Roy rink pumped for shot at national title

Dan Falloon

Raymond Roy’s rink is ready to go on the island this week.
Roy and his crew of third Dave Broman, second Butch Wensley, and lead Patrick Briere are set to begin competition at the Dominion Curling Club Championship, which kicks off today in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
The Fort Frances quartet opens against New Brunswick, and also will face Alberta before the day is through.
The event wraps up Sunday (Nov. 28).
Roy said last week that his crew was geared up and ready to get curling.
“The team’s prepared. We’ve been definitely looking forward to it,” he enthused. “The team’s been practising.
“All our Northern Ontario clothing is ready to go,” Roy added. “We have team jackets, team shirts, all that kind of stuff—all with a Northern Ontario stamp on it.”
The local rink earned the berth to the nationals back on April 11 after a 5-2 win over Denis Prevost of Coniston at the provincial showdown at the Port Arthur Curling Club in Thunder Bay.
Roy and his squad finished with a 3-2 record in the round-robin to tie them with three other teams, then won both playoff games to take the title.
Roy said the team has been doing everything it can to get back into game shape since the local curling season kicked off last month.
“We’ve been practising individually since the season started, just when we can fit it into our own personal schedule,” he noted.
“We’ve had some team practices and we’ll have another team practice before we go, for sure.”
The team was scheduled to leave for Charlottetown on Monday.
Roy conceded the timing of the event is off compared to other curling championships, but stressed the other rinks are in a similar position.
“It’s a unique situation, where we won the province in April and then we really couldn’t practice anything over the summer—just whatever dryland we chose to do,” he explained.
“It’s a little bit different concept than we’re used to but we knew it was coming, and we knew once the season started that we wanted to sharpen up a bit.”
With this national championship only in its second year of existence, Roy said it’s difficult to gauge what his team is in for in their first appearance at the event.
“It’s really tough to know,” he remarked. “We know that they’ve all won their province so, obviously, they’re the strongest teams in their provinces,” he reasoned.
“We expect it’s going to be pretty stiff competition.”
Roy said his team will be successful if they’re able to keep the score low as they’ll likely be fairly opportunistic offensively.
“We’re a pretty good hitting team, a good defensive team,” he noted. “If we’re short a bit, it’s going to be in the offensive game, where if we get behind and try to generate points, it’s a little harder for us.”
The team’s strategy will be to try to get in the driver’s seat early as even getting a single point on the board helps to get them into a groove.
It’s something they weren’t always able to do at provincials, although they weren’t shabby at comebacks, recording a 3-1 mark when allowing the first point.
“We’re a good front-running team,” said Roy. “We want to score early—even if we score one, then we feel a lot more comfortable.
“That’s what the story of our success has been so far, just get ahead somehow.”
Roy said he’s not exactly sure what lies ahead for the team beyond the conclusion of the nationals as he and the rest of his foursome aren’t looking that far ahead.
“We might just go back into retirement because that’s where we were, and somehow we won,” he remarked.
“We were definitely at the end of our competitive careers, and this came along and somehow we got fortunate and snuck in there.
“We don’t have any specific plans past Nov. 29—we’ll see what happens,” he added.
The Fort Frances Curling Club held a send-off event for the rink Nov. 12, with Roy saying the party was just the tip of the iceberg of support.
“It’s been unbelievable,” he enthused. “We didn’t really expect anything, and all of our club members are certainly wishing us well.
“We’ve got people stopping us on the street and wishing us well.
“The club and the community has been awesome,” Roy lauded. “We really can’t walk down the street without somebody saying something, and it’s all positive stuff.
“Not only have the people been just fantastic—it’s unreal—but the sponsorship, the corporate sponsorship, has been unreal,” Roy added, singling out Gillons’ Insurance and the Dominion for their support.
The championship will be a not-for-profit event, with all profits being directed towards the Canadian Paraplegic Association and developmental curling programs across Canada.
Still, Roy said it’s an event he’s thrilled to be a part of.
“We’re certainly proud to be able to represent Fort Frances and the curling club, that’s for sure,” he remarked.