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REUNITED – Yukon curlers, left to right, Joe Wallingham, Brayden Klassen and Trygg Jensen celebrate their gold-medal winning shot at the 2014 Arctic Winter Games.

Yukon junior curling teams reuniting for nationals

Often curling teams are inseparable and do everything together.

By Dustin Cook on January 10, 2018

Often curling teams are inseparable and do everything together. But that option was not available for two Yukon junior teams who have dispersed throughout the country and will be reuniting for the national championships – some will even be playing competitively together for the first time.

Both the male and female junior team representing the Yukon from the Whitehorse Curling Club will be joining together in Shawinigan, Que. for the 2018 Canadian Junior Curling Championships.

On the female side, first-time skip Kelsey Meger will be leading the team with three other teammates she doesn’t have that much experience playing with competitively, but who played with her sister.

Having no competition in the Yukon tournament, the team was acclaimed and therefore didn’t have to play any lead-up games. Since being formed as a team for this tournament, the team has not actually practiced together under their new skip.

But Meger said growing up together, the team does have a bond and it shouldn’t be too difficult to get into a groove when the competition starts Saturday.

“A lot of people who ask me how I think we’re going to be doing, I’m not going to get my hopes up for the finals, it’s not realistic,” she said. “But I’d like to win a few games, I know that we’ll do OK.”

The team is coached by Kelsey’s father Chris Meger who has been working with the lead and second Zaria Netro and Peyton L’Henaff who are both in Whitehorse. Team third Emily Matthews is also away at school and will be joining the team in Quebec.

Chris Meger said this will be a good experience for the team playing high-level competition as well as an opportunity to travel to a new city they have never visited before.

“Whenever they go to these juniors they meet a lot of new teams,” he said. “They like playing competitively to get out and get some good competition.”

Transitioning to the skip position was a bit of a challenge, Kelsey Meger said, who is also in her last year of junior eligibility.

“The only position available was skip,” she said. “I got a little bit of experience years and years ago, but I wouldn’t be skipping if there was another option.”

The team will play six games in pool play before being divided into the championship and seeding pools.

The male team for the territory has a little bit more experience playing together and has some hardware to show for it.

They won gold at the 2014 Arctic Winter Games and also competed at the 2014 junior nationals. But then the team members and coach Kevin Patterson went off their separate ways, and Patterson said this will be like a reunion for the squad.

Patterson, who is now living in Halifax, will re-join the team for the tournament. He said the team didn’t curl together at all last year as they were spread out throughout the country, but did compete in at least one competition together earlier this season. Other than that, he said he prefers to go in not knowing.

“Oddly it’s a part of my strategy not to know too much, our best shot is as underdogs,” he said. “I tried not to find out too much more, if I do I’ll psych myself out and create expectations for them that might not be manageable.”

The entire team will reunite with Joe Wallingham at skip, Trygg Jensen as the third and brothers Brayden and Will Klassen in the second and lead positions.

Even without recent experience as a team, Patterson said they have history together and will be able to rebuild that bond.

“It’s going to be a quick catchup. Once we get together we’ll figure out what the best action is going to be,” he said.

“We have history together and I think that’s going to trump any challenges we have.”

The men’s team will open their tournament Saturday against the home team from Quebec.

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