Braden Calvert raced his way to final of the M&M Meat Shops Canadian junior curling championships in Liverpool, N.S., and now he has to wait for his chance to win a national title.
The 18-year-old skip from Carberry secured his spot in the final on Wednesday after winning his first eight games at the 14-team event. His Winnipeg-based team of Kyle Kurz, Lucas Van Den Bosch and Brendan Wilson split their two games on Thursday to wrap up their championship pool play with a 9-1 record and they now have two full days off before they return to the ice for the final on Sunday at 2 p.m.
It’s a long wait for the foursome, but Calvert doesn’t think it will be hard to pass the time and stay focused.
"I don’t think we’re too worried about (staying focused)," said Calvert, who has planned practice sessions for each of his team’s days off. "We’re just going to stay loose and be as prepared as we can. We have a pool and ping pong table at our lodge and we’re just going to have some fun and be ready for Sunday."
The team also brought a Playstation 3 and NHL 14 with them, which has led to a friendly competition among the Manitoba players.
This week has turned into a dream come true for Calvert. The agribusiness student at the University of Manitoba is making his debut on the national scene, caught on to the ice quickly and his team played very well in front of him, which is why he said he got off to such a good start.
However, Calvert has seen teams get off to good starts but not come out on top. He didn’t have to look very far back to find an example as defending national champion Matt Dunstone was undefeated in this year’s Manitoba playdowns before Calvert knocked him off in the final.
Calvert got his loss out of the way on Thursday morning, falling 8-6 to British Columbia’s Cameron de Jong, but he doesn’t view it as relieving some pressure of being undefeated. Instead, he believes it was a hiccup that his team rebounded from to top Nova Scotia’s Robert Mayhew 8-2 in the afternoon.
"I wouldn’t say relief," Calvert said. "It’s a rebound that we needed to do and we refocused luckily and we played really solid against Nova Scotia."
If Calvert and his team win Sunday’s final, they will represent Canada at the world junior curling championships in Flims, Switzerland from Feb. 26 to March 5, but Manitoba’s skip doesn’t want to look that far ahead.
Instead he’s trying to focus on the final, although he isn’t sure who he will face yet as none of the other teams have secured a spot in Sunday’s semifinal. The teams that will play in the semifinal for the right to face Manitoba in the final will be decided in the last draw or by tiebreakers today.
The semifinal will be played at 7:30 a.m. Both the semifinal and final will be shown live on TSN, and Calvert is excited for the chance to play in front of a national audience and continue to get a lot of support from Manitobans.
"I think if we prepare the right way it shouldn’t (bother the team to be on TSN)," he said. "We’re really looking forward to the final and we’re going to have some fun with it. It’s pretty neat to have everyone in Manitoba supporting our team and we’re really looking forward to represent Manitoba in the final."
Meanwhile, Dauphin’s Meaghan Brezden and her Manitoba junior women’s team of Abby Ackland, Danielle LaFleur and Nikki Boulet finished with a 5-5 record in the women’s championship pool and missed the playoffs.
Brezden opened the day with a 7-4 loss to British Columbia’s Kalia Van Osch (7-2), before falling 6-4 to Alberta’s Kelsey Rocque (9-1) in the evening.
With the win, Rocque secured a spot in Saturday’s final. Van Osch will in be the semifinal.