The NAIT womens curling team came away from the CCAA national championships with a bronze medal last weekend at Olds College.
This matches the third place finish from last year’s tournament for the women while the men couldn’t repeat the silver finish from 2014 and ended up out of the meals for the first time since 2012. The men, under skip Matt Brown, walked away with a disappointing 3-4 record, not good enough to qualify for the playoff round.
Early portion of the tournament was a long one for both teams. Thursday’s schedule had both squads play at 8:30 in the morning and the evening.
“It was a long day but no one was complaining,” said head coach Jules Owchar. “Not everyone gets to go to Nationals.”
On the women’s side, the Ooks finished the round-robin play with a 5-2 record, good enough to set them up for a semifinal match against Fanshawe College. However, NAIT came up short of playing in the gold medal final as the Falcons defeated the Ooks 6-3. The loss relegated the women to a third-place bronze finish. The Falcons went on to slide past Humber College 4-2 to win the national championship. However, that wasn’t all the hardware the women brought back to NAIT, as Ooks lead Katie Roskewich was named to the women’s first all-star team. In the end, the Ooks women’s rink is still happy to bring home a medal from Nationals.
“It is a good feeling to medal for sure,” said Ooks skip Karynn Flory. “I know it’s not the one we wanted, obviously, but we were the only Alberta team to medal, so it’s something to be proud of, for sure.”
In round-robin play, the men had a tough first match against their Avonair Curling Club rivals, MacEwan University, dropping the game 7-5. After that, the men just couldn’t get some of their crucial shots to go their way in the remaining games. Despite not qualifying for the playoffs, the Ooks men’s skip, Matt Brown, was still pleased with his team’s effort.
“Overall, the team played very well and had we gotten a few more breaks, we could have been in the playoffs very easily,” he said.
“Both teams played well,” added Owchar. “This was the most competitive Nationals in my time here.”
Next year, both squads return several players and look to get back to the podium. The road back isn’t an easy one, but the Ooks are up for the challenge.
“Next year only the Top 3 go, so that adds some pressure,” said Owchar. “But it’s always competitive at Provincials. We have a couple of good rookies coming and could be really good next year.”
By Kevin Maher