By Darren Lum
Published Feb. 13 2018
The local curling community has reason to celebrate since two young rinks are heading to the Gore Mutual Provincial High School Curling Championship finals.
Both the boys’ and the girls’ Red Hawks curling teams advanced to finals by virtue of finishing first at the double knock-out format regionals on Saturday Feb. 3 at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto. The Hawks are now part of a field of 16 teams eight in the girls and and eight in the boys.
This comes after advancing from the zone qualifier (a double-knock out event) several weeks ago.
Started in 1948 this school team competition boasts being the oldest competed trophy in high school sports in Ontario.
The Hawks will be representing region two the community and their school at the Ontario School Curling Championships from Feb. 15 to 17 at the Sarnia Golf and Curling Club in Sarnia to compete for the Gore Trophy and the Gore Bowl.
The girls’ team includes skip Jessica Byers vice Mackenzie Tidey second Lena Haase and lead Chelsea Flynn.
The boys’ team includes skip Dustyn McCready-DeBruin vice Jonas Hill second Liam Little and lead Jacob Dobson. They cruised to a 10-2 win over Richview Collegiate Institute of Toronto and an 8-3 win in the final against Bishop Allen Academy of Etobicoke.
This is the third year a team from Haliburton has been to the Gore provincial final.
Former Red Hawks curler Alyssa Denyer who has recently earned a berth with her mixed curling partner Max Blais to the Ontario Winter Games won the Gore provincial championship with her rink as its skip in 2016. This will be Byers’ rink’s second trip to the GORE provincials.
Coach Hugh Nichol said the girls’ team of Grade 9s and 10s which has been together since Grade 6 will use their experience to have confidence for the coming finals.
“It’ll help them because they’ll know what to expect. They know they are competitive” he said.
After the girls dominated O’Neill Collegiate and Vocational Institute of Oshawa with a 12-2 win the team faced a deficit early in their next game against Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School of Toronto.
The team chemistry proved invaluable in this tournament when they were down 5-1 after four ends to Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School in their second game he said.
With advice from Nichol during a five minute break after the fourth end to stop worrying about the score the team reset and focused on just playing and not only found the equalizer but went on to win the game 7-6. This ability to come back was rooted in how they relaxed and believed in each other.
“Curling is a team sport where team chemistry means a lot. We were down a couple of times in games but team chemistry is good. They stay together. They stay positive and they were able to come back” Nichol said.
Byers’ rink finished the competition with a 6-4 win over Bishop Allen Academy in the final.
He adds depth for both Hawks rinks were the difference citing the depth and strength of the team’s front ends when compared to the competition.
He and the boys’ head coach Darrell Dobson credit the Haliburton Curling Club with not just providing the strong foundation for the players’ skills through its youth curling programming and for also providing practice time each week with its youth nights every Friday but also game playing experience with league play. Dobson said the club has done excellent work with the team members.
At the regional event it didn’t go unnoticed the two teams from the Highlands were the lone rural representatives. Every other team was from Toronto the Toronto area or in a community just outside.
“You guys are from Haliburton. How’s this working?” Nichol said. “I said we have a good youth program. It starts with the youth program. You got to teach the kids the basics. When I see our kids and their deliveries versus a lot of other kids. It’s night and day” he said referencing the way a rock is thrown setting up a shot.
Nichol adds “Without the support of the Haliburton Curling Club I don’t think our teams can be as competitive.”
Dobson shared similar compliments as Nichol for his boys’ team who only came together this year.
“Everyone has a really positive attitude and the team curled really well. Dustyn called strong games strategically and the entire team shot with a high degree of consistency and accuracy. They got behind in the A final and showed a lot of character and skill to come back for the win — As skip Dustyn made three remarkable shots in the fifth and sixth ends of the A final that made the difference in the game” he wrote in an email.
Earning this berth to the Gore provincials is a well-earned result by a great group and is worth celebrating Nichol said.
“Good kids. It’s quite an achievement for a small town and a small curling club” he said.