Daniel Bruce found a way to rally back from a four-point deficit to earn a playoff berth at the 2018 New Holland Canadian Junior Men’s Curling Championship in Shawinigan, Que.
Bruce, representing Newfoundland and Labrador with Andrew Bruce, Ryan McNeil Lamswood and Nathan King along for the journey, finished with a 3-3 round-robin record and a berth in the playoff pool after rallying for an 8-7 win over Prince Edward Island Tuesday morning in Shawinigan.
The Prince Edward Island entry picked up a four points in the sixth end to put the pressure on Bruce and company with a playoff berth on the line, but the young skip from Corner Brook managed to bounce back from a 6-3 deficit after six ends to mark the first time a Newfoundland and Labrador entry advanced to the champions round of eight since the format was changed a handful of years ago.
“We were struggling a little bit, but then we picked it up and came out with the win so that was pretty nice,” Bruce said Tuesday from Shawinigan.
There were two late draws on the schedule Tuesday night so Bruce was waiting patiently to find out who would be his opponent when the playoff round begins in earnest Wednesday morning.
Bruce opened the tournament with a 7-3 win over Northwest Territories Saturday morning. He improved to 2-0 with a 12-2 victory over Nunavut, but then he ran into some tough competition and lost three in a row — 10-5 to Ontario, 11-3 to Northern Ontario and 10-3 to Alberta — before snagging a playoff berth with a big comeback in what would be the biggest game of his young career as the team’s goal heading to Shawinigan was to earn a berth in the final eight and that mission has been accomplished.
The road to gold isn’t going to be any easy one for Bruce. He knows there are some really good teams standing in his way so he will have to take his game to another level to compete with the big guns who have experience on their side.
“There’s a lot of good teams so we just have to play our best and see what happens,” he said.