A long distance relationship has paid off for a pair of junior Victoria curlers.
Sanjay Bowry and Corey Chester of the Victoria Curling Club played second and third, respectively, with lead Rhys Gamache and skip Tyler Klymchuk of the Langley Curling Club.
And it all paid off as the quartet captured the Tim Horton’s junior men’s provincial championship (20-and-under), Jan. 1 to Jan. 6 at the Coquitlam Curling Club.
“That was definitely one of the goals that we set for ourselves at the start of the year,” Klymchuk said. “We have put in a lot of hard work, a lot of ferry trips, and it definitely feels good to win.”
Coaching the quartet is Victoria’s Todd Troyer, who was with Chester and Josh Hozak last year, when the Victoria Curling Club team won B.C.’s and went to nationals. Klymchuk went to junior nationals the year before.
“I’ve been playing against (Klymchuk) all my competitive career and I’ve always respected his game play on and off the ice, so when my teammates from last year aged out, it was obvious to me to get together,” Chester said. “It’s our last crack at juniors, we’ve been playing long enough to have the passion to want to be better.”
Meshing teams from separate districts isn’t common in junior but it has happened before. If anything, it’s a sign of how competitive the sport has become.
“I’ve seen traveling teams put together before but I’m not sure they were as dedicated to traveling and training together as we are,” Chester said.
That dedication comes from a motivation to do more than just show up at nationals. The last time a B.C. team won the men’s junior nationals was 2000, so the Klymchuk rink is off to as good a start as any. They went undefeated in all seven games of the provincial round robin. In the final they took an early lead against Langley Curling Club’s Tardi rink and never looked back, prevailing 9-4.
“(Chester) made a real key triple in the second end to leave us lying four in the house,” Klymchuk said.
The Klymchuk rink will now spend the next three weeks preparing for the junior national curling championships, Feb. 2 to Feb. 10 in Fort McMurray, Alta.
It’s been a long haul for the team to this point, literally. They originally formed in April when their respective teammates aged out. This fall the schedule has taken on a pretty regular routine, during which the team become weekly B.C. Ferries commuters. Bowry and Chester go to New Westminst
er on Wednesdays so the team can play in Royal City’s Premium League, the top league in B.C. On Sundays, Klymchuk and Gamache sail to Victoria on the early ferry, train with the team all day, and then return home.
“New West’s league is a step up for sure, the calibre is awesome,” Chester said. “And that was one of our goals, to get out there to play the best competition in the province, men or junior, so it’s a good fit for us.”
In addition to New West the Klymchuk rink entered three World Curling Tour tournaments this season, the Cloverdale Cash Spiel in September, Valley First Crown of Curling in Kamloops in October, and Vancouver Island Shootout here in Victoria back in November. While the team didn’t crack any purse money, they used the tourney’s a chance to bond. They also had some notable moments, particularly a big first-round win against Edmonton’s Jamie King in Kamloops, a team with former world champions Scott Pfeiffer and Blake McDonald.
Locally, Bowry and Chester play on the Steve Streiffel rink in VCC’s Tuesday night Select League.
“(Chester and Klymchuk) set up the team and invited me along for the ride,” said Troyer. The coach is one who knows what the Klymchuk rink is up against, as he won the 1988 national championship with the Mike Wood rink from North Vancouver.
“This team has high expectations because (Chester) went to nationals last year, and Klymchuk went the year before, so there was additional pressure for them to fight through to get back to nationals this year,” Troyer said.
Troyer himself is in the midst of a busy year. The chartered accountant also volunteers as the Victoria Curling Club treasurer, and is vice chair of this spring’s Ford World Men’s Curling Championships in Victoria.
The Katherine Silversides rink of the Juan de Fuca Curling Club represented the South Island in the junior women’s provincials in Coquitlam. The team Silversides team, with third Dallyce Gillespie, second Brooke Capron and lead Sydney Brilz, won just one of the seven the round robin games.
– with files from Gary Ahuja/Langley Times