The two Vernon teams got off to a roaring start Thursday afternoon in Draw 2 of the BC Junior Curling Championships at Vernon Curling Club.
Both host teams got the bye in Draw 1 and hit the ice in the afternoon against last year’s men’s and women’s champions as an immediate test of their collective resolve.
On the women’s side, Megan McGillivray rode the big end to an 11-5 thumping of reigning BC junior champ Taylor Resse-Hansen from Victoria, and on the men’s, Erik Colwell hung on to edge the reigning World Junior champs skipped by Tyler Tardi from Langley/Victoria 7-6 in 10 ends.
It was a nailbiting finish after Tardi managed to tie the game in nine with a three.
“That’s always stressful, coming down to the last rock, it’s a lot of pressure,” said an exhilarated Colwell after the game.
There was a measurement in seven for Colwell’s potential second counter but he only scored one. In eight, he made an incredible angle-raise to the button with his first and then drew around cover and to eventually steal one as Tardi tried the in-off but was a bit full.
“We were really confident going into nine and we got a bad break and we gave him a shot that we know he usually makes for three and he made it. Going into 10 we were still confident. We had the hammer in a tie game so we weren’t down on ourselves although we knew we kind of lost the opportunity.”
What started as a white-knuckle final end eased after second Ben Morin nailed the high-velocity peel.
“When Ben made his double peel in the 10th it definitely calmed me down because I knew my shot was going to be a bit easier,” Colwell confirmed.
“I rely on my teammates a lot, especially in pressure situations. They’re the ones sweeping and calling line so I need to be confident in them just as much as I need to be confident in myself.”
In the end, Colwell did not have to throw his last shot as Tardi’s attempted chip and sit sailed just wide leaving Colwell with the counter. Taking down the world champs clearly provided the host squad with a jolt of adrenaline.
“It’s huge, it gives us a lot of confidence going the rest of the week and hopefully, we can go undefeated and continue rolling from here,” Colwell said.
During the run-up to the provincials, Colwell thought there might be a home-ice advantage for both his team and Team McGillivray, but Colwell shot that down quickly.
“I think [the ice] is so different from what we play on every day, so it changed,” Colwell noted, adding the big equalizer was the rocks.
“They sharpened them and they are really lively which means they roll forever, so we really have to be throwing quiet weight,” he said.
McGillivray and Reese-Hansen shook hands in nine after McGillivray scored four to make it a somewhat anticlimactic an 11-5 final.
The standings after Day 1: