Yukon without a boys team for upcoming junior curling nationals
Tom Patrick/Yukon News
An attendance record spanning more than two decades is soon to end.
For the first time since 1995 there won’t be Yukon rink competing in the boys draw at the Canadian Junior Curling Championships, which this season takes place Jan. 21-29 in Victoria, B.C.
The impending absence comes after not a single boys team entered the Yukon Junior Curling Championships that were supposed to take place this week in Whitehorse.
“We have another junior team coming up, but they’re pretty young — like 12 and 13 — and they don’t feel they can make a go of it,” said Yukon Curling Association executive director Laura Eby. “They’re intimidated more than anything.
“Hopefully we field a team next year because it really throws Curling Canada for a loop if there’s not a full flight of teams. They do the draws months in advance.”
In 1995 a Yellowknife rink led by skip Jamie Koe — now a 10-time Brier veteran — represented both N.W.T. and Yukon at the nationals, back when the two territories were represented by a single team.
Last year’s Yukon boys team — whose members are still eligible — has two members out of the territory at school, another working in N.W.T., and therefore did not enter this year’s territorial playdown.
Not only was Yukon’s junior boys championship supposed to take place this week at the Whitehorse Curling Club, so was the junior girls and the men’s and women’s masters championships.
With only one team entered in each, three teams have punched their tickets for nationals without throwing a single rock.
“Sometimes we get a couple men’s and a couple women’s (in masters), but never more than that, so that’s normal,” said Eby. “Typically we have a boys’ team. We did try, we put our best foot forward, but it never happened.”
Yukon will be represented at junior nationals in the girls draw by Team Meger — skip Alyssa Meger, vice skip Emily Matthews, second Peyton L’Henaff and lead Zaria Netro, with coach Chris Meger.
Alyssa and L’Henaff curled for Yukon at the 2015 Canada Winter Games. All four made up Team Yukon at last year’s junior nationals in Ontario and finished with a 2-7 record.
At the masters nationals, for curlers 60 and over, Yukon will be represented by Team Zealand in the men’s draw and Team Johnson in the women’s.
Skip Gordon Zealand, third George Hilderman, second Richard Timble and lead Bob Walker will take on the nation in the men’s while skip Ellen Johnson, third Ev Pasichnuk, second Nancy Kowalyshen and lead Elaine Sumner will do the same in the women’s draw.
Zealand and Walker were on Darol Stuart’s rink last year at the masters nationals, helping the team secure a 2-7 record and 12th place finish ahead of N.W.T. and P.E.I.
Johnson, Pasichnuk and Sumner went 1-7 with a win over P.E.I. at last year’s nationals, placing fourth out of four in the seeding pool.
The 2017 Canadian Masters Curling Championship will take place April 3-9 in Guelph, Ont.