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Team BC sets sights on championship pool

January 20, 2020

A ruckus crowd armed with cheers, chants, bells, and yells descended upon the George Preston Recreation Centre in the Township of Langley on Sunday evening for Draw 6 action of the 2020 New Holland Canadian Junior Championships.

While many of the fans have travelled from all across Canada to be in British Columbia’s lower mainland to support friends and family representing varying provinces and territories, many were BC locals who showed up to watch some of Canada’s best youth curlers take to the ice.

Needless to say, the BC fans were sent home happy by British Columbia’s Kaila Buchy and her Kimberley Curling Club rink comprised of third Jaelyn Cotter, second Katelyn McGillivray, lead Cassidy Schwaerzle, alternate Samantha McLaren and coach Tom Buchy after they defeated the Northwest Territories’ Tyanna Bain (0-3; Inuvik) by a score of 9-7

The win moves the BC women to 2-2, keeping them in the championship pool race.

The top four teams in each pool of seven qualify in to the championship pool. At the conclusion of the championship pool, the top team of each gender advances to its respective final on Sunday, Jan. 26, while the second- and third-place teams meet in a semifinal on Saturday, Jan. 25, to determine the other finalist.

“We played really well that game and we’re still in it,” said skip Kaila Buchy. “If we keep that up, we’ll have a chance at making the championship round.”

Alternate Samantha McLaren added that the home crowd motivation kept them sharp on the ice: “It’s really special because all our friends and family can come out and watch us. We definitely hear that extra cheering.”

Buchy knows the road to the championship round is a difficult round and is keeping her expectations realistic.

“That’s our first goal, if and when we can make it (to the championship round). All the teams here are excellent so it’s still anyone’s game.”

In Men’s play, British Columbia 2’s Johnson Tao (1-3; Richmond) posted their first victory over the Northwest Territories’ Sawer Kaeser (0-3; Fort Smith) by a score of 5-3.  Team Tao of the Richmond Curling Club, is comprised of third Toby Mills, second Connor Kent, lead Michael Nunn, and coach Vic Shimizu. They got the second BC spot as the runners up of the 2020 BC Junior Curling Championships.

Johnson Tao, 17, feels the crowd’s cheers motivate his play: “It’s really nice to have the support of our family and friends. It’s a really great confidence booster for us.”

Meanwhile Royal City Curling Club’s Team British Columbia #1 of New Westminster, comprised of skip Hayato Sato, third Matthew McCrady, second Joshua Miki, lead Jacob Umbach, and coach Brent Pierce sit with a 3-0 record going into a 2 p.m. draw today against Saskatchewan.

The team boasts members with national experience; both Sato and Miki played for Dawson Ballard’s BC squadron in 2018 at the U18 Canadian Championships, as well as earning a gold medal of their own for BC at the 2019 Canada Winter Games with Sato as skip and Miki as third.

Miki, 18, feels comfortable with the BC crest on his back: “It’s amazing to represent British Columbia. Being at this event was our goal at the beginning of the season and to compete in front of the BC crowd here at home is something amazing.”

Third Matthew McCrady, 20, is harnessing the home crowd energy as well, saying “It’s a little bit of pressure playing in front of our home crowd. With our friends and family here, there’s that extra pressure to perform.”

The 2020 New Holland Canadian Junior Championships resumes Monday morning with Draw 8 action at 2 p.m. PST from the Township of Langley, British Columbia.

Visit https://www.curling.ca/2020juniors/ for event info. Some games are livestreamed on https://www.youtube.com/user/ccacurling.