Habkirk sweeps competition for provincial gold
Coquitlam’s Team Habkirk are ‘rock stars’ on the provincial curling scene this year.
Fresh off their win at the high school curling provincials last week, the boys took gold at the Tim Hortons BC Juvenile Curling Championships in Prince George this past weekend.
Team Habkirk — made up of skip Kyle Habkirk, third Nicholas Umbach, second Ryan Harbrink and lead Kento Sato — got off to a slow start at the beginning of the tournament. Despite winning the first game, coach Debbie Carroll said the boys played a little too relaxed.
Next up, in round-play, the team took on North Shore Winter Club’s Jay Ueda, giving up a four ender in the seventh end. Down 7-5, going into the last end with the hammer, team Habkirk managed to tie up the game. But, in the extra end, without the hammer, there was no opportunity for them to steal. Ueda won the game, 9-7.
Carroll said afterwards she sat the boys down for a pep talk.
“I told them ‘You guys have all the tools,’” said Carroll. “I didn’t think the communication was where it should be. I said, ‘Find that energy that you guys had in the juniors and high school championships.’”
The 7-0 score after five ends of play in the semi-final game against team Carpenter signaled that Team Habkirk was re-energized, but perhaps feeling a little too comfortable with their lead.
“In the six end, they didn’t make a strategy change to defense,” recalled Carroll. “They were on such a roll that in the sixth end they gave up three.”
In the seventh end, with a berth in the finals now hanging in the balance, Habkirk called for Sato to put his rocks in the rings after team Carpenter had put up a centre guard. Carroll reminded her team to switch to a defensive strategy. Habkirk ran Carpenter out of the rocks in the eight end, winning the game, 7-4.
The final game saw Habkirk matched up with Bartlett from Grand Forks, a team which they had beat 10-2 in round-robin play.
In the fourth end, after already gaining a point, Habkirk missed a tricky tap back for second point. Then, in the next end, Bartlett jammed on a final rock, missing a deuce.
Habkirk sailed into the final end with a four point lead and won the game, 7-3.
“I don’t think any of us could believe it,” said Carroll of the moments after the gold medal win. “It’s like, we are now Team BC. I had tears again in my eyes because you are just so happy for them.”
The team’s emotions were already running high after last week’s win, not to mention this is Habkirk’s last year in juvenile curling, added Carroll.
Immediately after the game, Team Habkirk was fitted for Team BC jackets and T-shirts. The boys from Coquitlam will now be representing B.C. in the Optimist International U-18 Curling Championships being held in Surrey and Langley from March 27-31.
Even though the tournament is a stone’s throw away from their homes, team Habkirk will be staying at the host hotel in Langley. Aside from competition, the week-long event will also feature curling clinics and entertainment.
“It’s almost like a mini Brier for the boys,” said Carroll.
In their draw, Habkirk will see teams from Manitoba, Japan, Washington State, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.
“I’m nervous. Manitoba and Saskatchewan, all they do back there is curl,” laughed Carroll.