Brandon’s Shayne MacGranachan will skip at the provincial juniors for the first time next week. (FILE PHOTO)
Boxing Day may be the beginning of the world junior hockey championship, but those players aren’t the only junior-aged athletes who will begin their quest for a world title on Dec. 26.
Manitoba’s junior curling championships begin that day in Portage la Prairie and there will be a trio of Westman teams in the field. All three skips are in the same boat in that they have never skipped a team in provincials before, but that doesn’t mean they’re lacking experience.
Shayne MacGranachan, who’s skipping a Brandon team that includes third Cody Chatham, second Donovan Hickson and lead Jefferey Steen, was in the 2013 and 2011 provincials as the third for Carberry’s Braden Calvert. Last year, they posted a 4-3 record and just missed the playoffs. This year’s squad is the same, except with Calvert out and Hickson in.
They have had a solid season so far, going 12-1 in the UCT Junior Super League and reaching the junior men’s consolation semifinals at the Sun Life Junior Challenge. The team feels prepared to take on some of the other top junior teams in the province, including defending national champion Matt Dunstone.
"I think it’s probably one of the tougher fields," said MacGranachan, 18. "I think it’s fair to say any team there is able to beat any other team there. For us, that means taking it one game at a time and see what happens."
Tyler Grumpelt’s Brandon team of Dale Guild, Max Van Kommer and Braden Orchard — which is 11-2 in the Junior Super League and reached the men’s championship semifinals at the Junior Challenge — will also be in the men’s event, along with Calvert’s Winnipeg-based team and Austin Mustard’s squad from the host club. Mustard is a Carberry native.
Meanwhile, Kylee Calvert will skip the lone team from Westman in the junior women’s event.
The 20-year-old from Carberry is making her sixth appearance at provincials, including 2009 when she was a fifth. It will be her first as a skip and she’s hoping to use her experience to her advantage.
"It will still be really nerve-racking because it is my first provincials as a skip, but I know how it works, so it’s not as nerve-racking as it would be my first time going," said Calvert, who was third on Janelle Shwindt’s team that went 1-6 last year.
Calvert’s Carberry squad also features Rianna Tonn, Hayley Surovy and Camille Lough. They reached the women’s quarter-finals at the Junior Challenge and have a 5-6 record in the Super League.
Minnedosa’s Jennifer Curle, who skips a team out of Winnipeg, will also be at provincials, which wraps up on Dec. 31.
SCOTTIES: Brandon’s Maureen Bonar fell 8-7 to Winnipeg’s Quinn Sneisen for a berth in the provincial Scotties on Tuesday in Portage la Prairie.
SENIORS: The Westman senior men’s regional playdowns will run from Friday through Sunday in Killarney.
U18s: The under-18 men’s, women’s and mixed doubles playdowns will be held at the Brandon Curling Club from Friday through Sunday.
EXTRA ENDS: Neepawa will host a Boxing Day Bonspiel. Teams will play three six-end games. The cost is $80. Contact Weldon Newton at 204-476-3824 … Brandon’s masters men’s bonspiel will run from Jan. 6-7. The entry fee is $160 per team. For more information, call Brian Johnston at 204-571-6962. The 123rd annual Brandon Men’s Bonspiel will follow from Jan. 9-14. For more information, contact Trevor Pomeroy at 204-573-9294 or email firstname.lastname@example.org …Minnedosa is putting on a junior bonspiel on Jan. 2 for anyone in Grade 5 or older. Contact Jean Garbolinsky at 204-867-2372 or Krista Dillabough at 204-867-5453.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 19, 2013