Men’s curling perfect after day one of national championship

Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

KELOWNA, B.C. — The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s curling team picked up right where they left off on day one of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport curling nationals, winning both of their draws on opening day. In the 1 p.m. draw, the men dominated the University of British Columbia-Okanagan Heat 11-5 and followed up with a 10-3 win over the Saint Mary’s Huskies.

The Hawks and the Heat traded deuces, giving Laurier a 4-2 lead after the third end. After giving up a steal of two, Heat skip Justin Nillson picked up a point to cut Laurier’s lead in half. But the lead was shortlived and the Hawks soon had a commanding 8-3 lead after six ends.

The Heat continued to try to cut away at the Hawks’ lead, but Laurier put the nail in the coffin with a runback for three to take the game 11-5.

Head coach Glenn Paulley said the men didn’t play as well as he wanted them to play, but the ice in Kelowna is much tricker than what they are used to back at home.

“The sheets are very different from game to game and we had a bit of a slow start in the first game, which we just had to get used to the conditions,” he said. “The score was a little lopsided with an 11-5 win in our first game, but still we weren’t completely sharp.”

The men adapted much better in the second matchup against the Huskies. After giving up two points in the first two ends, the Hawks took five in the fourth end to take a quick three-point lead.

Momentum instantly swung. Laurier took another three score in the fifth end and then stole another point in the sixth to have a commanding 9-2 lead. Handshakes ensued as Laurier took their second game of the day 10-3.

Paulley said that the game was much closer than the score indicated, but once Laurier took the five, they become very difficult to play against — especially once they start peeling rocks.

“We took the five spot in four as a result of three zero misses from Saint Mary’s and that completely changed the game around,”

Paulley said one of the things that makes the ice tricky is that the amount the rock curls changes depending on where the rock is thrown, making shots more weight sensitive. The ice is much different than the ice the Hawks are used to playing on at home.

“On straighter ice, if you underthrow, with sweeping you can still make the shot or still make a half shot. But on this ice you’re light and you’re on the side that curls, and that’s the only turn you can throw, you have to throw the right weight or otherwise it’s lost,” he said.

Laurier faces a tall order as they play the Dalhousie Tigers first thing in the morning on Monday, followed by playing the Victoria Vikes and Brock Badgers in the afternoon and evening draws.

The Hawks were out practicing right after the game to prepare for their three-draw day today.

“I expect a battle certainly against Dal. Dal is playing really well. They’ve been involved in two really tight games today. Not quite sure about Victoria yet, I think the Vikes are struggling a little bit still with the ice conditions,” he said. “Then Brock is always tough. They were tough at their Invitational, they were tough at OUA’s, and so that should be a good game tomorrow night as our third game.”

Game times are 12 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7 p.m., eastern time. Follow @cordsports for updates or follow our live blog.

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