St Pierre and Churchill at the head of the class, curling-wise
by Randy Pascal
If the recent Rainbow Country Elementary School Bonspiel teaches us anything, it’s simply that the future of youth curling in Sudbury is in very
Throw-in the re-introduction of a local league for this age bracket, kicking off this weekend at the Idylwylde Golf & Country Club under the
watchful eye of long-time coach Alan Arkilander, and one could suggest that it’s a pretty safe bet that us media types with be writing about local
entries at national championships for some time to come yet.
The Ecole St-Pierre quintet of Mia Toner (vice), Jesse Crozier (vice), Emilie Glabb (second), Justine Toner (lead)
and Danika Glabb (fifth) will enjoy the opportunity to defend the title this captured this past Saturday, with the entire team in grade seven or
The Minnow Lake crew downed Churchill Public School (Brendan Rajala, Brandon Radey, Emma Silviski, Nathan Radey) in the Sunday afternoon
final, with the top eight entries from a field of 24 teams making their way through to the day three playoff round.
Eliminated in semi-final action were Ecole Ste-Marie from Azilda (Valerie Ouimet, Brandon Cormier, Chloe Brideau, Matthew Patay, Emilie
Ducas) and the St Benedict Bears (Tyler Smith, Carson Nelder, Patrick Milner, Duncan Smith), with Marymount #1 and #2, as well as
Algonquin Public and the St Charles Cardinals falling in quarter-final play.
Familiarity was certainly on the side of the winning rink, a group that has curled together for roughly five years now at the Sudbury Curling Club
(now Curl Sudbury), and was making their third appearance at the January event.
That chemistry is evidenced in the knowledge that the skip enjoys as she assesses the potential shot options for each of her team members, each one
equipped with a slightly different set of skills. “Mia now knows the ice to give each of us, personally,” noted her younger sister Justine, an 11 year old
grade six student who gives up a year to the remaining starting trio.
“I like draws,” she continued. “I like the out-turn, and I like having it in the four foot. When I get into the hack, I flip the rock and turn it in the
direction of the out-turn, so I get used to it. I like the in-turn too, but I prefer the out-turn.”
Spending ample time together on the ice has also allowed the championship squad to understand the best approach needed, in terms of general atmosphere
that sets the stage for team success. “Something we started doing more on the ice this weekend was loosening up, joking around and having fun,” noted
“I think that helps us concentrate and know that if we make a bad shot, that’s OK. We have the whole game to make up for it.” Given the mix of quasi
regular curlers with relative newcomers to the sport at this particular bonspiel, the opportunities exist for those with greater experience to share their
knowledge with others, even as they compete head to head.
“We knew that there were some kids that didn’t curl regularly,” said Glabb. “There were some little differences in how they shot and how they came out
of the hack. We helped them out a little bit. In curling, you’re supposed to be nice with the other team.”
The only male representative of the gold medal winning group, Crozier works hand in hand constantly with skip Toner, understanding the key components of
his role as a vice. “I need to be on my sweeping, for sure, and I need to be good at listening,” he conceded. “I need to listen to her (Mia) to make sure I
call a good shot, and make some good shots.”
Crozier is equally as conscious, once in delivery mode, of his own unique mannerisms, the individual challenges that he faces in order to properly
execute his shot. “The weight is tough for me,” he said. “I push off the hack really hard, and most of the time, I overshoot my rock. I try and keep it on
the down-low, but sometimes it’s hard to do.”
The product of a curling family, with a father who coaches the team and has attended the Brier (Lee Toner), Mia is extremely appreciative of the
curling acumen at her immediate disposal. “He’s very knowledgeable about curling,” she said. “He’s very good at “come arounds”, and getting the draw weight
really good. He’s a lead, so that’s one of his jobs.”
No surprise then that she is quickly picking up the finer nuances of this Canadian wintertime passion. “It’s important to have good weight and good
line,” she explained. “If I give one of my player’s a line that I think is good for them and they don’t throw the proper weight, then the line isn’t going
to be any good.”
Yet another product of a family curling environment, Churchill skip Brendan Rajala admitted that it was necessary to take an approach in calling the
game that differed from the one that would be used when he vices for club skip Tyler Smith.
“In school curling, I didn’t call many guards, which is kind of aggressive,” he said. “We tried lots of takeouts in our first game and it ended in a
draw. So then I called lots of draws and we did well.”
Thankfully, even the players who formed part of the teams that did not crack the top eight still came away smiling, having improved, all while enjoying
the experience. “We lost our first game very badly, but then we lost our second game by two, so that’s not bad, and the other team was really nice,” noted
Churchill #2 skip Logan Therrien, back on the ice this past Wednesday in the elementary league that is run by Sandy MacEwan, accomplished
curler and teacher at her school.
“Our third game was really competitive. We started to know how much weight to put on the rock.” That’s something that the Tanner Horgan rink has
virtually nailed this week in Shawinigan, earning a berth in the championship final of the Canadian Junior Championships by winning eight of their
first nine games. After returning home with silver medals in 2016 and bronze one year ago, the rink of Horgan, Jacob Horgan (vice), Nicholas
Bissonnette (second) and Maxime Blais (lead) would dearly love to round out a complete set of hardware come Sunday.
“I think we’re a lot more confident,” said Jacob Horgan. “When it comes down to it, we’ve beaten pretty much every team that we can be tied with. This gives us a
lot of confidence. Come Sunday, we’re probably going to be playing a team that we’ve beaten before. Against two of those teams, Tanner did not even have to
throw his final stone.”
The championship encounter, in the men’s draw, is set for 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, with the contest being broadcast on TSN.