by Al Cameron
January 16, 2014, LIVERPOOL, N.S. (ISN) – The M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Men’s and Women’s Curling Championships begin Saturday in Liverpool, N.S., with 14 men’s and 14 women’s teams seeking Canadian titles.
Round-robin games take place at both Queens Place Emera Centre and the Liverpool Curling Club. Once the top three teams for each gender have been determined, all playoff games will be played at Queens Place Emera Centre. The women’s final is Saturday, Jan. 25, while the men’s final is Sunday, Jan. 26. Both finals will be televised live on TSN/RDS2 at 4 p.m. AST/3 p.m. EST.
For the second consecutive year, the competition format involves all 14 Member Associations of the Canadian Curling Association (10 provinces, plus Northern Ontario, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon).
The teams have been seeded (based on last year’s results) into two seven-team pools for each gender and will first play a six-game round robin within each pool from Saturday through Tuesday. The top three teams in each pool, plus two teams with the next best won-lost records, then advance to the Championship Round for a further four-game partial round robin from Wednesday through Friday, with their earlier records carried forward.
Upon completion of the Championship Round, the top team of each gender advances to its respective final, while the second- and third-place finishers meet in a semifinal to determine the other finalist. The women’s semifinal is Saturday morning, while the men’s semifinal is Sunday morning.
Meanwhile, the six teams of each gender that don’t qualify for the Championship Round meet in a Seeding Round to determine ranking for the 2015 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors, to be staged in Corner Brook, N.L.
All members of the non-playoff teams will then compete in a Mixed Doubles competition on Saturday and Sunday.
Nova Scotia has previously hosted four Canadian junior men’s and two Canadian junior women’s championships, the most recent in Truro in 1994. The province has won only one junior men’s title, that by skip Shawn Adams in 1993 in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. This year, the host province is represented by a team from Windsor, skipped by 20-year-old Robert Mayhew.
Nova Scotia has captured three Canadian junior women’s crowns since the championship began in 1971 in Vancouver – in 1980 (skip Kay Smith in Charlottetown), 1997 (skip Meredith Doyle in Selkirk, Man.) and 2004 (skip Jill Mouzar in Victoria). Carrying the provincial colours this year is a young team from Chester, skipped by 15-year-old Mary Fay.
Overall, the field for this year’s Juniors is relatively inexperienced. However, there are two players who will be setting records. One is Yukon’s Sarah Koltun, who will be making a record eighth appearance, all as skip. Koltun has also qualified for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts next month in Montreal. It will be the first time a curler will have skipped at both the Canadian Juniors and Canadian Women’s in the same year.
Alberta second David Aho will also be making a record eighth appearance, but in addition it will mark the first time in Juniors history that a player has represented three provinces/territories. Aho played for Northwest Territories in his first six appearances, then represented Yukon last year.
This marks the ninth year of title sponsorship by M&M Meat Shops, Canada’s leading retail chain of specialty frozen foods, since beginning its association in 2006 in Thunder Bay.
The Canadian junior men’s curling championship began in 1950 in Quebec City. Alberta has won a leading 16 Canadian junior men’s titles. Saskatchewan leads with 11 women’s titles since the inaugural event in 1971 in Vancouver. The men’s and women’s championships were contested in different cities until being combined, beginning in 1987 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
Last year at Fort McMurray, Alta., British Columbia, skipped by Corryn Brown, won the women’s crown while Manitoba’s Matt Dunstone took the men’s title at Fort McMurray, Alberta.
The winners of this year’s M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors will then represent Canada at the World Juniors, Feb. 26-March 5 in Flims, Switzerland. Canada has won a leading 17 world junior men’s titles since 1975 and eight women’s crowns (one behind Scotland) since 1988. The last Canadian teams to win world junior titles were skipped by Saskatchewan’s Marliese Kasner (Miller) in 2003 in Flims, Switzerland, and by Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher in Östersund, Sweden, in 2012.
Further M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors event information, including a listing of the teams and the official draw, is available at www.curling.ca/2014juniors-en.