New-look juniors aim for medals once again
game for the full game and Frappier’s going to play on Friday night for the full game. We’re young in the net, but in saying that, they’re battling, and that’s all we want. With (goaltending coach) Alain Valiquette here, I leave a lot of it up to him, talking to the goalies and teaching with them, but as long as they can come every night and give us an opportunity to win a hockey game, that’s all I ask.”
That’s what Frappier intends to do. Sudbury’s sixth-round pick in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, the 17-year-old from Nepean, Ont. spent last season with the Nepean Raiders of the Central Canada Hockey League and, after a solid showing in training camp, feels he’s adjusting well to major junior. See | B2 coaches’ review. It’s a very short timeline but necessarily so. Any lengthening of confirmation deadlines would serve to shorten an already short season, a fact that all those involved fully appreciate. The goal of course is to be as organized as possible, while still hosting enough games to make the experience educational and enjoyable for all those concerned.
That time of year has arrived where the elite of the curling world anxiously step on to the ice for the first time, with early season bonspiels providing a helpful barometer of off-season progress. This litmus test becomes even more critical when the core roster of a team has undergone a major overhaul.
With both Krysta Burns and Laura Masters aging out from the U21 ranks this fall, the tandem of Megan Smith and Sara Guy had no choice but to welcome a new pair of teammates if they wished to target a season that comes anywhere close to the very memorable 201617 campaign they enjoyed.
Keep in mind that the quarter of Burns, Smith, Guy and Masters not only claimed bronze at the Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Victoria, but accentuated their run of success with a first ever CIS/U Sports crown in Thunder Bay, as the squad remained intact while representing the Laurentian Voyageurs in action.
Given that these openings were undoubtedly coveted in the local ranks, it came as very little surprise that the revamped Team Smith features a pair of additions with ultra-impressive resumes in the form of Kira Brunton and Kate Sherry. The newcomers were part of the Sudbury Curling Club rink that claimed gold at the inaugural Canadian U18 Curling Championships last April in Moncton.
While there will be much change with the quasi-defending NOCA junior champions, there is some stability at the helm, as coach Rodney Guy was asked to return for another year.
“I kind of thought, at this point, that I would be kind of retired,” he said with a laugh, catching up this week on the heels of his team’s participation in the KitchenerWaterloo Royal Slam.
Despite working alongside one half of his team for a decade or more, Guy acknowledged that the new dynamics add a twist of their own to the mix.
“It’s tough – I’m just as nervous as they are,” he said. “Through the years, with Krysta, I knew how to prepare for the season, because I knew those kids so well. With Kira and Kate, I have to be a little more structured.”
“Strategy-wise, we’re a very similar team,” Guy added. “Those kids are way ahead of their time.”
One added bonus this time around comes courtesy of the team’s acceptance into the Next Generation program, allowing the local crew to work hand in hand with mentor coach Maurice Wilson. Needless to say, the wellrespected Level 3 coach who has worked with countless provincialand national-calibre rinks provides a wonderful sounding board for Guy and his foursome.
More than anything else, there is an awareness of the subtle differences that is key.
“I’ve spent hours writing out notes, little things like the times they want to hear in the hack,” explained Guy. “Kira and Kate are used to hog to hog times, where we used to do split times – little things like that. But the first game they went out there, you would have thought they have played together for years.”
The Sudbury reps posted a round robin record of 3-2, earning a berth in the quarter-final before dropping a 7-4 decision to Marie-Elaine Little from Ottawa.
“I was impressed,” said Guy. “Clearly, experience comes into play, especially with players taking on different roles – Kate going from vice to lead, Kira stepping down to vice, allowing Megan to call the game, Megan stepping back and allowing Kira to throw last rocks. Sara is the only one who stays in position, but it’s a different team for her, too.” See | B2