Curling Hawks earn quarter-final bye
GUELPH, Ont. — The Wilfrid Laurier men’s and women’s curling teams each earned a quarter-final bye at the Ontario University Athletics championships, going perfect in the round robin. The men’s varsity rink beat the Waterloo Warriors 4-2, while the women’s varsity squad beat the Western Mustangs 6-3 Sunday to earn the bye.
The Hawks will play the semifinals on Monday, and a victory will automatically qualify them for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship in Kelowna, British Columbia.
“I didn’t really think about it, but it’s a very nice thing to have, just knowing on Monday you win one game and you get to CI[S],” fifth-year lead Fraser Reid said. “Honestly it wasn’t really what we thought of, but we have gold on our mind so that’s where we’re going.”
“Always nice to have a little backup just in case,” he continued.
In the men’s draw, the Hawks blanked the first three ends before Laurier picked up a deuce coming into the fourth end break. The Warriors gave up two steals in the next two ends to give the Hawks a 4-0 lead, but picked up two in the seventh to cut the lead to two. Laurier ran Waterloo out of rocks in the final end to secure the victory.
It was the first time the Laurier men’s rink had to play eight ends at the bonspiel.
“I think to some extent it was also a learning experience for us about what the ice is like in the latter part of the game because recently we haven’t been there,” head coach Glenn Paulley said. “We’ve played quite a few games in only five ends.”
Reid said one of the reasons why the men feel so confident playing at OUA’s is because of their comfort with the ice this year. The ice at Guelph Curling Club has more curl and is faster, which is more like the Hawks’ home rink at the K-W Granite Club.
Against Western, the women picked up a single to start the game off and then stole three from a combination of splitting the rings on the Western skip and the skip missing her shot to take a 4-0 lead.
The two teams traded singles before Western picked up a deuce to limit Laurier’s lead to two points before the Hawks picked up a single point in the seventh end. Laurier ran Western out of rocks in the eighth end to earn their spot in the semifinals.
The Hawks finished the record with a combined 13-0 record, with both rinks going undefeated throughout the tournament thus far.
“We’re feeling excited. It was a good accomplishment for the team to get through the pool without a loss,” varsity coach Jason Rice said. “We’ve acheived our interim goals and now onto the playoffs.”
Second-year vice Brenda Holloway was happy the Hawks had a break from the evening draws so they can rest up before tomorrow’s medal games.
“It’s been a long week already so getting to relax for a couple hours is pretty nice,” Holloway said. “We’ll get a good night’s sleep and get back tomorrow morning.”
The rink also went undefeated with half of their lineup turning over this year. To compliment Chelsea Brandwood at skip and Evie Fortier at second, second-year Megan Arnold took over at lead and Holloway took over vice duties for the Hawks.
Rice said it speaks to the depth of the program to have some turnover due to the nature of eligibility but still go undefeated throughout the round robin.
“We’re fortunate that our university supports us well and we have a good development program in place to entice athletes to come to the university for academics and for curling,” he said. “It speaks highly for our program.”
The Hawks resume play tomorrow at 11 a.m. when they play the semifinal draw, with their opponent to be determined. The winners and losers of that draw play in the gold medal or bronze medal games set for 3 p.m.
You can follow along the Hawks progress on the Ontario Curling Association’s website here.