No matter what their record says, Hailey Beaudry and her curling crew brought plenty home from their inaugural experience at OFSAA.
The majority of their souvenirs, which took the form of priceless experience on Ontario high school curling’s biggest stage, won’t show their true value until next year.
The Muskie skip and her rink of third Nicole Hartlin, second Erin Tomalty, and co-leads Tory and Anika Beaudry finished their stay in Brampton last week with an 0-4 record and did not advance from Pool ‘A.’
But with no Grade 12 players on the rink, the promise of next season already burns deep in the hearts of each member with the knowledge they all will be together again to try for another run at provincial glory.
“It was lots of fun and it was great for building experience for us to prepare us for next year,” Beaudry said about her rink, which also qualified for the Bantam provincials earlier this season.
“We didn’t do as well as we wanted,” she admitted. “But we know we’ll be better for next year.”
The most compelling tale of the Muskies’ on-ice experience happened right off the bat.
The black-and-gold fell behind Our Lady of Mount Carmel Lions (Mississauga) 9-3 after six ends in their opening match last Wednesday morning—only to pull off a shocking six-ender in the seventh to tie the score.
“Early in the game, there was a couple of ends where we didn’t make our shots and they got some lucky swings in the ice that helped them,” Beaudry recalled.
“That kind of downed our spirits,” she noted. “But we just told ourselves we were still in this.
“I never expected before OFSAA that we would come up with a six-ender.”
The Mississauga rink used the hammer to their advantage in the eighth and final end, however, drawing for a single to win 10-9.
“I was trying for a draw on my last rock and was hoping I could get it buried so they would have to make some crazy raise hit to get their point,” said Beaudry.
“But I came up short and they drew for the win.”
That was the closest Fort High would come to getting into the win column.
The Muskies fell 8-1 in six ends to the Loretto Abbey Gators (Toronto) on Wednesday afternoon, giving up steals of two in the first and three in the second to get behind the eight-ball early.
Then with their playoff chances hanging in the balance, Beaudry’s bunch came out firing against the Medway High School Cowboys (Arva) last Thursday morning, getting their first lead of the week with a pair in the third and then stealing another pair in the fourth to move ahead 4-1.
The Muskies gave it all back—and then some—in the fifth, surrendering four to trail 5-4.
But they regained the lead on a tapback by Beaudry in the sixth, which got plenty of sweeping help from the front end, to pick up two for a 6-5 lead.
It was all Medway after that, though. The Cowboys scored three in the seventh, then stole one more in the eighth for a 9-6 victory and dash Fort High’s playoff hopes.
The Muskies then lost their finale 7-3 to the Richfield Collegiate Institute Saints (Etobicoke) later Thursday.
Beaudry suggested her rink never truly got comfortable with the ice conditions, which played much faster than what they usually encounter.
“It was hard to read,” she admitted.
“Most of our trouble was adjusting on our weights,” Beaudry added.
“We had to throw so much lighter than we usually do.”
The team, along with coaches Christine Jean and Kim Beaudry, stayed in southern Ontario for an extra day to enjoy the sights and take in a Toronto Raptors’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Air Canada Centre, which was part of a package offered to all participating OFSAA rinks.
But after an arduous week, the Muskie skip took a pass this time.
“I’m kind of short, so watching basketball and playing basketball has never really been my thing,” confessed Beaudry.
Her decision to stay at the hotel that final evening helped her avoid a bit of a hectic situation involving her teammates and a certain headline-making Canadian singer.
“The girls were betting in fun before the game which celebrity they would see first and who would see them first,” Beaudry explained.
“Then, just like that, they turn around and look right above them and there’s Justin Bieber.
“The girls started screaming, and I guess security had to come over and tell them to calm down,” Beaudry laughed.
The best advice Beaudry got was delivered by Leigh Armstrong, the lead for four-time Scotties Tournament of Hearts bronze-medalist Sherry Middaugh from Coldwater, Ont., who was the guest speaker at the OFSAA banquet.
“She told us if we have the chance to go a day earlier for a bonspiel and do some sightseeing, to make sure we do it to hang out and help take the stress off,” noted Beaudry.
“I have to be not so stressed out when I play,” she added.
“I just have to worry about how I play and trust my teammates will play their game, as they trust me,” Beaudry reasoned.
“I learned we have to remember to see the strengths in one another and only worry about what we can control.”