GREG SAKAKI photo Rebecca Douglas of Port Alberni delivers a rock during play Saturday at the Curl B.C. U18 provincial championships at the Nanaimo Curling Centre.

Douglas rink from Port Alberni, Parksville earns U18 curling bronze

Team of Port Alberni, Parksville curlers dubbed home team at provincials

Mid-Island curlers were able to end their provincial championships experience with a win last weekend in Nanaimo.

The Rebecca Douglas rink won its bronze-medal game Sunday morning to conclude the Curl B.C. U18 championships at the Nanaimo Curling Centre.

Parksville’s Lauren Onushko, Michaela Morrill and Libby Elliott, along with Victoria’s Julia Kresse and Port Alberni’s Douglas, won 5-4 against a Delta rink skipped by Sarah Daniels.

There was no Nanaimo entry, so Douglas’ team was the de facto home team.

“The atmosphere was really good. It was very positive,” Elliott said. “I’ve never been to one of these before and it was amazing to experience.”

Elliott said her team played really well in its final game.

“We stepped up our level a lot and we made pretty much all of our shots, which was really good,” she said.

Team Douglas knew that it was in tough against Team Daniels, one of the pre-tournament favourites.

“Going into it, we just had to keep it clean and keep it open, otherwise we could get into too much trouble, but I think we did pretty well sticking to that plan,” Douglas said.

Not everything went to plan, though – Douglas was sick Sunday and wasn’t able to go at game time and so Kresse threw skip stones for the first four ends.

“At the beginning we were a bit nervous, so we missed a few, but then we got our confidence back and played nine out of 10 perfect,” Onushko said.

Successfully utilizing all five members of the team doesn’t always happen, especially with a medal on the line, but the Island girls made it work. Onushko said having five players allowed the group to mix things around and try different strategies this season.

“Outside of curling we bonded as friends and as a team,” she said.

Onushko, who will now age up from the U18 division, said her team had targeted a top-three finish and feels like it achieved a goal.

“It’s really a good accomplishment, because we were in our first year playing as a team, we just got put together and we played our best,” she said.

Douglas said the team played amazingly.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team,” the skip said. “[Bronze] is more than I could imagine – even being in the top four was amazing.”

Winning gold was Coquitlam’s Heather Drexel, who defeated Prince George’s Carly Connor 5-2.

“This was the best we’ve played all weekend; this was definitely our best game,” Drexel said.

She and her teammates shed tears after sharing their third provincial championship.

“Every time it’s just as emotional, it’s just as exciting,” she said.

Everly Royea, the team’s third, said her rink played through illness and injury to win.

“We held it together and I’m really proud of us for pulling through,” she said. “This means a lot and I really think with the way we played this weekend, we deserved it.”

Meanwhile, in the U18 boys’ final, tournament favourite Tyler Tardi of Langley won gold in convincing fashion, defeating Vernon’s Adam Raber 7-3.

Sterling Middleton, the Langley rink’s third, said his team played “full throttle” in the final, but also had some early luck with the opponent missing on shots.

“Once we had our lead, we were just trying to keep things clean and take our opportunities when they were there and I think we did a pretty good job doing that,” he said.

Tardi said it was an exciting tournament and one he’ll remember. Curl B.C. just changed its age divisions this season, so this week’s gold medallists are the first-ever U18 champions.

“It’s a pretty good feeling. I’ll take that any day,” Tardi said. “We got a little fortunate with the age restriction change, so we kind of put [in a team] for fun, but as soon as it started we got a little more competitive.”

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