SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - Two P.E.I. curling rinks will take different levels of experience onto the national stage in Saskatchewan.
Tyler Smith, 20, will skip a veteran and experienced men’s rink out of the Charlottetown Curling Complex, and the Lauren Ferguson-skipped women’s team from the Cornwall Curling Club will be making its debut in the New Holland Canadian junior championships, which begin Saturday and run through to Jan. 27, in Prince Albert.
“All of these guys on my team have been to at least one (national), if not two,” said Smith, who is attending his fifth Canadian juniors and third as a skip after playing third for New Brunswick in 2018. “We all have the knowledge of what it takes to be a top three, four, five team.
“We understand how much training goes into it, how much work you have to put towards it and the amount of focus you need out there. You also need to have a good time, and you have to have that happy balance. You can’t be just focused solely on curling, you have to have that happy medium. We all understand what it takes, and hopefully we can pull it off.”
Thus, it’s safe to assume Team Smith has a pretty good understanding of what to expect.
“We are very comfortable with the environment,” added Smith, who skipped his team to a 2-3 record in the recent P.E.I. Tankard provincial men’s curling championship in Alberton. “There are usually not a whole lot of surprises there now.”
Smith’s teammates are third Ryan Abraham, 19; second Alex MacFadyen, 20, and lead Ryan Lowery, 18. Smith does not hide the fact the Robbie Doherty-coached squad has high goals.
“Our expectation is to make the championship round, which is the top four from each (seven-team) pool,” offered Smith, a truck and trailer mechanic with McQuaid’s Trucking in Charlottetown. “Our primary goal is to finish top five, and our secondary goal is to make the playoffs.
“In our opinions, (our primary goal) is not out of reach, by any means, but we still have to play well to accomplish it.”
“We understand how much training goes into it, how much work you have to put towards it and the amount of focus you need out there. You also need to have a good time, and you have to have that happy balance."
Did You Know?
- Lauren Lenentine, who previously curled out of the Cornwall Curling Club, is a member of Team Nova Scotia at the New Holland Canadian junior curling championships in Prince Albert, Sask.
- Lenentine, a first-year student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, plays third with the 2018 Canadian and world junior championship rink skipped by Kaitlyn Jones of the Halifax Curling Club.
- Lenentine joined the Jones rink as the alternate for last year’s world championship in Scotland.
- Lenentine, 18, previously skipped P.E.I. at the 2017 and 2018 national juniors.
- This year’s Canadian championships run from Jan. 19-27.
The Canadian juniors start a busy stretch for the Ferguson rink, which recently earned the right to represent P.E.I. in women’s curling at the 2019 Canada Games in February.
“We’ve had a pretty successful season so far,” said Ferguson. “We have played in quite a few tournaments around the Maritimes, and we have been pretty happy with our results so far.”
Although this will be the Ferguson rink’s first time at the junior nationals, the team members have previous experience at a Canadian championship. They posted a respectable 3-3 record at the 2018 Canadian under-18 event in St. Andrews, N.B.
“We know there will be a lot of really good teams out there,” said Ferguson, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student at Kensington Intermediate-Senior High School.
“Quite a few of the teams have been to the under-21 nationals before, so we are going to take it one game at a time and try to make some shots.”
Other members of the youthful Ferguson rink, which is in its second year playing together, are third Katie Shaw, 16; second Alexis Burris, 17, and lead Lexie Murray, 16.
“We are a younger team for the under-21 age division,” acknowledged Ferguson, who curled with Calvin Smith at the 2018 Canadian mixed doubles championship.
“The big thing for us will be going to experience it and be able to use that experience in the future and at the Canada Games. We got a taste of the national experience last year at the under-18 nationals. We are pretty excited to be going back and seeing how the two tournaments are different.”
The David Murphy-coached squad has talked about its goals for the event.
“We want to play well, make our shots and see how it goes.”
Round-robin schedule for P.E.I. teams at the Canadian junior curling championships
All times Atlantic
(Lauren Ferguson Rink)
4 p.m. – P.E.I. vs. New Brunswick.
9:30 p.m. – P.E.I. vs. Newfoundland and Labrador.
4 p.m. – P.E.I. vs. Quebec.
9 p.m. – P.E.I. vs. Saskatchewan.
9 p.m. – P.E.I. vs. Northwest Territories.
11 a.m. – P.E.I. vs. Manitoba.
(Tyler Smith Rink)
9:30 p.m. – P.E.I. vs. Quebec.
4 p.m. – P.E.I. vs. Northern Ontario.
9 p.m. – P.E.I. vs. Manitoba.
11 a.m. – P.E.I. vs. Nova Scotia.
9 p.m. – P.E.I. vs. Northwest Territories.
9 p.m. – P.E.I. vs. New Brunswick.