Both Sudbury entries at the 2018 Canadian U-18 Curling Championships have safely navigated their way through to the playoff round.
Returning the exact same roster that captured gold at the inaugural national playdowns one year ago, the Curl Sudbury quartet of Jacob Horgan (skip), Max Cull (vice), Nicholas Bissonnette (second) and Shane Robinson (lead) have looked more than ready to defend their title this week in beautiful St. Andrews, New Brunswick.
With victories over Liam Marin of New Brunswick (8-3) on Wednesday and Dawson Ballard of British Columbia (11-5) on Thursday, the Horgan rink wrapped up their Pool "B" round robin schedule with a flawless 5-0 record.
Interestingly enough, the Northern Ontario champs have posted ever-increasing margins of victory, winning by one (game #1), three (game #2), four (game #3), five (game #4) and six (game #5), the last one thanks in large part to a five-point fifth end versus their West Coast opponents.
The top seeds now advance to a double knockout format that saw the locals open Friday morning (April 13) at 8:00 a.m. opposite Ryan Jacques of Alberta. Jacques and his squad were one of three teams to finish at 3-2 in Pool "A", but drew the fourth seed thanks to the tie-breaking format in use.
The Idylwylde Golf & Country Club crew of Bella Croisier (skip), Jamie Smith (vice), Lauren Rajala (second) and Piper Croisier slipped in just one spot below Team Horgan, earning a second place finish in their pool with a record of 4-2.
Unbeaten in their first three encounters, the Northern Ontario girls lost to Ryleigh Bakker of Alberta (7-3) in the Wednesday evening draw, but bounced back to earn a split on Thursday, besting Annkatrin Perron of Quebec (5-3) but falling 6-4 to Vanessa Roy of New Brunswick in a pair of tightly contested encounters.
The first playoff matchup for the Sudbury girls will pit them against another team with a 4-2 record, battling Skylar Ackerman of Saskatchewan beginning at 11:30 a.m. on Friday.
Regardless of the outcome of their first game on Friday, both the Horgan and Croisier rinks will take to the ice for a second time later in the day, needing to secure at least one victory to remain alive on Saturday.