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Corner Brook junior curlers join forces at provincial U21 championship

Nick O’Neill knows Daniel Bruce will be a foe in a couple of months, but for now he’s eager to be his good friend.

Corner Brook’s Nick O’Neill lines up a shot during a recent practice session in preparation for the provincial Under-21 men’s curling championship getting underway today at the Caribou Curling Club in Stephenville. — Submitted photo

O’Neil has joined forces with Bruce for the provincial Under-21 men’s curling championship being staged at the Caribou Curling Club in Stephenville over the next four days.

Bruce will move to the third position on the Corner Brook Curling Club rink that also includes Andrew Bruce, Nathan King and Brad Power.

O’Neil and Bruce, both budding junior curlers in Corner Brook, will compete against each other for the provincial Under-18 crown in Gander in March.

Joining forces for a chance to compete at a higher level was something both were excited about doing. Throwing more rocks, against more experienced players, is something they feel will make them better curlers and help prepare for their showdown in Gander.

“It feels great knowing that they have the confidence in me to want me to play,” O’Neill, son of Tracey and Sheldon O’Neill,  said earlier this week. “Also I think I can add a little bit of confidence to their team knowing that they have somebody else to count on to make shots when they need to.”

Bruce had no problems welcoming O’Neil to the skip role. His preference is playing the third position so he’s comfortable.

“He’s one of the best players we have (in the club) so whatever makes us better and more competitive,” Bruce said.

Both guys know the competition will be fierce. They have realistic expectations knowing they only have one year of competitive curling under their belts.

“Get better every game and compete,” Bruce said of the team’s goal. “The chances aren’t great, but we just want to stay close in every game and have a chance.”

At the end of the day they expect to be better curlers.

But, how do they feel about the fact knowing they will come face to face in Gander?

Bruce said it’s not a big deal since he plays against O’Neill on a regular basis.

O’Neill will be watching Bruce closely as they make their way through the tournament.

“Maybe I’ll pick up a few tips on how I can beat him later on,” O’Neill said with a big laugh to follow.

The provincial Under-21 curling championship, which also features the Greg Smith rink out of the Caribou Curling Club, will get underway today 2 p.m. at the Corner Brook Curling Club.

The Players

The following is a list of team members for the respective clubs competing in the provincial Under-21 men’s curling championship at the Corner Brook Curling Club:

Corner Brook Curling Club

Skip Nick O’Neill

Third Daniel Bruce

Brad Power

Andrew Bruce

Nathan King

Coach Dennis Bruce

Caribou Curling Club

of Stephenville

Skip Greg Smith

Third Ryan McNeil Lamswood

Second Kyle Barron

Lead Craig Laing

Coach Scott Lamswood

Bally Haly St. John’s

Skip James Bryson

Third Ian Withycombe

Second Alex MacKay

Lead Jeff Au

Coach Craig Withycombe

St. John’s Curling Club

Skip Greg Blyde

Third Liam Gregory

Second Connor Stapleton

Lead Zach Payne

Coach Wallace Gregory

St. John’s Curling Club

Skip Andrew Taylor

Third James Trickett

Second Andrew Lawrence

Lead Zach Fitzpatrick

Coach David Trickett

St. John’s Curling Club

Skip Stephen Trickett

Third Mark Fajertag

Second Brook Calibaba

Lead Evan Kearley

Coach Eugene Trickett

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