Laurier’s curlers make their mark
As Laurier gets set to host nationals in March, their curlers are shining on the provincial stage
Several Wilfrid Laurier University athletes are making their mark in the curling scene.
Fourth-year skip Aaron Squires and third-year vice Kerilynn Mathers both qualified for provincials with their respective rinks, while second-year lead Chelsea Brandwood skipped her rink to a berth in the Junior Nationals.
For Squires, the route to the Men’s Tankard was filled with many road bumps. After losing the first game in zone playdowns, his rink had to win the next two games in order to qualify for regionals.
After taking the first game he knew they had a tough match ahead of them to qualify, drawing Rob Rumfeldt’s rink, ranked 27th in the world.
Not only did his rink come out victorious, but they accomplished it shorthanded. One of his players had a midterm, so Squires had to play the game with three players.
Once he advanced to regionals, he found more challenges right away. After dropping the first game again against Villard’s rink, he was surprised to draw sixth place team Glenn Howard in the B event semifinals. Howard proved to be a huge challenge for the Squires rink.
But they kept battling on. After taking two in the first end, Squires and his teammates took control of the game. Coming into the fifth end break, Squires found himself up 3-0 against Howard.
“If you asked me before the game if I would take a tie game I would’ve said yes, or even a down one by the fifth end break, I would have said yes,” Squires said.
Squires continued his strong play and came out with a victory in the ninth end. After giving up a steal of two points, Howard decided not to play the tenth and shook hands with the Laurier skip.
”It was a pretty special moment to play somebody of that status and be able to take them down like that,” Squires said.
Squires moved on to play Villard’s rink for the fourth time this season and finally came out successful, getting a berth into the Men’s Tankard next month.
Mathers, who plays second on Team Romain, went undefeated through both playdowns in order to secure their spot in the Ontario Scotties.
“It’s always kind of a thing that you don’t want to lose early. If you lose early, then you have to win five straight in order to get out,” she said.
“We managed to get a win in our first game, so we knew we were in a pretty good position.”
For Mathers, it was huge winning that second game because then her team is guaranteed two shots to qualify, whereas if she lost the first game, she would have to take the longer route.
She noted that it’s also just as easy to be on the losing end as well.
“The teams are all such high level, so you know that obviously it’s so easy to lose both those games,” she said.
Mathers also plays two different positions: when she plays for the Laurier women’s curling team she plays vice and shoots third, but when she plays on Team Romain she shoots second.
She does find it very different going from back end to front end all the time, but she finds her positions throw similar shots and that it’s all about comfort level.
“I have a comfort level being vice on the Laurier team, I get along really well with Carly [Howard], but both of the players that are back end on Team Romain have been back end players for a long time and I’ve played second with Cheryl [Kreviazuk] at lead for years now,” she said.
After winning her provincials, second-year Chelsea Brandwood and her rink have the opportunity to represent Ontario at nationals, held in Newfoundland for the second consecutive year. After going 6-1 in round robin play, she came out victorious in the semifinals that propelled her to have a rematch in the championships against the first place rink, skipped by Molly Greenwood.
Brandwood acknowledged that both teams were coming into provincials as the heavy favourites to win the competition.
“We knew those two were the best teams. We knew it was going to be us in the final,” she said.
With the opportunity to represent Ontario on the line, Brandwood and her rink came out successful against Team Greenwood, getting a total of seven points in the fourth and fifth end to take control of the game.
A steal of two in the ninth end would seal the deal, as Brandwood beat the defending champions 11-4.
There were also four Laurier curling athletes participating in this final, as Brandwood played alongside first-year Brenda Hollaway, while third-year Evangeline Fortier and first-year Emily Watson played for Team Greenwood. According to Brandwood it was just friendly competition and each team was rooting for the other team to win.
Going into nationals, Brandwood is just looking to enjoy the experience regardless of the outcome.
“No matter what happens we have fun while we’re there, because this is almost a once in a lifetime experience to get there. Especially from Ontario because it’s such a hard pool to get out of,” she said.
Laurier will be hosting the Canadian Interuniversity Sport curling nationals in March.
This pool of talent will be looking to shine while playing on home ice on the last stop of the university circuit for the national spotlight.