Bronze finish for Okotoks curlers
Curling: Taylor Ardiel, Kyle Morrison get on podium at nationals
By: Remy Greer
| Posted: Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 02:43 pm
Two Okotokians brought home some silverware from the curling expedition of a lifetime.
Team Alberta’s Taylor Ardiel and Kyle Morrison from Okotoks slid into a bronze medal finish at the Canadian Junior Men’s Curling Championships in Liverpool, Nova Scotia on Sunday, just missing out on a berth in the gold medal final.
“It was definitely one of those once in a lifetime experiences and at that point you can’t have any complaints about what went on,” said Morrison, Team Alberta’s lead. “The team played outstanding all week, we shot the lights out all week and just struggled a little bit in that last game.”
Alberta, featuring Carter Lautner at skip, Ardiel at third, David Aho at second and Morrison at lead dropped the semifinal 9-4 to New Brunswick after falling behind 7-0 through four ends. In the final, Team Manitoba held off New Brunswick to win the province’s second straight Junior national title.
“Every team member left everything out there on the ice and we just came out on the losing side,” Morrison said. “From the stats we were completely even with them, they just happened to capitalize on the right shots.
“Anytime you place on the podium at the national level, it’s still a good feeling. Just a little disappointing right afterwards.”
Team Alberta finished second in Pool B with a 5-1 record in round-robin, picking up victories over the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Yukon, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia and suffering its only loss to New Brunswick – the top-seed in Pool B.
In the championship round, Alberta bounced back from opening losses to Saskatchewan and Manitoba to edge Ontario 4-2 and sweep away Northern Ontario by a 7-2 count to move onto the semifinal.
“When we beat Northern Ontario it was a real self-realization that we’re getting a medal at nationals, no matter what,” Ardiel said. “We’re one of the top three teams in Canada and no one can take that away from us.”
“We did our best to get here and look how far we’ve come. It’s something that’s a huge accomplishment at our level.”
To top-off the on-ice exhilaration, the Okotoks curlers certainly enjoyed the rock star status they received from the army of volunteers in the town of just over 2,000 on Nova Scotia’s southern coast.
“To have over 300 volunteers and co-ordinators there watch us every day, they stat our games, they’ll put up scores on the scoreboards and you just make conversation with them, your friendly with them,” Ardiel said. “And they adore us, so you sit down and have something to eat and they say ‘can I have a picture with you’.
“We were treated as professionals at our level. It’s a cool insight to being one step away from men’s and if you get on a good team this could be the rest of your curling career.”
“It was a great feeling. Even after that game we lost we were feeling a little down, but everyone is supportive of you,” Morrison said. “You know it’s a good weekend when little kids come up to you and want to have their picture taken with you and have you sign stuff.”
Lautner finished the week with the top-shooting percentage at his position at 80 per cent and was named to the first-team all tournament squad. Team Alberta second Aho’s 79 per cent shooting earned him second-team all tournament honours.
Meanwhile, Ardiel was recognized by his competition for outstanding decorum on and off the ice and picked up the Ken Watson Sportsmanship Award.
“It’s voted on by players and umpires had a little bit of say in it and that’s a huge accomplishment to be honoured for that,” Ardiel said. “If the athletes aren’t there, if the volunteers and the officials and the people it takes to run this big of an event weren’t there, we wouldn’t have been there in the first place.
“Taking two seconds of your time to go and say thank you to someone, it doesn’t take long and they absolutely love it.”
The season isn’t quite over yet for the provincial champions with the Alberta Junior Curling Tour Players’ Championship still to come in Edmonton, April 11-13.
Ardiel, a 2011 graduate of Foothills Composite High School, ages up to men’s curling next season – where he’s hoping to carry the national fever forward.
“If I get the call to come to Nova Scotia or wherever it is, whoever wants to call, I’m ready and willing to jump on that boat as long as it’s a good ride and I have a good chance to get there,” he said. “It all depends, it’s a funny thing how small the curling world is and how fast word comes around so we’ll see.”
As the back end of Ardiel and Lautner ponder future beyond the Junior ranks, Morrison, one year younger, is hungry to give nationals another shot in 2014-15.
“It’s extremely motivational. I can’t think of anything else I want do right now (other) than get right back to that place,” Morrison said. “I don’t know for sure what I’m doing next year, but I’m going to try and get on a team to get me right back to that spot and get that second chance.”
On the women’s side, Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque, Keely Brown, Taylor McDonald and Claire Tully edged Team British Columbia 7-6 on Saturday to win the national gold medal.