Four Hay River curlers have returned from the NWT Junior Curling Championships with a satisfying second-place result.
The tournament, which took place in Yellowknife from Jan. 3-6, included teams of various skill levels and experience.
The Hay River team came back with a split record, winning two games and losing two.
Coach Paul Delorey said the team’s result was more or less expected.
“We played against a young, inexperienced team that was more or less just starting out and we played against people who have been curling for a while,” he said. “We ended up right where we should have, halfway in between.”
The Hay River team – comprised of Nicholas Cockney, Jaymar Marzan, Nathan Scheper and skip Logan Gagnier – are 15 and 16 years old.
“Some of them have played together for a couple years, but not as a team,” Delorey said of his players.
With the result, the team has qualified for the 2013 Optimist International U-18 Curling Championships set for March 27-31 in Surrey and Langley, B.C.
Outside of the usual weekly training session that takes place on Tuesdays, Delorey asked his players to take the sport a bit more seriously.
“I stressed the importance of committing to the sport a bit more,” he said. “They did really well in Yellowknife and now they want to go to the U-18 championships, so they’ll have to keep working hard.”
Scheper, who is the team’s third and a curler for over seven years, said he enjoys the game because it’s fun to play.
“I want to work on strategy and improve my shots before going to Vancouver,” he said.
Scheper added it wasn’t always easy falling behind to other teams at the tournament.
“Sometimes we’d suddenly fall behind by five points, so they got a head start on us,” he said.
Coach Delorey is a long-time curler, having played the sport for over 45 years and coached for almost three decades.
Over the Christmas break, he invested a lot of time and effort in keeping the curling rink’s ice from disintegrating after the compressors froze up, which led to melting and almost resulted in losing the ice completely.
“It’s been a struggle since Christmas,” Delorey said. “I had to chisel some of the ice out and fill it up slowly with small floods. The paint ran out of the circle and it didn’t look its best, but I was able to patch it up and we’re back to playing conditions.”