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MacLean, Schut rinks realize goals of winning provincial under-18 curling championships

Rachel MacLean’s rink from the Cornwall Curling Club won the 2021 P.E.I. under-18 female curling championship in Montague on Sunday with a 6-0 (won-lost) record in the three-day event. Team members are, front row, from left, Lexie Murray, third, Isabella Tatlock, second, and back row, from left, MacLean; David Murphy, coach; Hayden Ford, alternate, and lead Avery Nicholson.
Rachel MacLean’s rink from the Cornwall Curling Club won the 2021 P.E.I. under-18 female curling championship in Montague on Sunday with a 6-0 (won-lost) record in the three-day event. Team members are, front row, from left, Lexie Murray, third, Isabella Tatlock, second, and back row, from left, MacLean; David Murphy, coach; Hayden Ford, alternate, and lead Avery Nicholson. - Contributed
MONTAGUE, P.E.I. —

The Rachel MacLean and Mitchell Schut rinks realized goals of winning provincial curling championships in what has been a year of adjustments, on and off the ice.

The two teams, products of the Cornwall Curling Club’s junior program, captured the 2021 P.E.I. under-18 titles at the Montague Curling Club on Sunday.

“It feels good because we never won the under-18 title before,” said MacLean. “We have been trying for a few years, but we’ve always come second.

“It’s nice to finally get it because this is my last year for this (age category).”

The David Murphy-coached MacLean team, including third Lexie Murray, second Isabella Tatlock, lead Avery Nicholson and alternate Hayden Ford, swept all three sections of the modified triple-knockout format that resulted in no championship round required.

Team Schut, coached by Pat Quilty, completed play in the three-day event with a 6-1 record. Schut, with third Chase MacMillan, second Cruz Pineau and lead Liam Kelly, won the A and B sections.

Curl P.E.I. president Sandy Matheson presented Larry Richards with the coaching award for the 2021 P.E.I. under-18 curling championships on Sunday. Richards coaches the Sydney Carver rink from the host of the host Montague Curling Club. - Contributed
Curl P.E.I. president Sandy Matheson presented Larry Richards with the coaching award for the 2021 P.E.I. under-18 curling championships on Sunday. Richards coaches the Sydney Carver rink from the host of the host Montague Curling Club. - Contributed

Cornwall’s Brayden Snow rink, the 2020 champions, defeated Schut 7-2 in the C section final on Sunday morning. That forced a championship round, where Snow would have had to beat Schut twice to repeat.

Schut took care of business in the afternoon draw, posting a title-clinching 10-1 win in six ends.

Schut said it is “quite the accomplishment” to win the provincial championship. He said his team worked towards this event all season.

“We have played in a lot of events, but one of the biggest things we want to win is provincials because most years you get a chance to represent (your province) at nationals,” said Schut. “This year, we don’t get that chance (due to COVID-19).

“But just to say we are the best team on P.E.I. for our age group is quite the honour.”

MacLean rink

The victory was extra special for the 17-year-old MacLean, a Grade 12 student at Bluefield High School. MacLean, Tatlock, Nicholson and Quilty were members of the rink that finished runner-up to Katie Shaw in the 2020 provincials.

MacLean and her teammates were in control throughout the weekend. Along with going undefeated, they only briefly trailed three times in the six games and outscored their opponents 43-20.

MacLean, who is from New Haven, credited that success to the team’s experience and familiarity with each other.

“We were the oldest team here, and we have been trying really hard,” said MacLean, who will move up to the under-21 age category next season. “It was nice to get in control of most of our games…

“Considering we won all our games, it went well. It’s really nice to have that title.”

Team MacLean played in a competitive league in Cornwall every Tuesday night and worked hard to make the most of its available practice time due to tight schedules with COVID-19 restrictions.

Lexie Murray accepts the female sportsmanship award for the 2021 P.E.I. under-18 curling championships from Curl P.E.I. president Sandy Matheson. The presentation took place at the Montague Curling Club on Sunday. Missing from the photo is male sportsmanship recipient Isaiah Dalton.  - Contributed
Lexie Murray accepts the female sportsmanship award for the 2021 P.E.I. under-18 curling championships from Curl P.E.I. president Sandy Matheson. The presentation took place at the Montague Curling Club on Sunday. Missing from the photo is male sportsmanship recipient Isaiah Dalton. - Contributed

Adjustments for COVID-19 protocols extended to the provincial championship. Although MacLean understands the reasoning, she said it was disappointing to miss the opportunity to celebrate with their family members.

"There were no spectators (due to COVID-19 restrictions), so none of our parents got to watch or anything," said MacLean. "But we all saw them after. It was organized well considering the circumstances.”

Schut rink

This year is the second season the Schut foursome played together.

Skip Mitchell Schut and his Cornwall Curling Club rink captured the 2021 P.E.I. under-18 male curling championship in Montague on Sunday. Team Schut completed play in the three-day event with a record of 6-1 (won-lost). Members of the winning rink are, front row, from left, Chase MacMillan, third, Cruz Pineau, second, back row, from left, Schut, Pat Quilty, coach, and Liam Kelly, lead. - Contributed
Skip Mitchell Schut and his Cornwall Curling Club rink captured the 2021 P.E.I. under-18 male curling championship in Montague on Sunday. Team Schut completed play in the three-day event with a record of 6-1 (won-lost). Members of the winning rink are, front row, from left, Chase MacMillan, third, Cruz Pineau, second, back row, from left, Schut, Pat Quilty, coach, and Liam Kelly, lead. - Contributed

Schut throws third stones while MacMillan, who previously skipped, handles skip rocks. Schut said the rink experimented with different possibilities last year before settling on this lineup.

“When it comes to our skill sets and the shots we are better at making, it fits that way better,” said Schut, a Grade 12 student at Bluefield. “Chase is really good at coming up with that clutch draw when you need it, whereas I like to throw some big weight. If I can throw that big weight and open things up, and he has that draw, then he can put (it) right in there for the points to bail us out."

The Schut team put a lot of effort into preparing for the provincials. They played in a league every Tuesday in Cornwall, practised twice a week and travelled to off-Island events when the Atlantic bubble was open.

“It was good to get that exposure, but we also had to be realistic with how many tournaments we played to make sure we were extra safe so that we could continue to play here on P.E.I.,” said Schut, 17.

Overall, the Cornwall resident was pleased with his team’s performance. He said they entered the provincial championship wanting to continue doing what they have done all season.

“We came out with our best game and never looked back,” said Schut.

Jason Simmonds is The Guardian's sports reporter. He can be reached by email at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @JpsportsJason .

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