Team Sask finishes in third; Manitoba off to the finals

By Jeff D'Andrea
January 26, 2019 - 10:23pm

They'll want it to last just one more day, but Rylan Kleiter and Team Saskatchewan won’t soon forget their experience at the 2019 New Holland Junior Men’s Curling Championships.

The Kleiter rink, featuring Trevor Johnson, Joshua Mattern and Matthieu Taillon, finished in third place in their third junior national tournament. 

They fell in the semifinals on Saturday night at the Art Hauser Centre, 9-3 to J.T. Ryan and Team Manitoba. Ryan will move on to the finals at 3 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre to take on B.C.’s Tyler Tardi.

Kleiter and company played in front of very Sask-friendly crowd that floods the rinks every time they play. Afterall, they play only about an hour away at the Sutherland Curling Club in Saskatoon.

“It’s been unbelievable, especially when you make shots and the crowd just goes wild,” Kleiter said. “It just gives us the energy over the other teams.”

Kleiter finished the tournament with an 8-3 record. The only teams he lost to are the teams still alive in the tournament. Ryan and Manitoba defeated Kleiter twice in a row, 9-3 in the semifinals on Saturday and 10-4 in their last Championship Pool game on Friday.

On Saturday, Kleiter and Team Saskatchewan had the hammer for all of the first six ends against Manitoba, but still trailed 2-1.

Ryan got steals of one in both the second and fifth ends. In the sixth end, Kleiter had a chance for two but didn’t get enough curl on his last hit, resulting in one point after a measurement.

The first multi-point end of the night came in the seventh when Manitoba scored three to take a 5-1 lead. After Kleiter clipped a rock on his way for a hit, Ryan successfully drew for three.

Kleiter answered with a two-ender in the eighth, making a difficult triple bump back to score pair and get right back in the game at 5-3.

But Ryan was able to score four in the ninth, leading to handshakes to end play.

“I’d say early on, we’d like to get a few more rocks in play. Things weren’t working well,” Kleiter said. “Hats off to them, they played really well—making run-backs. They didn’t give us much room.”

Ryan rink off to the finals

Ryan will head into the finals with a daunting proposition, beat the Tyler Tardi rink who’s won the last two national junior championships, and last year’s world junior championship in Aberdeen, Scotland.

But Ryan does have one big feather in his cap; he’s the only team to beat Tardi at this tournament. Ryan beat Tardi 7-4 on Thursday at the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Club.

“I think the big thing is, it’s a final so we can feel good about beating him, because obviously we know that we can beat him,” Ryan said. “We’ll try to go do it again, but he’s a world champion. We’ll see what happens.

“They’re probably not going to miss a lot tomorrow, so that means we’ll have to do the same thing. Even though we do have experience playing in games like this, it’s nothing like this. Tyler’s been there, done that… We’re going to have to control our nerves and make a couple shots.”

Last year, Ryan finished in third place at the junior men’s nationals, and was 7-4 in 2017.

On Twitter: @jeff_paNOW

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