A product of the Fort Frances Curling Club and Fort Frances High School was part of the Northern Ontario team that came in second place at the U-21 Men’s National Curling Championship at the beginning of the month in Rouyn-Noranda, QC.
Owen Riches played lead for team Dallas Burgess at the national championship.
Riches, who now lives in Thunder Bay, where he is going to school, he joined the team this year after having met before at the U-18 level.
The Burgess rink had been together for a while but lost a player ahead of this year.
“I had met the guys before because I used to play against them, back a couple years ago when I had my own under 18 team,” Riches said. “I always played against them, they were our biggest rivals really. They reached out to me probably around this time last year and asked me my plans for the season. I was grateful to be on a team with those guys because they did really well last year and went to nationals, so I was pretty excited when they asked me.”
Over the course of the year the team played in different tournaments and bonspiels including the senior men’s qualifiers in Kenora.
They qualified to represent Northern Ontario at the qualifier in Thunder Bay beating out two other teams to earn the right to wear the green and yellow at the National Juniors.
Riches says the team’s goal going into the tournament was to reach the playoffs. Over the course of the week the team played 11 games and lost just four. They struggled in the final giving up steals in the eighth and ninth ends and ended up conceding after going down three after the ninth end.
“Going into the tournament our main goal was trying to get to the playoffs. The top three teams from each pool got to go and there were some good teams in our pool for sure,” Riches said. “To beat those teams was crazy, it felt awesome. Once we won our first playoff game, I think we had a lot of momentum going into the next one and then into the final. So we just fell short unfortunately but it was still really cool to think we were second place in the whole country.”