Team Braden Calvert claimed the men's title at the Canola Junior Provincial Curling Championships at the Portage Curling Club Tuesday, while Team Meagan Brezden won the women's final. (KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
A pair of curlers who cut their teeth in western Manitoba celebrated New Year’s Eve as provincial champions after skipping Winnipeg-based teams to Manitoba junior titles on Tuesday in Portage la Prairie.
Carberry native Braden Calvert guided his Deer Lodge team to the junior men’s championship with a 6-1 win over defending Canadian champion Matt Dunstone of West Kildonan, while Dauphin native Meaghan Brezden led her Granite team to an 8-2 victory over Kristy Watling of the Victoria club in the junior women’s final.
"It was definitely a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to win a buffalo like that," Calvert said, referring to the buffalo crests the champions received. "I just played really well this week and was able to do it."
Calvert, 18, left Carberry in the fall to attend the University of Manitoba and formed a new team with Winnipeggers Kyle Kurz, Lucas Van Den Bosh and Brendan Wilson. They clicked as the fourth seeds in Portage, going 5-2 in the round robin, then running the table in the playoffs. In the final they watched Dunstone blank the first three ends before reeling off three straight steals on their way to the upset.
"I knew we were definitely capable of taking on Matt," said Calvert, who defeated Dunstone in the final of last year’s provincial under-18 championship. "He’s such a great team, but we just played so well all week and we were getting better each game and in the playoffs."
Brezden, who also won the women’s Susan Galbraith Sportsmanship Award, wasn’t one of the top five seeds, but she teamed with Abby Ackland, Danielle Lafleur and Nikki Boulet to go 5-2 and earn first place in their pool on a tiebreaker. In the final they scored three in the seventh end and added steals in the next two to put away No.5 Watling.
Both teams will compete in the Canadian junior championships, Jan. 18-26 in Liverpool, N.S., giving Calvert something to look forward to in 2014 after a remarkable 2013 in which he also skipped his team to a provincial high school title to go along with his Manitoba under-18 and junior crowns.
"It’s been pretty successful, I guess you could say," said Calvert, who also won the 2013 Optimist International under-18 title as the lead for Kyle Doering in Langley, B.C. "I don’t know, I just practised a lot in the last two years and it’s really paid off so far."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 2, 2014