Team B.C. skip Tyler Tardi and his rink of Sterling Middleton, Matthew Hall and Alex Horvath made history at the 2019 New Holland Canadian Junior Men’s Curling Championships Sunday at the Art Hauser Centre.
After defeating J.T Ryan and Team Manitoba 7-5, Tardi and B.C. won their third straight junior men’s national championship. As a team, that’s never been done before. They won in Victoria, B.C., in 2017, Shawinigan, Que., in 2018 and now Prince Albert, Sask., in 2019.
“It’s hard to pinpoint one that’s the most special,” Tardi said. “The first was unreal because it was the first time. The second, we got to tie some of the great junior curlers like John Morris and all them, and now to pass them, it’s just an unbelievable feeling.”
Tardi and Middleton have been around for all three of the championships. If the lifelong bond wasn’t already forged before then, it sure is now.
“To be doing it with one of my best friends, it’s just extra special,” Tardi said.
But to win their third, B.C. faced a huge challenge in Ryan’s determined Manitoba squad. Ryan was the only team to defeat Tardi in the 10 pool games, doing so on Thursday with a 7-5 decision at the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Club. And he was threatening to do it again on Sunday.
After Tardi scored three in the second after a nice angle-tap to go up 3-0, Ryan responded and flipped the game on its head.
He scored two in the fourth end, a steal of two in the fifth and a single steal in the seventh end to sit with a 5-3 lead heading into the final two ends.
“It was a pretty back and forth game. We got the lead early and they made a ton of shots,” Tardi said. “We kinda let it slip away from us. J.T. made a huge shot to force us to play a draw that I hadn’t thrown all game. Hats off to him making us throw that. We had to grind our way back, and fortunately for us, we did it.”
Then possibly with the shot of the tournament, Tardi scored two by taking out three Manitoba stones for an unlikely double. That tied up the match at 5-5 with one end remaining. Tardi followed that up with steals one of in the ninth and one in the 10th as Ryan’s last rock for the win over-curled and crashed into a rock in the 8-foot.
“I thought I was a little bit wide and heavy, so we called it to have them curl it in there,” Ryan of his last shot. “We overdid it a bit, but that’s on me. I called it too early, I didn’t give it a chance.
“They played unreal and we played one of our best games I’d say we’ve ever played together, too. It just wasn’t enough,” Ryan added. “It was just an inch here or there.”
Now Tardi and Middleton will make their third straight appearance at the world junior championships, having won last year’s in Aberdeen, Scotland in a dramatic 6-5 extra-ender over Scotland’s Ross Whyte. Now, Tardi will represent Canada on Canadian soil Feb. 16-23 in Liverpool, N.S.
On Twitter: @jeff_paNOW
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