GUELPH, Ontario - With the OUA curling medals and trophies set up at the entrance of the Guelph Curling Club all week long, each and every athlete that walked through the doors were able to see their dreams and goals sitting right there, just mere inches in front of them. Once five grueling days of competition concluded, and the final rock came to rest, it was the Laurier Golden Hawks and McMaster Marauders having those dreams turn in to reality.
Claiming the gold medal in the men’s bracket, the Laurier Golden Hawks continued to showcase their dominance in the OUA curling scene. Led by Skip Matt Hall, Third John Willsey, Second Jordie Lyon-Hatcher, Lead Graham Singer and Alternate Adam Vincent, the Hawks recorded their fourth OUA title in the last six years.
Going 6-1 during round robin play, good for second place in Pool ‘A’, Laurier then went on to defeat Queen’s 8-4 in the quarter-finals before taking down the hometown Guelph Gryphons 5-3 in the semi’s setting them up for a gold medal date with the Brock Badgers. Although the Hawks did not get off to the start they would have liked, they were able to flip the switch heading into the 4th end and flip the game back in their favour. Trailing 1-0 after one, Hall’s draw facing two Brock stones came up light giving the Badgers a 3-0 lead. However, after Laurier blanked the 3rd end, they came back with a big score of three in the 4th to suddenly tie the game up heading into the break. From there, momentum took to the side of Laurier and they began to take over. Picking up single point steals in the 5th, 6th and 7th ends, the Hawks carried a 6-3 advantage into the final end. Although Brock was able to create a couple of chances in the 8th, Laurier was able to keep them from scoring the needed three points.
“We just got together after we found ourselves down 3-0 and did what we could to adjust to what we were seeing on the ice,” said Golden Hawk’s skip Matt Hall. “We knew we just had to stay within ourselves and trust our own abilities. From there we just took the game one end at a time and we were able to get a couple of shots going and then we were able to turn it up.”
Using the experience of their team to help navigate through the adversity that came upon them, the Golden Hawks were able to pull together in the key moments of the final and were ultimately rewarded.
“Our motto all week was just playing it one game at a time and one end at a time,” said Laurier head coach Matt Wilkinson. “We very easily could have fallen apart after the start of the final game, but the experience of these guys showed knowing that one missed shot wasn’t going to determine the game.”
Meanwhile, on the women’s side of the draw, the McMaster Marauders were able to put an end to a lengthy gold medal drought. Defeating the Queen’s Gaels in the OUA championship game 7-5, the Marauders won their first gold since 1995.
Going undefeated all week long, the Marauders showed game after game that they were the best team in Guelph. Finishing the round robin a perfect 7-0, McMaster only once played in a game that saw them win by less than three points. Then once the playoffs rolled around, the team from Hamilton took down the Carleton Ravens 5-2 in the quarter-finals and then defeated the Laurier Golden Hawks 4-2 in the semi-finals.
Meeting up with the defending OUA champion Queen’s Gaels in the gold medal game, the Marauders were able to establish control early in the contest en route to a 7-5 victory. After taking a single point in the opening end, McMaster then stole another point in the 2nd before forcing the Gaels to one in the 3rd. Heading into the 4th-end break the Marauders scored another point to hold a 3-1 advantage. After Queen’s was able to tie the game in the 5th with a pair, McMaster picked up a big three points in six, taking a 6-3 lead with only two ends to go. Despite Queen’s being able to get two points back heading into the 8th, the Marauders hung on down the stretch to secure the championship win.
“It feels incredible,” said Marauder’s skip Madelyn Warriner following her teams victory. “We are absolutely over the moon and so proud of all of the work we have put in so far this season.”
“Playing the defending champions we really just focused on playing our game and focused only on what we could control.”
Warriner, along with teammates Kaelyn Gregory, Grace Lloyd, Madison Fisher and Dannielle Hudson showed very few weakness all throughout the week and in the end left the Guelph Curling Club OUA champions.
“We’re pretty excited right now,” said Marauder’s head coach John Gregory. “The girls worked very hard all year to get this and now they’ve got it.”
Both squads will now get ready to head to Portage la Prairie, Manitoba for the U SPORTS Curling Championship to be played March 11-15. Joining them will be the other four medalling teams from the OUA including the Brock Badgers (silver) on the mens side and the Queen’s Gaels (silver) on the women’ side.
Meanwhile with two other spots up for grabs to get to nationals, the two bronze medal games also carried a ton of importance. Using scores of two in the 2nd and 4th ends, along with a three in the 7th, the Guelph Gryphons went on to win the men’s bronze over the Toronto Varsity Blues 7-3. While in the women’s bracket, the Laurier Golden Hawks used a four in the 4th and a steal of two one end later to take down the Guelph Gryphons 8-1 and punch their ticket to the national tournament.
Lead- Colin Schnurr (Queen’s)
Second- Jordie Lyon-Hatcher (Laurier)
Third- John Willsey (Laurier)
Skip- Cameron Goodkey (Carleton)
Lead- Kenna Bartlett (Queen’s)
Second- Laura Masters (Waterloo)
Third- Kaelyn Gregory (McMaster)
Skip- Mary Fay (Queen’s)