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Northern Ontario on the Path to Curling Dominance

Nugget Column #13 – Wednesday December 14th, 2016

There was a wonderful article written this past week by Jonathan Brazeau for the Grand Slam of Curling. It’s a great read that I could not resist to share; thank you to the author for the following content that I have pruned to fit our weekly column space. Read the original story here.


Brad Jacobs smiled on the inside when he heard moose calls during the opening draw of the Boost National.

The Olympic gold medalist, playing in his hometown Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event this week, said it felt like the Brier when that unmistakable sound filled the Essar Centre.

“You get that feeling of being at the Brier,” Jacobs said. “I almost said it out loud to my guys, ‘It feels like the Brier out here. We’ve got some moose calls.’”

While the sound itself is not exactly all that pleasant, it’s one Northern Ontario curlers call their own.

“Love the moose calls,” Fleury said with no hesitation. “It reminds us of home so we definitely appreciate the fans with the moose calls.”

Coming up with a way to describe the noise is a bit challenging though with some interesting interpretations.

“I think in another interview I said it was like someone or an animal throwing up almost,” said Kendra Lilly, who throws third stones on Krista McCarville’s Thunder Bay team. “It’s not a nice noise but it’s our noise so we embrace it.

Get used to hearing the moose call at elite-level events as Northern Ontario has established itself as a powerhouse across the board in curling.

On top of Jacobs being the reigning Olympic champ, he’s a perennial contender at the Brier winning the national championship in 2013 and earning medals at the past two. McCarville finished runner-up at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts this past season during a remarkable comeback year where she also was victorious in four consecutive tour events. Fleury has established her team as a threat on the World Curling Tour, ranked in the top 10, and her younger brother Tanner Horgan claimed silver at the Canadian juniors.

Throw in a Canadian mixed championship for Trevor Bonot’s crew from Thunder Bay last month and Northern Ontario has all of their bases covered for curling domination.

“It’s great to see how much depth we have in all the different categories,” Horgan said. “I think the last four national events we’ve put a team in the playoffs, which is something totally new for our province so it’s just so awesome to see Northern Ontario doing so well.”

“I think a lot of people underestimate Northern Ontario and sometimes they think that we shouldn’t have our own spot,” Lilly added. “But we’ve proven — all the teams in mixed, women’s, men’s and juniors — that Northern Ontario is a force to be reckoned with. We’re proud to show everyone what we’re made of.”

Big-time curling will be back in Northern Ontario next season with the National returning to the Essar Centre and North Bay recently winning the bid to host the 2018 world women’s championship.

“It’s wonderful,” Wylie said. “It’s nice to know our friends and family are going to be able to come watch us. Hopefully we’ll be in the Slam next year and even for us if we’re not in the worlds in North Bay it’ll be fun just to go watch it there. We’ll definitely be in the crowd supporting the event.”

“It’s really great to see big events coming to Northern Ontario,” Fleury added. “It’s just a good thing for developing the sport in Northern Ontario so it’s awesome.”

Bobby Ray General Manager North Bay Granite Club

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