The Canadian teams at the 2022 World Junior Curling Championships bounced back with some wins on Monday. After a winless debut yesterday, the teams combined for two victories during three games played in Jönköping, Sweden.
PEI’s Katie Shaw, left, and Lauren Rajala at the 2022 World Junior Curling Championships. (Photo, World Curling Federation/Cheyenne Moore)
Team Isabelle Ladouceur (1-2; Curl Sudbury) split a pair of games in women’s competition at the Jönköping Curling Club, while Team Owen Purcell (1-2; Halifax Curling Club) won its only game of the day on the men’s side.
Canadian junior men’s vice-skip Joel Krats is the first person from Newfoundland & Labrador to represent Canada at the world level in junior men’s competition in 21 years. In 2001 Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols and Mike Adam of Newfoundland would represent Canada at the world juniors and win gold. The trio would also win gold at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games alongside Russ Howard. Gushue and Nichols followed that up with four Tim Hortons Brier championships, a world men’s championship and a bronze at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
Those performances created a surge of young curlers from the province aiming to replicate those performances, and Krats was no exception.
“I’m very proud of being a Newfoundlander. I’m only one of three to come from Labrador City to play at a world juniors with Mark Nichols and Mike Adam. They have a banner up there with their names next to world champions, and I hope I can add my name to that at the end of the week.”
Team Purcell held a training camp in Newfoundland & Labrador before the world juniors, and Nichols stopped by to lend some advice and chat with the team about what to expect while representing Canada. One of the key things Krats took away from the discussions was that every team would be aiming to have its best game of the week against Canada.
That was the case on Monday with Purcell, Krats, second Adam McEachren, lead Scott Weagle, alternate Scott Mitchell, coach Anthony Purcell and team lead Jeff Hoffart taking on Italy’s Giacomo Colli (1-2). Canada pulled away with an 8-3 win in eight ends.
Italy started the game with hammer and took one in the first end. After blanking the second, Canada was forced to take one in the third.
But the Canadians hit full speed ahead by the fourth end with a steal of three. Italy’s Colli missed his first shot, putting Canada in a position to sit three. Purcell played a guard, and Italy was left with nothing but a tough in-off to try and score one. The shot was off, and Canada took a three-point lead it would not relinquish.
“I think we pretty much made all eight shots that end, which set up a tough shot for their skip, and we were able to capitalize,” Krats said.
Italy was in trouble in the fifth and had to make a long angle-raise for a score. Colli missed the line, and Canada stole a point. In the sixth, Canada tacked on another stolen single when Italy was heavy on its last stone hit attempt.
In the seventh, Italy scored a deuce and had Canada in trouble in the eighth. But a spectacular double-raise takeout on Canada’s last by Purcell gave Canada two and ended the game. The raise angles were not favourable for the Canadians, but Purcell saw the shot, and the team executed it.
“I was a little concerned because I didn’t want to run another [Italy stone] in there for a two steal, but the guys liked it, and Owen was seeing it. It was a good way to cap off a game and make a great shot like that,” Krats said.
Canada is back on the ice for two games on Tuesday. First, it takes on New Zealand’s William Becker (0-3) at 3 a.m., followed by Switzerland’s Kim Schwaller (1-2) at 1 p.m. (all times ET).
In women’s competition, Canada’s Team Ladouceur picked up its first win at the event on Monday morning against Xenia Schwaller of Switzerland (1-2) by 8-6.
Ladouceur, vice-skip Jamie Smith, second Lauren Rajala, lead Katie Shaw, alternate Katy Lukowich, coach Steve Acorn and team leader Lori Olson-Johns did not start with the hammer, but after forcing Switzerland to one in the first end, the team manufactured a three-ender in the second.
Switzerland managed to tie the game over the following two ends. First, it scored a single point in the third and stole another in the fourth. After exchanging scores of two over the next three ends, Canada pulled ahead by forcing Switzerland to one point in the eighth end, blanking the ninth, and scoring another point in the 10th.
On Monday night, Canada faced a tough test in a 12-8 loss against undefeated Evelina Barone of Latvia (3-0).
Latvian curling teams aren’t necessarily known for their prowess at international curling events, but the Latvian junior women’s curling team is putting on a stellar run at the world juniors.
Barone and her team started with the hammer and, after blanking the first, scored four in the second. In the third end, Latvia added to the lead by stealing three for a 7-0 advantage.
But Canada did find its footing. It scored two in the fourth end and crept back in with a steal of three in the fifth to only trail by two at the fifth-end break.
Latvia maintained the edge in the second half of the game with a solid start. Team Barone scored three in the sixth and then forced Canada to one. While Canada did steal two in the eighth end and narrowed the lead, Latvia pulled away with two in the ninth for a four-point lead and ran Canada out of rocks in the last end.
The Canadian women’s team aims to even its record on Tuesday and faces another tough test against Norway’s Eirin Mesloe (3-0) at 8 a.m.
The 10 teams of each gender play nine-game round-robin schedules, with the top four advancing to the semifinal playoffs on Saturday. The winners advance to the gold-medal game and losers will play in the bronze-medal game on Sunday.
World Curling TV’s Curling Channel on Recast will stream select Canadian games with either light coverage (two static cameras, no commentary) or full coverage (multi-camera with commentary). To see the streaming schedule, click here.
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For the list of teams, draw information and live scoring, visit the event website.
Click to read at Curling Canada: https://www.curling.ca/blog/2022/05/16/first-wins/