Host province British Columbia has had ample representation in Draw 1 and Draw 2 action of the 2020 New Holland Canadian Junior Championships, hosted by the Township of Langley, British Columbia.
And while both the Men’s and Women’s representatives of BC have never played in this particular event, it would be a disservice to call them rookie curlers, with several members of each team having already represented BC on a national level in an array of events.
The Royal City Curling Club’s Team British Columbia #1 of New Westminster, comprised of skip Hayato Sato, third Matthew McCrady, second Joshua Miki, lead Jacob Umbach, and coach Brent Pierce boast members with national experience; both Sato and Miki played for Dawson Ballard’s BC squadron in 2018 at the U18 Canadian Championships, as well as earning a gold medal of their own for BC at the 2019 Canada Winter Games with Sato as skip and Miki as third.
After defeating Ontario’s Owen Purdy (0-1; Kingston) 4-3 in Draw 2, they sit with a 1-0 record.
Miki, 18, feels comfortable with the BC crest on his back: “It’s amazing to represent British Columbia. Being at this event was our goal at the beginning of the season and to compete in front of the BC crowd here at home is something amazing.”
Third Matthew McCrady, 20, is harnessing the home crowd energy as well, saying “It’s a little bit of pressure playing in front of our home crowd. With our friends and family here, there’s that extra pressure to perform.”
Lead Jacob Umbach, 20, echoed McCrady’s sentiments saying “It feels amazing to wear a BC jacket. To be in front of this loud crowd is something amazing.”
Team Sato are not the only men’s British Columbia representatives at these 2020 New Holland Canadian Junior Championships. With no men’s teams submitted from Nunavut or the Yukon, British Columbia earned an additional entry as the host province.
That honour was then granted to Team Johnson Tao of the Richmond Curling Club, comprised of third Toby Mills, second Connor Kent, lead Michael Nunn, and coach Vic Shimizu as the runners up of the 2020 British Columbia Junior Provincial playdowns.
Team British Columbia 2 was downed by Newfoundland’s Daniel Bruce (1-1, St. John’s) 7-6 in their opening draw and sit at 0-1 overall.
Unlike team Sato, none of its members have ever played in a national competition other than coach Vic Shimizu, who boasts a 2018 Gold Medal at the Canadian Curling Club Championships as skip for British Columbia.
“We’re still working through some of the nerves right now” said Connor Kent, 17. “We’re really excited to be here and show the BC fans what we’ve got.”
The BC fans were abundantly present during Draw 2. Loud cheers, noise makers and plenty of BC chants filled the arena for every well executed shot.
Johnson Tao, 17, feels the crowd’s cheers motivate his play: “It’s really nice to have the support of our family and friends. It’s a really great confidence booster for us.”
The women, who were active in Draw 1, set the precedent for the men by defeating Yukon 16-2 in their opener.
Skip Kaila Buchy, third Jaelyn Cotter, second Katelyn McGillivray, lead Cassidy Schwaerzle, alternate Samantha McLaren, and coach Tom Buchy of the Kimberly Curling Club are no strangers to national events, with a combined 11 national appearances between them in U18 Championships and New Holland Juniors as well.
The team is the first to represent the Kimberly Curling Club at a Canadian National Junior event since the Diana Smith Rink in 1979.
Buchy and company will look to improve to 2-0 this evening versus Saskatchewan as Draw 3 will go ahead at 7:30 p.m. PST. Meanwhile, Curling Canada’s YouTube page will feature women’s play on sheet D; Northern Ontario (Kira Brunton 0-1; Sudbury) versus Nova Scotia (Taylour Stevens 1-0; Halifax). Watch live here.
In other Draw 2 men’s games, Northern Ontario’s Tanner Horgan (1-0; Sudbury) was a 6-4 winner over Québec’s Greg Cheal (0-2; Lennoxville). Manitoba’s Walter Brett (1-1; Winnipeg) bested Nova Scotia’s Owen Purcell (0-1; Chester) by a score of 9-4.
On the women’s side, Saskatchewan’s Ashley Thevanot (1-0; Saskatoon) prevailed over Alberta’s Abby Marks (1-1; Edmonton) by a score of 9-8. Manitoba’s Mackenzie Zacharias (1-0; Altona) defeated PEI’s Lauren Ferguson (0-1; Cornwall) 10-4. Sierra Sutherland of Ontario (1-0; Ottawa) downed the Northwest Terriories’ Tyra Bain (0-1; Inuvik) 7-5.