ESQUIMALT, B.C. — Fort St. John native Sterling Middleton is going to be playing in his first Canadian Junior Curling Championship final on Sunday.
Middleton and the rest of his team, comprised of Nicholas Meister, and brothers Jordan and skip Tyler Tardi, clinched their ticket to the championship game last night, when they beat Team P.E.I.
Prince Edward Island’s rink, skipped by Tyler Smith started last night’s game with the hammer, but Team B.C. stole a point in both the first and second ends. After Smith’s team scored a single in the third, Team Tardi scored back-to-back three-enders in the fourth and fifth ends. Though P.E.I. had two single-points ends in a row, Team Tardi grabbed another point at the end of the eighth end, it which point Smith conceded the game, a 9-3 win by B.C.
The victory improved B.C.’s record in the championship round to a perfect 6-0, 7-1 overall. The win also clinched first place in the round robin and earned them a bye directly to Sunday’s gold-medal game at 2:30 p.m. MST.
“As long as we earn the right (colour), I’m OK with it,” said Tardi, whose team is aiming to improve on the bronze medal it won at the 2016 Canadian Juniors. “Ever since the championship round started, we’ve been kicking it into second gear. And now, it’s just playing the waiting game.”
While B.C.’s playoff fate is secure, the identity of the two combatants in Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. semifinal won’t be known until later today.
Manitoba’s JT Ryan still had first-place aspirations going into Thursday night’s draw but suffered his second loss of the championship round, bowing 6-5 to Ontario’s Matthew Hall, after Hall coolly drew to the four-foot for the win in the 10th end, looking at two Manitoba counters.
That left Manitoba, Ontario and Northern Ontario’s Tanner Horgan (Copper Cliff) all with 4-2 records in the championship round, while Nova Scotia’s Matthew Manuel (Halifax) is still in the hunt for a tiebreaker berth with a 3-3 record.
Manitoba finishes up Friday at 9 a.m. against B.C., while Ontario takes on P.E.I.’s Tyler Smith (1-5; Charlottetown) and Northern Ontario is up against New Brunswick’s Liam Marin (1-5; Saint John).
Tardi, meanwhile, can use the game against Manitoba — which features, the Tardis’ cousin Jacques Gauthier at vice-skip — as a tuneup for the gold-medal game on Sunday.
“We know it’s going to be a competitive game; we’ve always been super-competitive with our cousin,” said Tardi. “I’m just excited to play. We know our next two games are in the arena, so we just want to get used to that; tune up a couple things. We don’t really need to worry too much about the scoreboard. Just stay sharp.”
Northern Ontario stayed in contention for a semifinal berth with a 7-4 win over Alberta’s Colton Goller (1-5; Calgary), taking four in the first end to set the tone.