Provincial glory for Okotoks pair
Curling: Taylor Ardiel, Kyle Morrison off to Junior nationals
Saturday, Jan 04, 2014 10:23 am
Two Okotoks curlers went the extra mile to break new ground at the Junior men’s provincials.
Okotokians Taylor Ardiel and Kyle Morrison helped Team Lautner pull off a 7-4 win in an extra end over defending champion Thomas Scoffin in the Alberta Junior Men’s Provincial Championship final on Dec. 31 to complete a remarkable week of comebacks in Leduc.
“It’s one of those things that you fight and fight for so it’s pretty cool to finally get one of those (purple heart crests) in our last year of Junior,” said Ardiel, the team’s third. “I never was really into curling as a kid, I got really good at it and once I started realizing I could do things and go places in the sport you want to be that guy that you watch on TV, that you’ll see on the Olympics someday.
“It’s a long road, but it’s one of those goals where we’re one step before the final one.”
A fork in the road in Leduc nearly put those national dreams on ice in a seesaw final.
Scoffin, who had qualified for seven consecutive Junior nationals coming into the spiel, carried a 2-0 lead through six ends before skip Carter Lautner stormed back with a double in the seventh and singles in the eighth and ninth ends. Scoffin forced an extra-end with a double in the 10, setting the stage for Lautner’s four-foot runback with hammer to seal the win with the last rock.
“I asked Carter before the game what do you want to throw to win? And he said a straight hit-and-stick,” Ardiel said. “This was a straight hit-and-stick, so I thought I’m not going to change his mind so put the broom down and go.”
Late stage heroics were par for the course all week long for Team Lautner.
The Calgary foursome, which has David Aho at second and Morrison at lead, opened its provincial bid with a 6-5 win over Scott Smith, a former teammate of Ardiel’s, by picking up a single in the 10th end.
After registering an 8-5 triumph over Edmonton’ Kenton Maschmeyer, Lautner earned a comeback 4-3 win over Aiden Procter by picking up two in the 10th end to steal the victory.
Lautner continued to roll by picking up a 10-7 victory over Nanton’s Jeremy Harty and earning a 10-4 romp over Scoffin on the strength of a six-point seventh-end.
In its round-robin finale with a bye to the championship game on the line, the Calgary rink took two in the 10th end to edge Dawson Creek’s Daylan Vavrek by a 7-6 score and book a ticket to the provincial final.
“We play better when we’re down multiple points than single points and we play very well with a lead,” Ardiel said. “It’s one of those things where if you ever have that self-doubt if you’re going to lose a game, then you’re not going to make shots.”
The Alberta title bookends a remarkable season of ascension from a veritable makeshift team thrown together at the last minute. Ironically, Lautner and Ardiel tried out to play on the front-end for Scoffin, but were turned down in the off-season.
“It’s funny to see how four misfits get thrown together and how they just go with it,” Ardiel said. “We all know our jobs and what we have to do. Carter calls it a contract and we work for him.
“It’s fun to see how we went from four guys that might not have curled this year to winning the provincial title.”
Morrison, a teammate of Ardiel’s while they attended Foothills Composite High School, made his return to competitive curling after a brief hiatus from the sport.
“You’re always hopeful when you start the season and as the season progressed I thought we had a real good chance and apparently we seized our chance there,” said Morrison, who pondered a move to Saskatchewan in the off-season before opting to continue his civil engineering and technology studies at SAIT. “There was an opportunity there and I decided to stay here instead.”
In the women’s division, Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque edged Calgary’s Jocelyn Peterman 6-5 to win the provincial title.
The Junior men’s and women’s Canadian Curling Championships run from Jan. 18-26 in Liverpool, Nova Scotia.
“If we play like we did this weekend then we have a very good chance of doing very well there,” Morrison said. “We’ve all got the skills to be at this level and it’s more so just refining it to the point where we can consistently play to our best all the time.”
Team Lautner is the second seed at nationals. Alberta has won three of the past eight Junior men’s national titles, most recently when Brendan Bottcher earned the Canadian championship in 2012.
For more information on the Junior nationals go to curling.ca/2014juniors