Smith, Holland rinks begin junior curling championship on Saturday

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Island junior curling teams begin their quest for a national title on Saturday in Liverpool, N.S.

The Veronica Smith rink from the Cornwall Curling Club will be making a return trip to the Canadian juniors, while the Kyle Holland team from the Charlottetown Curling Complex will be heading to its first national junior tournament. Second Alex Sutherland played for the Tyler Smith-skipped team at last year’s nationals.

Holland opens the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championships against New Brunswick while Smith plays Manitoba. Both games are Saturday at 2 p.m.

Teams have been seeded, based on last year’s results, into two seven-team pools for each gender and will first play a six-game round robin.

The top three teams in each pool, plus two teams with the next best records, advance to the championship round Wednesday through Friday, with their earlier records carried forward.

After the championship round, the top team of each gender advances to the final, while the second- and third-place finishers meet in a semifinal.

The women’s final is Saturday, Jan. 25, while the men’s final is Sunday, Jan. 26. Both finals will be televised live on TSN at 4 p.m. Atlantic. The winners will represent Canada at the World Juniors, Feb. 26 to March 5, in Flims, Switzerland.

The 12 teams that don’t qualify for the championship round meet in a seeding round to determine ranking for the 2015 juniors in Corner Brook, N.L.

The field for this year’s championship is relatively inexperienced. However, two players will be setting records.

Yukon’s Sarah Koltun will be making a record eighth appearance, all as a skip. Koltun has also qualified for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts next month in Montreal. It will be the first time a curler will have skipped at both the Canadian juniors and Canadian women’s event in the same year.

Alberta second David Aho will also be making a record eighth appearance, but in addition it will mark the first time in juniors’ history that a player has represented three provinces/territories. Aho played for Northwest Territories in his first six appearances and represented Yukon last year.

Last year at Fort McMurray, Alta., British Columbia, skipped by Corryn Brown, won the women’s crown while Manitoba’s Matt Dunstone took the men’s title.

Organizations: Cornwall Curling Club, World Juniors

Geographic location: Manitoba, Liverpool, Yukon New Brunswick Corner Brook Montreal Alberta Northwest Territories Fort McMurray British Columbia Canada Flims Switzerland

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