Day 1 of the U SPORTS Curling Championships kicked off in Sudbury on Wednesday night, and the sixteen teams competing gave notice that the next four days are going to be some fantastic competition.
On the women’s side, it was the UPEI Panthers, Dalhousie Tigers, Alberta Pandas, and the hometown Laurentian Voyageurs all moving to 1-0 while on the men’s side, the Laurier Golden Hawks, Dalhousie Tigers, Alberta Golden Bears and Queen’s Gaels all found the win column.
The UPEI women found themselves in a defensive battle with the TMU Bold, sitting tied at 1 after the fourth end before the Panthers exploded for 4 in the fifth end to take a 5-1 lead into the break. The break served the Bold well, however, as they came out with a renewed focus, scoring one in both the sixth and seventh ends before stealing 3 in the eighth to grab a 6-5 lead. The Panthers responded with a single in the ninth and proceeded to steal the win with a single in the 10th.
The Dalhousie Tigers found themselves down early after the McMaster Marauders opened with a deuce before stealing one in the second. The Tigers responded with a roar, however, answering with a deuce before forcing the Marauders to a single and scoring a 3 in the fifth to head into the break up 5-4. After the Tigers stole one in the sixth, it was another steal of 2 in the final end that closed the book on a 9-5 win for the AUS champs.
In a battle of Canada West foes, it was the Alberta Pandas avenging their loss to the Victoria Vikes just three weeks ago, downing the Vikes 8-6. After forcing the Vikes to a single, the Pandas responded with 3 of their own to grab the lead. After the teams swapped singles and blanked the next two ends, the Vikes scored a three of their own in the seventh to take a 5-4 lead. The Pandas bounced back with a pair in both the eighth and tenth ends to earn the 8-4 win.
The Laurentian Voyageurs opened their game against the Memorial Sea-Hawks with a pair before Memorial responded with 3. After trading singles, the Voyageurs converted for 3 in the fifth to head into the break with a 6-4 lead. Voyageur steals in each of the seventh, eighth, and ninth ends closed the book on a 9-4 win.
While the women’s draw only saw one game end before the tenth end, only a single men’s game actually made it the distance. In Laurier’s battle against Saint Mary’s, it was a closely contested game, with a Huskies steal countering a Golden Hawks deuce had the teams tied at 3 headed to the fifth end break. Laurier amped up the pressure in the second half and, after steals of 2 in both the seventh and eighth ends, it was a 7-3 for the OUA champions.
In an all-AUS battle, the Dalhousie Tigers used a very strong second half to down the UNB Reds. In a very conservative start, each team scored a single and a deuce to head into the break tied at 3. Coming out of the break, it was all Tigers as they managed to score 2 in the sixth before stealing 3 in the seventh and a single in the eighth, leading to handshakes and a 9-3 win.
For the hometown Voyageurs, it was a case of too little, too late in their game against Alberta. After Alberta opened with a pair, Laurentian managed to blank the next two ends before the Golden Bears stole a single in the fourth. The Voyageurs finally got on the board with a single in the fifth, but Alberta countered with a deuce in the sixth and again in the eighth. After sparking a glimmer of hope by putting 3 on the board in the ninth, the Voyageurs were run out of stone in the final end, and Alberta walked off the ice with a 7-5 win.
In the lone game that went the distance, the Queen’s Gaels and Calgary Dinos began with some fireworks. After forcing the Dinos to a single, the Gaels put up a big 4-spot in the second in an end that saw almost every rock in play. A similar theme followed in the third when Calgary came back with 3 of their own, at which point the teams amped up the pressure, forcing each other to singles the rest of the way. A Gaels steal in the eighth would wind up being the difference as they brought day one to a close with an 8-6 win.
All 16 teams will hit the ice twice tomorrow, with the women kicking things off with draw three at 8:30 am and again in draw five at 4:30 pm while the men begin their day at 12:30 pm and will provide the nightcap in draw six beginning at 8:30 pm.