1/29/2007 9:15:01 PM
1/29/2007 9:15:01 PM
The M&M Meat Shops Canadian junior men's and women's curling championships, the first event in the 2007 Season of Champions, get underway in St. Catharines, Ontario on Saturday.
Thirteen men's and 13 women's teams (10 provinces plus Northern Ontario, Northwest Territories and Yukon) will play round robin games at two venues, the St. Catharines Golf & Country Club and Jack Gatecliff Arena. At the conclusion of the round robin, the first place teams advance to their respective finals, while the second and third place finishers meet in semi-finals Friday evening at the Arena.
The men's final is on Saturday, February 10 at 1:30 pm ET, while the women's final takes place Sunday, February 11 at 12:30 pm ET.
The winners will then represent Canada at the world junior curling championships, March 3-11 in Eveleth, Minnesota. Canada has won a leading 15 world junior men's titles since 1975 and eight women's crowns since 1988.
This will mark the second time in six years that St. Catharines has staged the Canadian Juniors. In 2001, it hosted the Kärcher Juniors, won by Newfoundland's Brad Gushue and Prince Edward Island's Suzanne Gaudet, both of whom also went on to capture world junior titles in Ogden, Utah a month later.
At last year's inaugural M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors in Thunder Bay, Alberta's Charley Thomas and Saskatchewan's Mandy Selzer emerged as champions. Thomas went on to skip his team to a gold medal at the world juniors in Jeonju, Korea, while Selzer earned a silver medal.
Heading this year's junior men's line-up is the aforementioned Canadian and world champion, Charley Thomas, who along with lead Kyle Reynolds, return to defend their title. However, they have a new third, Brock Virtue and new second, Matt Ng. Thomas will try to join Ontario skip John Morris as the only two-time consecutive winner of Canadian and world junior men's crowns, a feat Morris accomplished in 1998-99.
The roster also includes the youngest skip in Canadian Juniors history, 12-year-old Thomas Scoffin of Yukon, who replaces Prince Edward Island's Brett Gallant as the record-holder. Gallant was 13 years old when he skipped in 2004 and will be representing his province this year for a third time. Other returning skips include Northwest Territories' Colin Miller and Nova Scotia's Dominic Daemen. Ontario will be represented by skip Ryan Myler and his Brampton Curling Club team.
The women's roster is headed by last year's runner-up, Manitoba's Calleen Neufeld, who lost the final to Saskatchewan's Mandy Selzer, 10-6 and who will be making her third consecutive appearance at the national championship.