It was a clean sweep for the Smithers Secondary boys’ curling team after they went undefeated to win the provincial championships for the first time in two decades in Creston over the weekend.
It was an impressive weekend for the team, which included skip Glyn Doyle, Adam Hartnett at third, second Sean Turney, lead Matthew Steventon and Evan Doyle as fifth.
They were the only team to go 7-0 at the Creston Curling Centre during the tournament.
“It was a team performance, that’s what the biggest part was,” said head coach Laurence Turney. “They just knew they had to play as well as they could and when one person faltered a bit, the rest of the team picked it up and continued on.”
For seniors Doyle and Hartnett, who made their fifth and final appearance at provincials this year, the win was years in the making.
“For me, it’s been five years that we’ve been trying to win this so it’s very exciting for us,” said Doyle. “My team played amazing.”
Hartnett echoed Doyle’s excitement.
“It’s kind of a surreal feeling,” he said. “It’s our last year in high school, so it’s a nice feeling to win. It still hasn’t really kicked in yet that we won.”
Nerves ran high at the start of the tournament on Saturday, as the Gryphons took on Centennial Secondary School from the Lower Mainland in the first draw.
Centenntial was up 3-1 at the beginning of the fifth end, but Smithers responded with a triple to take the advantage.
“We changed strategies halfway through the first game,” said Doyle. “We came in getting the rocks in the rings and then putting up guards. We switched to putting up guards and then putting rocks in the rings.”
That change in strategy helped them pull off the win 7-4.
“We knew [Centennial] was going to be tough. That was the one they were the most worried about,” said Turney. “Once they got into a rhythm, it was smooth sailing. We had a few hiccups, but it didn’t seem to bother us much.”
And smooth sailing it was.
The team went on to defeat Kwalikum Secondary 6-3, Lord Tweedsmuir 9-2, Kelowna Secondary 8-1, David Thompson 10-2, Grand Forks Secondary 9-7 and Fraser Lake Secondary 13-4.
“Our front end was pretty much better than any other team there,” said Hartnett.
The team has been to provincials for five consecutive years (they finished third last year), but had not won since 1995.
According toTurney, the team was more mentally and physically prepared this year.
“We didn’t think we were overconfident. We didn’t even talk about winning until the seventh game when we were saying ‘I think we can do it now’,” said Turney.
“Every game was we’re going to work hard and play as best [we] can and that’s what they did.”
For the seniors on the team, the win was a fairy tale end to a near-perfect season, and for the juniors, it was a learning experience.
“It’ll be interesting to see what it’s like with two newer players next year on the team, but it will help us a lot to know what it’s like to be in these larger tournaments and to be able to focus on seven or eight consecutive games,” said Steventon.
Turney noted that even teams from down south were impressed with their performance.
“The fact that we went seven straight was pretty impressive to some of the coaches,” he said. “We had a lot of comments from coaches saying we definitely had a good skill set and were definitely prepared.”