Tri-City curlers steal gold at junior provincials

The path to success for a pair of young Tri-City curlers slid further forward on Thursday.

The Royal City rink skipped by Coquitlam’s Hayato Sato stole four in the eighth end to defeat Johnson Tao’s team from Richmond, Vancouver and Port Moody, 9-3, and win the B.C. provincial junior curling championship in Victoria.

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Both teams will play at the national championships in Langley beginning Jan. 16.

Sato, whose team also includes second Joshua Miki from Port Coquitlam, sailed through the preliminary rounds undefeated to earn a bye into Thursday’s final.

But Tao, whose side includes Connor Kent from Port Moody at second, proved a formidable opponent by scoring three in the fourth end to erase a 2-0 lead Sato’s side had established in the opening end.

Sato tied it in the fifth end, then reclaimed the lead by scoring another in the sixth and seventh ends before clinching victory in the eighth.

Coach Bryan Miki, who’s also from Port Coquitlam, said the win was a “great way to start the new year.”

It’s also a nice boost into curling’s junior ranks for players under the age of 21 after the team finished second in the U18 provincial championships last March. That result came just weeks after it earned a gold medal at the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, AB.

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