Laurier men continue to dominate at curling championships

Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

KELOWNA, B.C. — In the land of the big dogs, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s curling team proved they can run with them.

Thanks to a three-win day on Monday, the Hawks improved to an overall record of 5-0 at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport curling championship, tied for first place with the Alberta Golden Bears. The Hawks beat the Dalhousie Tigers 9-3, the Victoria Vikes 7-2 and the Brock Badgers 9-4. Currently, the Hawks have outscored their opponents 46-17.

“The three-game day is always the most demanding,” head coach Glenn Paulley said. “You only have at most two hours in between games to get something to eat and get ready for the next game, so it’s a grind.”

Laurier took care of the top dog of the Atlantic University Sport conference, the previously undefeated Tigers in eight ends. After trading singles, Laurier came out with two stolen deuces in two ends to take a commanding 6-1 lead and followed that up with a triple after limiting Dalhousie to one and getting hammer back.

They then took care of the Badgers in similar fashion.

Like all games they have played, when Laurier gets the lead, they don’t relinquish it. Having outscored their opponents 46-17, 19 of those 46 points have come from stolen ends.

The only concern? Their slow starts.

The Hawks gave up a double in the first end against the Victoria Vikes before taking over in the later ends, not allowing Victoria to score at all over the eight-end draw. Paulley said in one of the games, the Hawks had the first practice. By the time the game was starting, the ice already changed.

And in Kelowna Curling Club, the ice sheets are not symmetric on both sides.

“What works on one side of the sheet does not work on the other side of the sheet and that’s both in terms of curl and in terms of speed, so that’s been a challenge for the guys to figure out actually all week,” he said. “We talked about that over dinner tonight before the Brock game and talked about making sure we were sharp and ready to play, and we came out with a much better performance in the first end.”

“Not only were we a lot sharper in line of delivery, but our weight control was much better.”

The Hawks used to play with the combination of a hair broom and two EQ lightspeed brooms, but with the moratorium on hair brooms at the Brier and Scotties, there was a ban on hair brooms from the CIS competition, as well.

This has forced the Hawks to try out alternate broom combinations — the Icepad brooms, for example. Paulley knows the Hawks are good players, but they are still learning with the new brooms.

“We’re still learning, still getting used to the ice, still learning where we have to hit stones to get exactly the right rolls,” he said. “They’re making most of them but I think it would be a different story if we were still using hair brooms because that’s what we have played with all year.”

Tuesday brings the Hawks’ toughest challenge yet as they open the early afternoon draw against the top dog of the west — skip Thomas Scoffin and the Alberta Golden Bears. A rematch of last year’s gold medal match, the two teams will battle for first place in the pool and try to remain undefeated. The Hawks also play the Waterloo Warriors in their final draw of round robin play before semifinals kick off Wednesday morning.

“With [Alberta’s] lineup change, Karsten Sturmay playing third stones, it’s a bit of a change in lineup, but they’ve managed it really well. They are shooting the lights out in Kelowna,” he said. “They’re going to be a very tough opponent, so we will have to be at our best in order to get through them.”

Draws begin at 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. eastern time. Follow Cord Sports on Twitter or check out our live blog for all curling updates.

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