Hawks run table at OUA Championship to become third school to win three straight banners
Laurier: 5 Queen’s – Gold Medal Match: 3
OSHAWA, Ont. – The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s curling team capped a dominant performance at the OUA Championship with a 5-3 victory over the Queen’s Gaels in the gold medal match to capture the team’s third consecutive conference banner.
The win capped off another impressive week at the provincial championships, hosted by the UOIT Ridgebacks and the Oshawa Golf and Curling Club, for the purple and gold. For the second straight year they went undefeated, winning all 10 games they played and in the process became the third university to win three straight OUA titles.
The Hawks, featuring skip Matthew Hall of Kitchener, Ont., vice Jordie Lyon-Hatcher of Ottawa, second Kenneth Malcolmson of Toronto, lead Russell Cuddie of London, Ont., and alternate Jeffrey Wanless of Aurora, Ont., joined the Waterloo Warriors (1983-85) and the Windsor Lancers (1977-79) as they only teams to accomplish the feat.
“It means a lot (to me),” said Hall after the victory. “I take pride in curling for Laurier and I knew that we had big shoes to fill. There was a lot of pressure on us to keep the good times rolling. I honestly couldn’t have thought of a better week for our guys to play. They really rose to the occasion.”
Making their fourth straight appearance in the championship match, the Hawks had a clear game plan to be aggressive from the start and it paid off in the first end. A key jam by Queen’s allowed the Hawks to score a pair with hammer and grab a quick 2-0 lead over the Gaels.
“We knew that we had played well being aggressive early on and we knew that if we got even a small miss out of them, which we did, that we were going to try and pounce on it and sort of crack one early and ride momentum from there,” said Hall of the team’s strategy in the final.
With momentum and a lead on their side, Laurier continued to execute and didn’t allow Queen’s to set up anything to their liking in the next three ends, forcing the Gaels to blank, which left the Hawks up 2-0 at the fourth end break.
In the fifth end, the Gaels finally got things going and scored a pair to even the match at two.
Laurier quickly responded in the sixth as a great double from Hall, who was named an OUA Second Team All-Star, scored another pair for the Hawks, giving them a 4-2 lead.
The Hawks continued to execute in the seventh, forcing Queen’s to just a single point with their final draw, giving them the hammer coming home in the eighth end and a one-point advantage.
The final end saw the Gaels put the pressure on Laurier as Hall faced three with his final rock. However, with the four-foot wide open, the 2017 Canadian Junior semifinalist was calm under pressure and drew to the button, giving Laurier their ninth conference championship.
“You know, I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have a few lucky breaks along the way but every game, no matter how we won it or how it turned out, we took it as a learning experience,” added Hall on how his team was able to have so much success in Oshawa. “We won a lot of games in a lot of different ways this weekend so we knew that whatever happened in this final, we’d seen it before and we knew how to react to it.”
In what was a busy Monday for the Golden Hawks, who needed to win three games on the final day of the championship to bring home the gold medal, Laurier started the day with a 6-5 victory over the Carleton Ravens in the quarter-finals. That match also saw Hall make a draw to the button with his last shot to keep the Hawks’ title hopes alive.
The semifinals saw the purple and gold meet a familiar foe as they battled the Brock Badgers for a spot in the gold medal match for the third straight year. Unfortunately for Brock, the result was identical to the previous two meetings as the Hawks scored three in the sixth end en route to a 6-4 win.
With another perfect run to the OUA Championship, Wilfrid Laurier’s men’s curling teams have now won 22 consecutive games at the provincial championship with their last loss coming to the Lakehead Thunderwolves during round robin play at the 2015 event.
The victory means that the Hawks now advance to the U SPORTS/Curling Canada Championships being hosted by the Lakehead Thunderwolves in Thunder Bay, Ont., from March 19-22 at the Fort William Curling Club. It marks the fourth consecutive trip to the national championship for the men’s team.
“We’re going to keep just doing exactly what we’ve be en doing,” commented Hall on what it will take to have success at nationals. “We’re going to practice a couple of times a week, we’re going to play our league games, we’re going to bring intensity and we’re mostly going to have confidence. There’s a lot of good teams out there but we’re a good team too so hopefully we can bring the intensity and have a good week up there.”
Stay tuned to laurierathletics.com for complete details.
NOTES: Lyon-Hatcher joined Hall on the OUA All-Star teams as he was named a First Team All-Star…the Hawks outscored their opposition 67-31 over the course of their 10 victories…the varsity team is now a perfect 14-0 against OUA competition this season