Team Smith newcomers ready to take a shot
by Randy Pascal
That time of year has arrived where the elite of the curling world anxiously step on to the ice for the first time, with early season bonspiels
providing a helpful barometer of off-season progress. This litmus test becomes even more critical when the core roster of a team has undergone a major
With both Krysta Burns and Laura Masters aging out from the U21 ranks this fall, the tandem of Megan Smith and Sara Guy had
no choice but to welcome a new pair of teammates if they wished to target a season that comes anywhere close to the very memorable 2016-2017 campaign they
Keep in mind that the quartet of Burns, Smith, Guy and Masters not only claimed bronze at the Canadian Jr Curling Championships in Victoria, but
accentuated their run of success with a first ever CIS/U Sports crown in Thunder Bay, as the squad remained intact while representing the
Laurentian Voyageurs in action.
Given that these openings were undoubtedly coveted in the local ranks, it came as very little surprise that the revamped “Team Smith” features a
pair of additions with ultra impressive resumés in the form of Kira Brunton and Kate Sherry. The newcomers were part of the Sudbury Curling
Club rink that claimed gold at the inaugural Canadian U18 Curling Championships last April in Moncton.
While there will be much change with the quasi defending NOCA Junior champions, there is some stability at the helm, as coach Rodney Guy was
asked to return for another year. “I kind of thought, at this point, that I would be kind of retired,” he said with a laugh, catching up this week on the
heels of his team’s participation in the Kitchener-Waterloo Royal Slam.
Despite working alongside one half of his team for a decade or more, Guy acknowledged that the new dynamics add a twist of their own to the mix. “It’s
tough – I’m just as nervous as they are,” he said. “Through the years, with Krysta (Burns), I knew how to prepare for the season, because I knew those kids
so well. With Kira and Kate, I have to be a little more structured.”
“Strategy-wise, we’re a very similar team,” Guy added. “Those kids are way ahead of their time.” One added bonus this time around comes courtesy of the
team’s acceptance into the “Next Generation” program, allowing the local crew to work hand in hand with mentor coach Maurice Wilson. Needless
to say, the well-respected Level 3 coach who has worked with countless provincial and national caliber rinks provides a wonderful sounding board for Guy
and his foursome.
More than anything else, there is an awareness of the subtle differences that is key. “I’ve spent hours writing out notes, little things like the times
they want to hear in the hack,” explained Guy. “Kira and Kate are used to hog to hog times, where we used to do split times – little things like that. But
the first game they went out there, you would have thought they have played together for years.” The Sudbury reps posted a round robin record of 3-2,
earning a berth in the quarter-final before dropping a 7-4 decision to Marie-Elaine Little from Ottawa.
“I was impressed,” said Guy. “Clearly experience comes into play, especially with players taking on different roles – Kate going from vice to lead, Kira
stepping down to vice, allowing Megan to call the game, Megan stepping back and allowing Kira to throw last rocks. Sara is the only one who stays in
position, but it’s a different team for her too.”
“This past weekend was kind of a “get to know each other” weekend,” noted Guy. “There’s a lot of stuff we need to work on. We prioritized our bonspiels,
so to speak, for instance, with the Ottawa Super Spiel (in October) being a big one. But the long-term goal is to medal again at Junior Nationals.”
Also in action, last weekend, was the Tanner Horgan junior men’s quartet, remaining in southern Ontario to take part in the Biosteel Oakville
Fall Classic. The team of Horgan, Jacob Horgan, Nicholas Bissonnette and Maxime Blais, apparently, have had their fill of the Scottish
rink skipped by Bruce Mouat, at least in a friendly competitive sort of way.
For the second straight event, it was the team from Edinburgh that would send Horgan and company packing, this time in route to taking first
place, overall, at the event. Placing second in Pool B, the Northern lads went tooth and nail with Mouat for the third time in the past ten days, falling
just short in a 6-5 affair.
Team Horgan picked up where they left off last week, edging Steve Holdaway of Quebec 6-5 in an extra end, before being humbled 5-0 by Brady
Clark of Seattle in a game that lasted only five ends.
Scoring four times in the very first end, Horgan and company cruised to an 8-4 win over Rob Retchless in the sixth draw, closing out round robin
play with a 5-2 win over Mark Kean in a must-win outing.
The event featured another trio of Sudbury connections, of sorts, with Ian Dickie and Tyler Stewart competing together, while former OFSAA
gold medal winner Evan Lilly was part of the rink skipped by Richard Krell. Dickie and Stewart both represented Laurentian during their time
in the Great White North.
No slowing down this coming weekend, as the Megan Smith team participates in the Stu Sells Junior Bonspiel, while Team Croisier (Bella Croisier,
Jamie Smith, Lauren Rajala, Piper Croisier) open their schedule by taking part in the U18 Phoenix Slam at the Kitchener-Waterloo Granite Club.