Coquitlam's Michael Styba rink will be advancing to compete in the U-18 Optimist International Curling Championships in Toronto March 31 to April 3 after winning gold in the provincial finals on the weekend.
Styba and his team of Justin Medwid, Dylan Heimburger and Zachary Umbach dominated the competition in their pool during the 2011 Tim Hortons BC Juvenile Curling Championships, hosted by the Cowichan Rocks Curling Centre in Lake Cowichan, defeating Kelvin Harper 8-1, Maxim Langlais 11-0 and Alexander Horvath 10-1.
Their semi-final game against Kelowna's Brandon Emslie proved to be a tighter match, with the locals needing an extra-end steal for a 5-4 win. Styba trailed 3-0 after three ends in the gold-medal game against Victoria's Daniel Wenzek but scored 3 in the 4th end and stole 2 in the 5th to take a 5-3 lead. The teams exchanged deuces in the 6th and 7th ends, but Styba ran Wenzek out of rocks in the 8th and final end.
"It was good," skip Styba said of the tournament. "A tough couple games - close competition."
This is the first year the Styba rink has been together as a whole. Lead Umbach was new to the team, with Styba, Medwid and Heimburger having played together last year.
The game was particularly special for lead Umbach, who celebrated his birthday on the day of the gold medal match with cheers and a song by teammates in the curling lounge.
Also of note during the Tim Hortons tournament was the fourth-place finish by Coquitlam's Gabrielle Plonka rink.
Plonka, Dezaray Hawes, Caitlin Campbell and Briana Egan entered the semi-finals undefeated in their pool and the semi-final game against Team Rice (Nanaimo) was a close defensive game.
In the end, it came down to skips rocks in the 8th end. It was a strategically tough game, but was lost, placing Plonka and her team in the bronze medal game.
- with files from the Cowichan Gazette (Black Press)