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Boland, rinkmates hope national university win will provide Brier boost

The Memorial Sea-Hawks men’s team poses with gold medals and the championship trophy after taking the U Sports national university curling title with an 8-4 win over the University of Alberta in Thunder Bay, Ont., on Wednesday. Members of the team (from left) are skip Adam Boland, third Stephen Trickett, coach Gary Ryan (in back), second Zach Young and lead Evan Kearley.
The Memorial Sea-Hawks men’s team poses with gold medals and the championship trophy after taking the U Sports national university curling title with an 8-4 win over the University of Alberta in Thunder Bay, Ont., on Wednesday. Members of the team (from left) are skip Adam Boland, third Stephen Trickett, coach Gary Ryan (in back), second Zach Young and lead Evan Kearley.

Adam Boland says he and his teammates will be looking to take their game up a notch next season as they aim to play on one of curling’s biggest stages.

n that case, other teams should pay close attention to the Memorial Sea-Hawks foursome, which was perfect in university tournament competition this season.
Boland, third Stephen Trickett, second Zach Young and lead Evan Kearley capped an unbeaten run Wednesday by defeating the Alberta Golden Bears 8-4 in the U Sports men’s curling championship final in Thunder Bay, Ont.
The Memorial rink, coached by Gary Ryan, was 9-0 in Thunder Bay, including seven wins in round-robin play. Added to an 8-0 record in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) championship in Truro, N.S., last month, that makes the Boland rink 17-0 at the collegiate level in 2017.
“No we didn’t come here thinking we, or anyone else for that matter, would go undefeated,” said Boland. “There were so many good teams, you couldn’t count on that.”
Boland was one of a number of players in Thunder Bay who have skipped at national junior championships, having represented Newfoundland and Labrador in 2013. Another was Alberta, led by Thomas Scoffin, who won the national university title in 2015, was runner-up last year and holds the record for most appearances in national junior play with seven (six for the Yukon and once for Alberta in 2013, when he lost to Manitoba in the final).
Wednesday afternoon, in a game where the first three ends were blanked (Boland began with hammer), Scoffin carried a 2-1 lead through five ends, but after the break, Boland scored three in the sixth and never looked back, clinching things with a score of four in the eighth.
Memorial had some close calls during the week, including having to steal two in the final end for a 7-6 round-robin win over Dalhousie and scoring two with hammer in the Nevertheless, there was no doubt the Sea-Hawks were the dominant team in Thunder Bay.
No other entry had fewer than four losses; every member of the Memorial team finished in the top three in his position statistically (Trickett led all thirds); the Sea-Hawks stole a competition-topping 21 points; and Boland and Co. also led the field with a scoring average of more than eight points per game, helped by seven ends that saw them score three or more points.
“There were a few times when we took some chances and it paid off, but I think the big thing was we were consistent all week and were able to capitalize when other teams made mistakes,” said Boland, who is set to graduate from Memorial this year.
So is Trickett, although Boland says they are considering returning to do post-graduate work, which would allow them to return intact to defend their U Sports title in 2018.
Whatever happens collegiately, the team will be staying together as it aims to represent Newfoundland at next year’s Brier Canadian men’s championship.
The Boland rink lost to Brad Gushue in this year’s Tankard provincial men’s final in January — it was the last defeat for the young team in tournament play. However, with Gushue and Co. having won the Brier earlier this month at Mile One Centre, it means they will defend their title as Team Canada next year, and someone else will represent Newfoundland at the Brier in 2018.
“We were going to compete in the Tankard next year in any case,” said Boland, “but I guess you could say there is a little more incentive now.
“With Brad in (the Tankard field), it might be a bit of a pipe dream to (expect to) win. Now, it’s a more realistic goal.”
Their success regionally and nationally at the university level has helped confidence-wise, as well.
“We always believed in ourselves, but having played mostly only against teams at home, you are never really certain of how you would stack up elsewhere,” said Boland, whose rink competed in the SuperLeague at the Re/Max Centre in St. John’s this season.
“We faced some very good teams from across the country here and (in Truro) last month, so to come through all of that without a loss provides a big boost going into next season.”

Notes
This is the second victory for Memorial in national university play; a Sea-Hawks rink skipped by Colin Thomas captured the then-CIS men’s title in St. John’s in 2011 … Wednesday’s game ended the 2016-17 curling season for Boland, who wasn’t sure if Memorial’s victory in Thunder Bay would provide a berth in any future competition. The next world university Winter Games, for example, are not until 2019 ... UPEI, skipped by Chris Gallant, brother of Gushue second Brett Gallant, won the men’s bronze medal Wednesday, edging Regina 7-6 …  Laurentian University out of Sudbury, Ont., took the women’s championship …

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