After a strong showing at the OUA Championships, Brock Men’s and Women’s Curling took to Kelowna, British Columbia as they earned a berth to the CIS Championships.
After losing the bronze match back in 2015, the men bounced back by winning bronze this year in the OUA. The 7-3 win over Queen’s earned them a berth to the CIS Championships alongside OUA team’s Laurier and Waterloo.
“Winning OUA bronze a month ago helped us prove to ourselves that we earned our [spot in the CIS] and it gave us some confidence,” said Murray Etherington, the head coach of Brock’s Men’s Curling.
Brock Women’s team, they won the OUA silver medal for the second consecutive year after a loss to Laurier in the OUA Championships. Guelph would be the third OUA women’s team joining Brock and Laurier at the CIS Championships as the OUA bronze medalist.
“At the OUAs, the women played very well and were very deserving of our second place finish and gaining a berth at the CIS,” said Ken Sandham, the head coach of Brock’s Women’s Curling. The Women’s team also had two new players on its starting four this year, which forced their two returning players to play and learn a different position.
The four day event began on March 20, as Brock men would open play versus OUA silver medalist Waterloo. The men came out strong, but a strong fifth end by Waterloo had the Badgers trailing by a score of 6-2. However, five total points in the sixth and seventh end helped the Badgers edge the Warriors 10-8.
The Badgers would then fall to Alberta by a score of 10-3, as Brock ended the first day with a 1-1 record. On day two, Brock would lose to Victoria 11-6, edge Dalhousie 8-7 and ended the day with a 9-4 loss to Laurier.
Heading into the third day of preliminary play, the Badgers needed two wins to advance to the medal rounds. The men came out strong to pick up an 8-2 win over the University of British Columbia and a 7-4 win over Saint Mary’s, which clinched a spot to the CIS semi-finals for the Badgers.
“The focus on the final day of round robin was outstanding,” said Etherington. “The guys were very calm and confident in their abilities to go out and execute. They knew if they played to their capabilities good things would happen and they did.”
The semi-finals would pit the Badgers against Alberta (who went 7-0 in preliminary play), and Victoria would play Laurier in the other match. For the Badgers, it was a tough start versus Alberta, as seven early points lifted the Golden Bears to a 9-3 win. Laurier would pick up a win over Victoria 6-4, meaning the Badgers would play for bronze versus the Vikes.
Unfortunately, the Vikes picked up multiple points in the fifth and seventh end during the bronze medal match, which lifted them to a 7-3 win over the Badgers.
“The men were definitely disappointed at not winning the bronze medal game,” said Etherington. “Once we met our goal of making the CIS playoffs, we reassessed and set a new goal of winning a medal.
Following the loss, the guys immediately started talking about next season and some unfinished business.”
It was a great showing for the men all week as they proved to be a dominate team in the CIS. After a tough OUA bronze medal loss in 2015, the Badger men bounced back this year to win OUA bronze and finished fourth at the CIS Championships.
Etherington had been coaching the women’s team over the last few years before making the shift to the men’s side this year. The coach was impressed with all five of the Brock men curlers: Eric Bradey, Jonah Mondloch, Ryan Brown, Jamie Waters and Ben Hughes. Bradey has been the leader on the team and is on the list of possible Brock Male Athlete of the Year candidates – he plays for Brock Men’s Soccer as well.
“Bradey’s leadership abilities on the ice during the game and strategically mapping out our game-plan is growing more at every competition,” said Etherington. “He leaves it all on the ice and competes hard, but after the game he leaves it at the rink, so you wouldn’t know if we won or lost.”
Over on the women’s side, day one was not the start the Badgers wanted as they would lose to fellow OUA team Guelph 5-3. Day one would conclude with another 5-3 loss to Dalhousie for the Badgers, but a chance at a CIS medal was not yet over for Brock.
“We started slow, but had some very good positives in the first four games,” said Sandham. “The first two games were very close and could have gone either way, but unfortunately, we didn’t get the favourable results.”
On day two the Badgers picked up an 8-4 win over UNB, but two earlier losses on the day to Brandon University and Alberta put them at a 1-4 record. However, on the final day of preliminary play the Badgers picked up a 7-2 win over Thompson Rivers and a 9-7 win over Laurier.
The most impressive victory for the Badgers was against the Golden Hawks, as Brock had previously lost two straight OUA titles to Laurier. The win over Thompson Rivers was also huge for Brock as the WolfPack’s had won the CIS silver medal the last two years, and had a Canadian Junior Champion player on their team.
“The win against Laurier is our first against them in quite a few years and after losing the OUA final to them the last two years, it shows the team we can win,” said Sandham. “The results bode well for our future as the players gained a ton of experience to help us in the next few years.”
The women’s team leader Terri Weeks’ was named as a candidate for Brock Female Athlete of the Year this past week, as she has been valuable for the Badgers in just her second year. Weeks and teammate Lauren Calvert were named to the OUA second team all-stars, while Sam Morris was named CIS second team all-star.
“[Weeks] is our leader, and she’s the one that never gets down on herself or her teammates,” said Sandham. “When she elevates her game, it brings the other players up as well, which is what happened in the last three games.”
Overall, on the men side Laurier would go onto win the CIS Championship with a 7-4 win over Alberta. For the women, Alberta would win the CIS Championship with a 5-4 win over Thompson Rivers, and Guelph would win CIS bronze with an 11-7 win over Dalhousie.
“Ken and I would like to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of all the athletes and coaches of the Brock Badgers Curling program,” said Etherington. “Everyone helped prepare the varsity teams for the OUA and CIS Championships, and everyone supported their teammates at every competition. They are the reason that these programs are so successful.”
“A Curling Canada official said that it’s no coincidence that the only three universities with a High Performance curling program have both a men’s and women’s team at CIS (Alberta, Laurier and Brock),” said Etherington.