(LEDUC, AB) - (U SPORTS) – The UNB Varsity Reds captured the bronze medal at the 2018 U SPORTS men’s curling championship, in Leduc, Alberta.
The Jack Smeltzer rink, with lead Alex Gallant, second Evan MacKnight and third Trevor Crouse, scored a 7-5 win over the Waterloo Warriors in the third place game.
After falling behind 3-0 after three ends, the Varsity Reds rallied. They scored a pair in the fourth end and two more in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead.
The two sides traded singles in the seventh and eighth ends, with Waterloo scoring another single in the ninth end to tie the score 5-5.
UNB, with the advantage of last rock, scored two in the tenth for the win.
Smeltzer curled 87% in the bronze medal game, out-dueling Waterloo skip John Willsey, who curled 73%.
“It’s great,” said Smeltzer, of the national championship medal. “Coming into this week, we were all rookies at a national event and we were coming in hoping to get one or two wins, but we held our own against the very best and came out with the bronze.”
The University of Alberta Golden Bears, who beat the Varsity Reds in Tuesday’s semi-finals, won the national championship, scoring a 6-4 win over the Winnipeg Wesmen.
“We played very well the last two games,” said Smeltzer. “Even though we lost the semi, we carried the momentum into the bronze medal game.”
“After losing our first game to Brock, we certainly weren’t expecting to play on the last day,” said UNB second Evan MacKnight. “We didn’t have a perfect record this week, but we won when it counted.”
“Besides our semi-final game against Alberta, who was better prepared for the game than we were, I think we won where it mattered and it all came together in the last game,” said MacKnight.
Alberta won the women’s championship too, sweeping the national banners in front of a largely home crowd.
The Pandas beat Thompson Rivers 6-3 to earn the women’s title, while the Brock Badgers won the bronze medal on the women’s side of the bonspiel.
This is the second time in school history that the University of Alberta has captured both U SPORTS men and women’s curling titles in the same year.
The two Alberta rinks earn the right to represent Canada at the 2019 Winter Universiade, in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.