Lively multi-sport athletes holding their own in curling
by Randy Pascal
What the high school curling crew might lack in on-ice experience, they more than made up for in flair for the dramatic Wednesday afternoon at the
Idylwylde Golf & Country Club.
The 2017-2018 SDSSAA loop has seen an increase of no less than six teams in total, as the boys/mixed side is now home to 13 entries (vs eight last year),
while the girls bracket currently comprises eight teams, up one from the 2016-2017 campaign.
The end result is a very healthy mix of newcomers to the sport along with some very familiar faces, all working together this week to keep fans glued to
the edge of their seats. Despite fielding a roster of four to five young men being introduced to the game for the very first time, the Lively Hawks
bumped their season mark up to 2-2-1 with a 7-5 win over the College Notre-Dame Alouettes “B” team.
Darting out to a 7-0 lead after just three ends, the Hawks (Jacxsen Cress, Nick Witzke, Adam Lanktree, Kevin Lawlor) held on for the final half
of the contest, pulling a 7-5 victory out of the fire. “I’ll be honest, there were a lot of lucky shots,” suggested Lawlor, the youngest of the crew at
“But it seems like we are getting better.” While tackling his role as lead has simplified his shot selection to some extent, Lawlor acknowledged that
the key to being able to stay in the game is a gradual team comfort in understanding the proper weight that is needed, especially when it comes to throwing
a guard or a draw.
“That thing just flies across the ice,” he said. “I’m starting to get a good feel for the speed. I use a little trick. I’m usually lead, so I tend to
throw a lot of guards. I was always throwing it really heavy, which most people do, so now I try and throw it halfway down the rink, and it usually finds
its way past the hog-line.”
Still, getting a good handle on the touch that is needed was just one of the early season lessons that Lawlor and his teammates have picked up in the
opening six weeks or so. “Other than the speed, it was kind of getting used to the etiquette of the game that we had to learn,” he noted. “One that I just
learned was getting the opponent’s rock ready for them before you throw your rock.”
“And staying out of the way and being respectful on the ice. Our coach (Jana Niemi Lahnalampi) gets nitpicky when it comes to dirt on the ice and
stuff like that.” Thankfully, there would be no debris in line as Sacré Coeur skip James McVittie stepped into the hack to deliver the final
stone in a game that was tied at 6-6 (vs Notre-Dame "A” team).
Clearing the guard with four to five inches to spare but needing to settle in near full four foot for the win, McVittie came perilously close to seeing
his stone slide through the back end. “That was a little nerve-wracking, that’s when the pressure is on,” stated Griffons’ vice skip Vincent Shea.
“But I would rather have James shooting that all day long. As it came in, I kept thinking “it’s too fast, it’s too fast”, and then it just died and there
was a sense of relief.” Along with Marc-André Chabot, Shea and McVittie have formed the core of the Sacré-Coeur team since entering high school
together three years ago as grade nine freshmen.
“It’s different than grade nine, because no one really knew each other then,” suggested Shea. “I think perhaps it’s more fun now, because we know our
strengths, we know our weaknesses, and we’re out there to have fun.” That said, the Griffons’ lads vaulted their way up to third place in league standings
with the win, having captured three of their five outings to date.
“Over the years, it’s become more about friendship, getting to meet people,” said Shea. “We like to get out there, play the best game we can, and
whatever happens, happens.” The Sacré-Coeur girls team, with skip Emilie Brock at the helm, managed to make it a clean sweep for the French catholic
school with a 7-5 triumph over the Marymount Regals.
The Lasalle Lancers boys picked up their first win of the year, edging the Lockerby Vikings 7-6 in a battle of previously winless team. On
the girls side, the Vikes appear likely to be the team to beat this year, boasting a roster that includes Sydnie Stinson, Elizabeth Huska, Jessica
Leonard, Abby Deschene and Hannah Castonguay.
The rink, with several years of competitive curling experience, bounced Lasalle 10-1 on Wednesday, holding down top spot with a record of 3-0, just
ahead of both St Charles and Marymount at 2-1.
Not in action on Wednesday, the St Benedict Bears (5-1) and St Charles College Cardinals (4-1) are showing the way as the SDSSAA curlers
prepare for two more weeks of competition before breaking at Christmas, resuming play on Tuesday, January 9th (2018).