The TVRA South East boys curling finals, played Wednesday, Feb. 26 at the Tillsonburg Curling Club, did not automatically mean ‘home ice advantage’ for the host Glendale HS Gemini team.
“We would have (had the advantage) if they hadn’t played before us,” explained Glendale skip Jayden King (skip), who with vice Liam Fletcher, second Caleb Carson, lead Ben Peever and alternate lead Joel Carson won the South East division boys curling championship with an 11-3 win over Aylmer East Elgin.
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“East Elgin had their game before us,” said King, noting Parkside and East Elgin had played a morning semifinal. East Elgin swept into the afternoon finals with a 12-2 win.
“So they probably had a little bit more an advantage than we did. We know what the ice is usually like, but they knew what it was like today.”
“That was an advantage last year because we had to forfeit the one game last year,” said Glendale curling coach Ken Patterson. “We played the 2-3 game, got used to the ice, and that was big.”
If you knew you were going to win the 2nd vs 3rd game, King nodded, it’s a game you always want to play. Last year Glendale went on to play at the high school provincial championships and only missed OFSAA playoffs “by four inches,” said King. “A chip on a guard… we were 2-3, which wasn’t bad.”
“Which still put as one of the best teams in the entire province,” said Fletcher.
“Probably in the Top 10 in the province last year,” Patterson agreed. “They played well.”
“We were solid,” King nodded.
Each player handles pressure differently, and the Gemini have an ace in their skip who is currently playing for three teams (Tillsonburg, London and a Kingston tournament team) and has experience at two provincial championships – and another a third coming up.
“Two in men’s and the one left is (Junior) mixed,” said King.
“Jayden’s got a lot of experience and confidence,” said Patterson.
“He’s extremely confident,” said Fletcher. “The amount of curling that this guy does…”
“A lot of practice,” King smiled. “Lots of practice – I throw a lot of rocks.”
SOUTH EAST FINAL
The combined five Gemini players, with leads each playing four ends, came up big against East Elgin, quickly picking up the on-ice pace.
“We played really well, probably our best game as a team all year,” said King.
“Yeah, I agree,” Fletcher nodded.
“We had draw weight right from the top of the lineup, right through,” said King. “We were managing our rocks well. Sweeping was good.”
“We all brought each other out – this was our best game of the season,” Fletcher agreed.
“We knew it would take a team today and that’s what we had,” said King.
With two rookies on the Gemini squad, Patterson said the team has improved since its Nov. 20 season opener, a 9-2 win over Ingersoll.
“We definitely improved,” said King. “Joel and Caleb haven’t curled before this year.”
On Wednesday, the Gemini scored one in the first end, brought out the measuring stick to steal two in the second, stole two more in the third and a single in the fourth, before giving up one to East Elgin in the fifth end. East Elgin stole two in the sixth, but Glendale sealed it with a four-point seventh. Tillsonburg locked up the 11-3 victory with a pair in the eighth.
Leading 3-0, and in control, the third end was an important one for the Gemini, said Fletcher, when they denied East Elgin a point and scored two for ‘yellow.’
“The third end would have changed it…” Patterson agreed.
“Yeah, the third end was a key moment – they had opportunities, but when we had ours we took advantage,” said King. “Stealing two in three was big, and I think getting the (four) to put it away in seven was another big one.”
Wednesday’s win advances Glendale to the WOSSAA Curling Championships in Woodstock on Tuesday, March 10, where the four men’s teams will play morning semifinals. Winners advance to afternoon finals. One team will move on to OFSAA in Uxbridge, March 25-28.
“We play the London school first (at WOSSAA),” said King. “We’ll have to play well. Our division and London are the toughest divisions.”
“We’ll have to work on some things,” said Patterson, looking forward to a two-week break before WOSSAA.
Glendale has only played at the Woodstock Curling Club once this season, a 16-1 victory over Woodstock Collegiate Institute, Woodstock’s only South East division team, on Jan. 16.
“Jayden and I have played in Woodstock plenty of times… and Ben knows Woodstock pretty well as well,” said Fletcher. “Two or three games last year.”
“It’s an adjustment from here, but it’ll be fine,” said King.
Glendale, undefeated in the South East season leading up to playoffs, had advanced through the quarter finals defeating St. Thomas Parkside 10-4 in Aylmer on Feb. 19.