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Good luck may have turned bad for these Newfoundland and Labrador junior curlers

Ryan McNeil Lamswood and Joel Krats were expecting to wear red and white uniforms with Canadian emblems next winter at the 2021 world junior men's curling championship, but that is looking less and less likely.
Ryan McNeil Lamswood and Joel Krats were expecting to wear red and white uniforms with Canadian emblems next winter at the 2021 world junior men's curling championship, but that is looking less and less likely.— File/Twitter/@TeamBruceCurl

A one-off change had Ryan McNeil Lamswood and Joel Krats going to 2021 world juniors; now, that might not happen

A lucky break, in the form of a national curling policy change, led to a pair of Newfoundlanders invited to play for Canada at the world juniors next year in China.

And now, in what could only be described as instances of rotten luck and awful timing, it seems as if Ryan McNeil Lamswood and Joel Krats might not be throwing stones in Beijing after all.

As Curling Canada instituted a change in its policy for sending teams to world junior championships, McNeil Lamswood and Krats had been selected to play on a junior men’s team that would represent Canada next February in what would be a transition year. However, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic mean that night not happen.

McNeil Lamswood was third on the Daniel Bruce-skipped team at the Canadian junior championship in Langley, B.C. in January, while Krats threw second stone.

The team, which also included lead Nathan King, reached the national final before losing to Manitoba’s Jacques Gauthier.

Gauthier and his team, following the former Canadian curling custom, advanced to the world juniors a few weeks later, winning the 2020 gold medal on Russian ice in February.

But the practice of the Canadian junior champs moving on directly to worlds following nationals was set to change.

Joel Krats (left) and Ryan McNeil Lamswood
Joel Krats (left) and Ryan McNeil Lamswood

According to a Curling Canada news release, with the dates of the Canadian juniors being shifted to later in the curling season beginning in 2021 — a move to allow longer playing seasons for junior-aged players — winners of the nationals won’t attend the world championship until the following season.

As a result, for the 2020-21 transition season, Curling Canada was prepared to send a team to the 2021 world juniors in Beijing featuring age-eligible players who competed at a high level during the 2019-20 season.

Making the cut were McNeil-Lamswood and Krats, joined by three members of the Alberta team which finished fourth in Langley (Bruce and King are too old for the ’21 world juniors).

The provincial junior championship this season was McNeil-Lamswood’s fifth — one shy of Brad Gushue for all-time record — to go with an all-Newfoundland under-18 crown as a skip in 2018.

“Gushue is Gushue, one of the best in the world,” said the junior squad’s coach, Dennis Bruce. “But the fact that Ryan, out of Stephenville, has five provincial junior titles is pretty bloody amazing. That’s five championships with four different teams.”

Our goal for this upcoming season is to represent the great province of Newfoundland and Labrador for u21 age.

— Team McNeil Lamswood (@RyanLamswood) March 20, 2020

McNeil-Lamswood, along with King, was a second-team all-star in Langley.

Coach Bruce also had high praise for Krats, who won his first provincial junior title this year after skipping the all-Newfoundland U18 champions in 2019, followed by a fourth-place finish at the U18 nationals.

“He’s a shooter,” Bruce said of Krats. “Extraordinary. In the (national) semifinal game this year (a 9-8 win over Saskatchewan), Joel made two or three shots in a row that led us to victory.”

Bruce and King are from Corner Brook, McNeil Lamswood hails from Stephenville and Krats is a Labrador City native who once skipped teams out of Gander and attended Mount Pearl Senior High last year

Nevertheless, the rink was based out of the Re/Max Centre in St. John's, where Bruce, McNeil Lamswood and King attended Memorial University last season.

With the change in age categories for Bruce and King has come a change in the team makeup. In the spring, McNeil Lamswood, as skip, and Krats, as third, announced they would be forming a new junior (U21) foursome, joining Alex McDonah and Adam Currie.

Those four should be planning get-togethers this summer working on booking bonspiels and training sessions in the fall, in part to for help McNeil Lamswood’s and Krats’ prepare for a world turn seven months from now.

Regrettably, it is all becoming increasingly unlikely, including their trip to Beijing in February. That’s in light of China’s recent announcement regarding a ban on all international sporting events in the country for at least the remainder of 2020 — and perhaps longer — with the exception of trials for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.


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