Ontario from the Royal Canadian Curling Club who won this year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Team Ontario was down 0-2 to start the Scotties but reeled off six straight wins defeating Team Danielle Inglis in the final.
LeDrew offered an important lesson to the young curlers.
“She talked about you curl because you love the sport. You’re going to have setbacks and you’re going to have victories but curl because you love to curl” Nichol said.