Men’s curling exceeds personal expectations

(Photo by Heather Davidson)

(Photo by Heather Davidson)

GUELPH, Ont. — According to Richard Krell, if you asked the Wilfrid Laurier men’s curling team where they’d be at the end of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championships, they would have been pretty off with their predictions.

From Feb. 13 to Feb. 17, the Hawks fought their way into first place in their pool before making it all the way to the OUA final, falling short 8-1 against the Toronto Varsity Blues.

But despite the loss, the Hawks advanced to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championship and had one of their best finishes since 2011.

“If you would have told us before OUAs that we were going to finish second, I think we would have been pretty happy with that,” laughed Krell.

“I can’t complain. Again, unfortunate finish [in the final], but that’s how it goes sometimes right? You can’t win them all.”

The Hawks made their way through the OUA semifinal and final without their skip, fourth-year Aaron Squires.

Squires fell ill before the 9:30 a.m. semifinal Monday morning, and the Hawks were forced to shake up their lineup.

Krell moved into the skip position, while Fraser Reid moved to vice, Spencer Nuttall was second and John Gabel took up the lead duties.

“We certainly had a little bit of a challenge [in the morning] when our skip went down and had a trip to the hospital. So that made us change our lineup,” head coach Gary Crossley said. “But they responded well to that and that got us to Regina and that was the primary goal.”

Laurier took a commanding win against the Carleton Ravens in the OUA semifinal to advance to the final and gain that berth.

Krell, who skips in a men’s league, took up Squires’ duties with little issue.

“It’s obviously a tough situation, but we have five very capable curlers on this team so I think no matter what lineup you throw, you’re going to get a pretty good result,” Krell said.

But a pick in the ice turned out to be Laurier’s demise, as they fell in an 8-1 loss of their own to earn the silver medal.

“It’s unfortunate to lose it on a pick, but that’s what happens. That’s curling,” Crossley said.

With an impressive end to their provincial journey, focus now shifts to the CIS championships, which aren’t until Mar. 19 in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Laurier will open the road to a CIS banner in the OUA final rematch against the Varsity Blues.

Krell believes that despite the disappointing finish, the OUA championship brings a lot of positive points heading into the CIS championship.

“[We need to] practice, get ready [and] fine-tune everything. I think we’re on the right track,” he said.

“We made a lot of shots this week and we won a lot of games. There are a lot of positives to take out of it.”

And Crossley hopes to continue that success on the national stage for his rink.

“The season’s going pretty well,” Crossley said. “We haven’t lost too many games, and we’ve only lost three games on the university tour this year. And we’re going to Regina and hopefully we play as well there as we have all season.”

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