OUA Curling Championship preview
Source: OUA Communications
HAMILTON, Ont. – The top curlers from across Ontario will be making their way to the Guelph Curling Club as the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) men and women’s Curling Championships begin February 16, hosted by Trent University. Play begins with the first women’s draws at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday morning followed by the men’s first draws at 1 p.m. and the action continues until the champions are crowned on Monday, February 20. The championship and bronze medal games are slated for 3:30 p.m. Monday afternoon.
After claiming their first ever OUA title a year ago, the host Trent Excalibur men’s squad will be looking to defend their title while the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks aim to become the first women’s team to repeat as champion since Western did so in 2003.
Laurier’s women’s squad has not competed in OUA action since November 28 at an exhibition event but is coming off international success having captured the gold medal as Canada’s representative at the Karuizawa International Curling Championship held in Japan. The Hawks return first team all-stars Laura Crocker (Scarborough, Ont.) and Jen Gates (Sudbury, Ont.) along with the remainder of last year’s championship group and will be a tough team to overcome. Laurier’s men’s team finished second at both the Brock Invitational and Laurier bonspiel this season and, led by former all-stars Shane Konings (Gowanstown, Ont.) and Joel Waters (Georgetown, Ont.), look to return to the championship match after winning silver at last year’s championship.
Both the men and women from Brock have had successful competitions so far this year and are already looking forward to the CIS championship as hosts of this year’s national finals. Brock’s women won OUA bronze and CIS silver a season ago and are looking to be Laurier’s top competition this year as they return all-stars Jessica Corrado (Etobicoke, Ont.), Joanne Curtis (Brampton, Ont.), and Lauren Wasylkiw (Kleinburg, Ont.). The women took home the Brock Invitational title this year while the men’s team finished tied for second at the event. As the most senior male curler, the Badgers will lean on third-year Kevin Mailloux (Mississauga, Ont.) to guide them this weekend.
After finishing fifth at last year’s championships, the Waterloo Warriors men’s team is out to prove they are capable of more and have posted an 11-1-1 record in pre-championship action in 2011-2012. Skipped by Jake Walker (Minden, Ont.), the men recently finished first at the Laurier bonspiel and also claimed the top spot at the Brock Invitational and are certainly top challengers for this year’s title. The women have also found success this year, winning the Laurier bonspiel and finishing second at the Brock Invitational under new skip Kaitlin Stubbs (Norwood, Ont.). With only three losses heading into the championship, the Warriors will be contenders this year.
Making their first appearance at the OUA Championships, the UOIT Ridgebacks have shown they belong, posting competitive results during the pre-competition season. The women’s team placed third at the Brock Invitational and fifth at the Laurier bonspiel while the men’s squad finished fifth at Brock and fourth at Laurier. The Ridgebacks will be looking to earn their first curling medals in program history.
Despite an eighth place finish at the Brock Invitational, the Western Mustangs men’s team will still be competitive at this year’s championship. The Mustangs earned four ties during that event, proving they are at the same level as the rest of the field. The women’s team finished fourth at Brock earlier this year and is looking to senior Sarah Mason (Dundalk, Ont.) to help reach the podium at this year’s championship after finishing fourth a year ago.
The Guelph Gryphons women’s team took home the silver medal at last year’s championship and returning skip Clancy Grandy will be looking to better their performance in 2012. The Gryphon men, who placed third last year, will also be competitive this weekend.
The 2011-2012 edition of the Trent men’s squad is quite different than last season’s championship rink. Only Chris Whitehill (Peterborough, Ont.) and Trevor Brewer (Belleville, Ont.) return so the team will rely on rookie skip Mike Kean (Bright, Ont.) to lead the Excalibur. The men finished fourth at the Brock Invitational and are looking to rebound from a disappointing eighth place showing at the Laurier bonspiel. The women’s squad, skipped by Lana Shapton, is looking to improve on last year’s eighth place finish at the championships.
The McMaster Marauders will be represented by the women’s squad who placed fifth at the Brock Invitational.
Other teams competing at this year’s championship include Carleton, Lakehead, Laurentian, Queen’s, Toronto, and Windsor.
With Brock University hosting this year’s national championship, OUA will have three participating teams of each gender at the CIS championship in St. Catharines, taking place March 14-18.
For the list of pools and draw schedule, please click here.