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Rayside-Balfour Canadians
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Monday, Nov. 20, 2017
Locals ready for first ever 18U Championships
2017-04-08
by Randy Pascal

The first ever Canadian Under 18 Boys and Girls Curling Championship, taking place from April 18th to the 22nd in Moncton (New Brunswick), will provide an opportunity for many memorable first for all those participating.

And while this might represent a seventh trip to a national championship for Jake Horgan, who celebrated his 17th birthday yesterday, it will be the first time that he does so while throwing last stones, flying out from under the wings of older brother and U21 skip, Tanner Horgan.

While the responsibilities of calling the game entail a different approach for the talented teenager, it was a far more pragmatic adjustment that the younger Horgan noted, right out of the gate. “It’s a lot colder when you’re not sweeping,” he said with a smile.

“I have to keep my jacket on most of the time. When I’m sweeping, I can rip it off right away. When you’re standing still for the whole end, your hands are pretty cold when you get back in the hack.”

Jake Horgan will head east with a team that also includes Max Cull (vice), Nick Bissonnette (second) and Shane Robinson (lead), with Sudbury also donning the Northern Ontario colours on the girls side of the draw courtesy of the rink of Kira Brunton (skip), Kate Sherry (vice), Sydnie Stinson (second) and Jessica Leonard (lead).

Horgan and Bissonnette are also teammates on the U21 junior team that has now represented the NOCA on four occasions at nationals (Bissonnette has been twice, since joining the team during the 2015-2016 campaign).

And while it is incumbent upon the skip to learn the release point and tendencies of the curlers to whom he may not be quite as accustomed, Robinson noted that the reverse holds true also, at least to a small extent.

“We have to learn how he calls a game,” said Robinson. “He might call someone’s name for directional curling or directional sweeping, or he might just yell to let it curl. We kind of have to understand the language that we’re going with. It’s really just the communication between us, but we get a grasp of that pretty quickly within our practices.”

A lead within this elite team, Robinson will serve as skip when he competes for his high school team at Collège Notre-Dame. He acknowledged that simply being part of this group cannot help but to improve his skills as a skip.

“I’ve learned to look for a lot more things when I’m playing,” he said. “You learn to identify dangers at key points in the game. You definitely improve your game overall when you play with people who have a lot more experience than you.”

Even in the case of Bissonnette, who plays second both on the U18 and the U21 squads, there will be a difference in play in terms of the type of shot-making that he will be looking at each and every end.

“At U21, I would be throwing a lot more of a mix of draws and takeouts, but at U18, there seems to be a lot of takeouts, because the game is just a little more simple,” he said. “As a second, I’m always throwing a lot of peels, no matter what, especially when you are up in the game.”

Even though the April event marks the end, or very close to it, of a very long season of curling for Bissonnette and the remainder of the Sudbury Curling Club teens, there is truthfully no place he would rather be come two weeks time.

“It’s always a good feeling to get to represent your province and go to nationals,” he stated. “Now that I have a little more experience at going to nationals, it’s not quite as much pressure.” Just like his teammates, the skip of this crew acknowledged that the benefits of being exposed to different situations, in a sport they are sure to pursue for many years to come, cannot be over-emphasized.

“Skipping at any level will make a curler better,” explained Jake Horgan. “Just the extra pressure and learning how to deal with that pressure will help any curler at any level. And learning more stuff about the ice is important.”

Thankfully, the social aspect of extended competitions does not get lost in the shuffle for these regulars of Canadian Championships, renewing acquaintances with some very familiar faces. “The entire Saskatchewan team was at junior nationals just a few months ago, and we had some pretty intense ping-pong battles out there,” said Horgan with a laugh.

“If there is a ping pong table, that would be fun to do again. I go pretty hard at ping pong.” And on the off-chance that any local curling fan be concerned that they are about to lose this quality rock thrower to a secondary sporting passion, Horgan quickly dispelled those thoughts.

“I could curl right through the summer, if there was ice,” he said. “For me, it never gets old. But I’m kind of hoping that it starts to get old for some of the other teams that we play.” No reason not to mix fun and competition, in the mind of Jake Horgan.

******************************************************************************

A few weeks back, the Coniston Curling Club was home to an elementary curling bonspiel that would see 14 teams representing seven different schools compete in a single day competition. At the end of the day, the top four finishers were:

1st - St Pierre - Mia Toner, Jesse Crozier, Emilie Glabb, Justine Toner, Alexa Cotesta
2nd – Ste Marie – Sébastien Whissell, Noah Garbutt, Preston Robert, Dylan Clark, Josée Beauchamp
3rd – St Pierre – Zoé Venne, Néomi Venne, Danica Glabb, Ava Valyear
4th – St Augustin – André Patry, Noah Portelance, Noah McCauley, Xavier Guénette, Noah Richer

Remaining schools that iced entries included Notre Dame de la Merci, Walden Public, Carl Nesbitt Public and Lively Elementary.

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