By Woodard, Dale on March 7, 2020.
The Kyler Kurina rink started the U18 provincials off slowly, but ended with guns blazing.
Actually, both teams did.
But at the final stone it was the Lethbridge Curling Club rink of skip Kurina, third Evan Crough, second Garrett Johnston and lead Zac Duncan that emerged with this years U18 provincial curling title following a win over Team Sonnenberg in the gold medal game last weekend in Sexsmith.
It’s the foursome’s first provincial title and as a result will send them to their first nationals as Kurina and his crew pack their sliders at head to Sudbury, Ont. for this year’s nationals April 21-26
“It was our first time making provincials and now we have nationals, too,” said Kurina Friday afternoon at the Lethbridge Curling Club, where he’s back in action with the LCI boys team of third Lowell Whittmire, second Braeden Petro and lead Joe Iwashita at the Alberta Schools Athletic Association high school provincials.
But last weekend in Sexsmith it was a gradual climb for Kurina and his U18 rink as the foursome lost their first game of the week.
They regrouped, got used to the Sexsmith Curling Club ice and made the final.
When they did, both teams were ready.
“It was a lot of hitting,” said Kurina. “Team Sonnenberg played really well. I think both teams played 90 per cent. It was a good game, everybody was dialled in. We were tied coming home and he had to hit and draw to the four foot and rolled out and we took the win.”
Getting to play in a gold medal where both sides were mostly lights-out made it that much more fun.
“It was awesome,” said Kurina. “You want everybody to be able to play each other at the highest they can.”
Back home a week later and going for an ASAA high school curling title with his LCI rink, the reality of their U18 title and upcoming trip east has become a reality for Kurina.
“It’s finally sunk in,” he said. “It didn’t sink in when we played. At the last rock it was like ‘Did that really just happen’ But I’m proud of my team. We worked throughout the season and nationals was our goal.”
The nationals are over a month away and Kurina and his rink have three more bonspiels on the schedule in between a few weekends off to rest.
Then, they’ll face the rest of the country.
“I think it’s going to be awesome,” said Kurina. “We’re playing on arena ice and curling club ice. So it will be neat to have spectators sitting around you on the blue carpet with all the officials, so it’s going to be different.”
“We have goals and we set them throughout the week,” said Kurina. “Our biggest one is probably getting used to arena ice and club ice because they’re a lot different. We’ll play as good as we can.”
This is the second year Kurina has played with his U18 team.
“We play on the Alberta Junior Curling Tour, so all these teams have played together for years and you start to get to know them,” said Kurina. “It was kind of out of the blue, but it worked.”
In the meantime, Kurina donned his LCI colours at provincials and as of Friday afternoon, he and his boys teammates were off to a 4-0 start.
“We had a little bit of a rocky start (Thursday), but it was good today,” said Kurina. “There are a lot of hard teams. I’m pretty impressed. A lot of the shot-calling is similar to the competitive U18.”
In Friday’s action, the Catholic Central mixed team finished round-robin play at 4-0.
Catholic Central defeated St. Paul Regional 6-5 and Blessed Sacrament 9-1 to take first in Pool A
The Coaldale Kate Andrews mixed team is 3-1, defeating Calgary William Aberhart 13-1 and St. Paul Regional 5-3 on Friday.
The LCI mixed team is 1-3 after the round-robin. On Friday, they lost 10-1 to High Prairie E.W. Pratt and 9-7 to Barrhead.
In boys Pool A play Chinook is 2-2, losing 10-5 to St. Paul Regional and dropping a 7-4 decision to Calgary Henry Wise Wood Friday.
Also in boys Pool A play Friday, Warner sits at 1-3 after a 13-3 loss to Castor Gus Wetter and a 7-6 win over St. Paul Regional.
In girls Pool B play, LCI and Cochrane each have 3-1 records after Friday’s play.
LCI beat Hillside 11-2, but lost 5-4 to Westlock R.F. Staples.
The Vulcan County Central girls team is 1-3. They beat Cochrane St. Timothy 10-3 Friday morning, but were defeated 8-2 by St. Paul Regional in the final draw.
Necessary tie breakers will take place this morning at 8:30 a.m. with the boys, girls and mixed semifinals following at 11 a.m.
The gold and bronze medal games for each division take place at 2 p.m.
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