2016 Canadian junior curling championships to be hosted by Stratford, Ont.

Molson Arena, part of the Stratford Rotary Complex, which will host the 2016 Canadian Junior Curling Championships.

The country’s best junior curlers will play for a national title in Stratford, Ont., when the city plays host to the 2016 Canadian Junior Men’s and Women’s Curling Championships, it was announced today by the Canadian Curling Association.

Molson Arena, part of the Stratford Rotary Complex, which will host the 2016 Canadian Junior Curling Championships.

The championships will be staged Jan. 23-31 at the Stratford Rotary Complex, a facility that features two ice surfaces — RBC Arena and Molson Arena — meaning that every game at the 2016 junior nationals will be played on arena ice for the first time in the event’s history.

“Hosting Canada’s best young curlers and their families is an amazing opportunity for Stratford,” said host committee vice-chair David St. Louis. “We have an amazing and committed group of volunteers and a host committee that is aiming to make this a first-class show, and we hope to send everyone home with some wonderful memories.”

The Stratford Rotary Complex.

The Stratford Rotary Complex.

Since the Canadian Junior Men’s and Women’s Championships were combined into a single event in 1987, it has been played in Ontario seven times — the most recent in 2012 at Napanee, Ont., where Alberta teams skipped by Brendan Bottcher (who would go on to win the world junior gold medal) and Jocelyn Peterman claimed gold medals.

“The City of Stratford is excited and proud to be hosting the 2016 Canadian Junior Curling Championships,” said Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson. “The Rotary complex is an excellent facility and when combined with our community hospitality, I am sure this event will be a huge success. We look forward to hosting in 2016.”

TSN, the official broadcaster of the CCA’s Season of Champions, will provide live and exclusive coverage across Canada of the women’s and men’s semifinals and finals.

With 14 teams in each gender (representing each of the 10 provinces in addition to Northern Ontario, the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut), the field will be split into two seven-team pools, with seeding based on win-loss records at the 2015 Canadian Juniors in Corner Brook, N.L. Teams will play a round robin within their pool, leading to a championship pool beginning on Wednesday, which will then lead to the weekend playoffs. Teams that don’t qualify for the championship pool will play a seeding pool to determine rankings for the 2017 Canadian Juniors (host site TBD). Meantime, non-playoff teams will participate in a mixed doubles competition.

The 2016 Canadian Juniors will also see the debut of a new eligibility age. At the 2014 Canadian Curling Association annual meeting, governors and Member Associations approved a new age-eligible date for junior competition, essentially adding six months — a move made to fall in line with World Curling Federation rules. Previously, Canadian juniors had to be 20 and under as of Dec. 31 of the year prior to a Canadian championship; now they have to be 20 and under as of June 30 of the previous year. Prior to this change, non-Canadian players at the World Junior Championships could be up to six months older than the eldest Canadian player.

The Canadian Junior Men’s Championship has been contested annually since its inception in 1950 in Quebec City. The first Canadian Junior Women’s Championship was played in 1971 at Vancouver.

Teams representing the Ontario Curling Association have won the Canadian Junior Men’s championship on nine occasions — the most recent when Jake Walker’s team from Kitchener prevailed in 2010 at Sorel-Tracy, Que. Ontario teams also have won three Canadian Junior Women’s titles, with Ottawa’s Rachel Homan completing the Ontario sweep in 2010 at Sorel-Tracy.

The men’s and women’s champions in Stratford will wear the Maple Leaf at the 2016 World Junior Cham

pionships (site and date TBA by the World Curling Federation.

Canada has won a leading 18 world junior men’s titles since 1975 and nine women’s crowns (tied with Scotland leads with nine) since 1988. The last Canadian teams to win world junior titles were skipped by Alberta’s Kelsey Rocque last year in Flims, Switzerland, and by Bottcher in 2012 in Östersund, Sweden.

The 2015 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors are scheduled for Jan. 24 to Feb. 1 in Corner Brook, N.L., with the winners advancing to the World Juniors, beginning Feb. 28 in Tallinn, Estonia.

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