It was a long road trip that was worth its weight in gold. NWOSSAA gold, that is.
The Fort Frances-based rink of skip Ashley Payne, third Jillian Cousineau, second Daffni Chabot, lead Lauren Penney and fifth Anna Peters had their nearly week-long journey finally end on Tuesday afternoon with them winning the gold medal for the Muskies at the NWOSSAA championship in Longlac.
That came on the tail-end of a six-day sojourn that began last Wednesday in Sault Ste. Marie when they arrived for the U18 girls’ provincials, where they faced a much tougher time in finishing eighth out of eight teams with a 1-6 record in round robin play and thus missing the playoffs.
“The girls bounced back from a disappointing finish at the U18 provincials,” lauded coach Kim Beaudry.
“We curled a lot of great games [at the provincials], with many coming down to the last rock. Unfortunately, there we were on the wrong side of the rock.”
The Muskies opened play at NWOSSAA on Sunday with a hard-fought 6-5 loss to the Sioux Lookout Warriors.
But the NorWOSSA champs rebounded in a big way in their next game on Monday with an 11-0 thumping of the St. Ignatius Falcons.
Fort High then dumped the host École secondaire Château-Jeunesse 7-4 before also defeating the Geraldton Knights 9-4 later in the day.
The Muskies ended round robin play on Tuesday morning with a 14-2 rout of the Hammarskjold Vikings (Thunder Bay), where they scored seven in the fifth end to seal the win.
Since the Muskies, École secondaire Château-Jeunesse and Sioux Lookout all had identical 4-1 records after round robin play, tiebreakers were needed to decide the NWOSSAA champ.
Fort High had the best draw shot average, giving them a bye to the tiebreaker final, where they again took on École secondaire Château-Jeunesse and prevailed once more with a dramatic 4-3 win to book their ticket to the OFSAA curling championships for the third straight year.
“Tiebreakers are only four ends,” Beaudry noted.
“In the fourth end, we missed the draw to win the game which forced the extra end and meant we had to steal a point to win.
“The other team ended up with [a rock] buried on the four-foot behind guards and we managed to draw one on top,” she recalled.
“For Ashley’s last shot, she had to play the double guard run back, which left us sitting two. [Château-Jeunesse] attempted the double and only managed to remove one stone, leaving us the winning point.”
It will be third trip to the all-Ontarios for Payne, the second for each of Chabot, Cousineau and Penney, and the first for Peters.
The Whitby, Port Perry and Uxbridge Curling Clubs are jointly hosting the provincial championships this year, running March 25-28.
As for the Muskie boys’ rink, they compiled a 4-1 record en route to a silver-medal finish at NWOSSAA in Longlac.
The squad, which is skipped by Owen Riches and also includes Brayden Sabbe, Kian McEvoy, Brett Schram and Jordon Bazylewski, opened play on Sunday strongly with a 7-1 win over the Rainy River Owls.
The NorWOSSA champs then dumped the Westgate Tigers (Thunder Bay) 7-3 on Monday before routing the Lake Superior Stingers 8-1 and losing 10-5 to the St. Ignatius Falcons (Thunder Bay) later in the day.
Fort High then ended round robin play by rebounding with a 10-2 shellacking of the École Secondaire Catholique Trillium Coyotes (Chapleau) on Tuesday morning to finish with the silver medal.
St. Ignatius claimed NWOSSAA gold with a perfect 5-0 record and secured the berth to OFSAA later this month.
The rest of the Owls boys’ rink’s results, as well as where they finished in the standings, wasn’t confirmed as of press time today.
The squad was comprised of Hayden Haw (skip), William Low (third), Carlin Drennan (second), and Carter St. Pierre (lead).