The Dalhousie University Tigers men’s and women’s curling teams clinched titles in the 2020 Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Curling Championships held at the CFB Halifax Curling Club from Feb. 6-9. The tournament was hosted by Saint Mary’s University.
On the women’s side, the Tigers went undefeated for the second year in a row, capping off play with a 7-4 victory over the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds in the championship game.
“This win actually feels better than last year,” said Tigers’ skip Kristin Clarke. This is her final season curling with Dalhousie, but she is the only returning member of the 2019 women’s team. Her teammates this year earned their first AUS titles.
“It’s about being relaxed and having a good perspective,” said Dal’s third thrower Lindsey Burgess. “Most of us don’t get too riled up about misses. We just laugh them off and make sure we make the next [shots better]. The relaxed attitude allowed us to do well.”
Kate Callaghan, Sarah Gierling and Madison Johnson round out the women’s roster. They are coached by Mike Callaghan.
The men’s Tigers defeated the Memorial University Sea Hawks 9-2 in the final of the men’s bracket. The win was the third consecutive AUS championship for the Dal men’s team.
“Toward the end [of the tournament], we started to pick up our game. The last game was played really clean, so there’s not really a better way to end it,” said Owen Purcell, who throws third.
The Tigers were undefeated in last year’s tournament, but faced a stiff challenge this year when the Sea Hawks beat them in a round-robin game. That set the stage for a highly-anticipated final.
The two teams have become rivals as of late. Along with two meetings this year, they battled in the semi-finals of last year’s U Sports Curling Championships, where Memorial came out on top.
Purcell stressed the level of competition faced throughout the week, especially with the first Memorial game in mind.
“Whenever we’re playing in a tournament like this, [the competition] is difficult. We play against a lot of the same people that we play against in the regular season, so it’s close. We know that we have to play well every time we come out onto the ice,” Purcell said.
“We were shooting lights-out in today,” added first thrower Adam McEachren after the win. He is the men’s team’s lone rookie. “We played a lot better and didn’t make the mistakes we made last time. We got the score up early and kept the lead.”
Purcell and McEachren are joined by Jeffrey Meagher and skip Matthew Manuel to form the club. Anthony Purcell is their coach.
Dalhousie scored five points in the second end of the final against Memorial. Scoring that many points in a single end is a rare, impressive feat in curling. Eight ends are played in an AUS curling game.
Both of Dalhousie’s teams secured their spot in the 2020 U Sports Curling Championships in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. The men’s Sea Hawks and women’s Varsity Reds also qualified. The AUS sends the top two teams in each division to nationals each year.
Dal is yet to take home any banners on the national level since the first nationals took place in 2008. Last year, the men’s and women’s teams placed fourth and third, respectively. Clarke said that things are going to change result-wise.
“We had some misfortune with losses in the past, but this year I think will be the breakthrough year. I’m confident we’re going to represent Dal well,” Clarke said.
Owen Purcell, who also has nationals experience under his belt, is already preparing for the March tournament in Manitoba.
“It’s just working. Keeping up with practicing and shooting rocks, and good things will happen,” he said.