Juniors itchin' to start nats

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

The kid has been champin' at the curling bit ever since he won his first junior title almost three weeks ago. Both Petersfield's Daley Peters and Brandon's Tasha Hunter have spent the interim preparing for the Karcher Junior Men's and Women's Canadian Championships, which start in Victoria, B.C. tomorrow.

"I'm a little anxious," Peters said earlier this week. "We want to start playing already. It's been about two months.

"And it should be nice to get away from the snow and cold."

Peters, 19, slid through the provincial playdowns with a perfect 9-0 record and he is well aware of Manitoba's most recent records on the national junior scene. Two years ago, David Hamblin won the Canadian crown, then added the world title. Last year, Reid Carruthers failed to even make the playoffs.

NOT CONCERNED

"It's a different year, a different team," said the son of former Brier champ Vic Peters. "We're not concerned about what other teams did. We're just going to try our best and see what we can do."

Peters also has B.J. Neufeld -- son of Vic's long-time second Chris Neufeld -- at second, with third Matt Lacroix, 20, and his brother, Marc, 17, at lead.

Peters is unfamiliar with most of the field.

"I know the Quebec guy (Martin Crete) will be there for his third year so, he'll be pretty tough," he said. "I don't know why they don't use the Page playoff system but hopefully, we can be 10-2 and make the playoffs."

Only three of the 13 teams make the playoffs on both the junior men's and women's sides.

The junior men's field includes P.E.I.'s 13-year-old Brett Gallant, the youngest skip to ever curl at the junior nationals.

The junior women's field features Saskatchewan's Teejay Surik, third for Marliese Miller when she won both the Canadian and world championships last year, and Quebec's Marie Christine-Cantin, the 2003 Canada Winter Games gold medallist.

"We're definitely hoping to be right up there with the best," said Hunter, 21. "We're really looking forward to it. I'm starting to get a little nervous but I think nerves are a good thing.

"The first couple of games, we'll be kind of flustered. But, once we play a few games, we'll be more relaxed. Our goal is to make the playoffs and we figure a maximum of three, maybe four, losses will get a playoff spot."

Supported by third Jocelyn Foreman, 20, second Karen Hodgson, 19, and Roxie Trembath, 20, Hunter has gotten advice from former champions Jackie Komyshyn and Kristen Williamson.

"Kristen just said to try our best and that the people you meet are the most important aspect to it," Hunter said. "Jackie gave us a bit of advice but it was mostly about outfits.

"This is definitely nerve-wracking but all so exciting."


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