'Fletch' kicks back, awaits opponent

CON GRIWKOWSKY, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 11:18 AM ET

The James Gang is ridin' high. James Fletcher got a little help from NAIT schoolmate Derek Miller to claim the bye into today's 2 p.m. final in the men's junior provincial.

To claim first, Fletcher and his Edmonton Shamrock teammates needed to win and have Miller beat front-runner Thomas Sallows in yesterday's final round-robin game.

Miller delivered and did himself a favour, too, advancing into this morning's (10 a.m.) semifinal against Johnathan Elder of Red Deer.

"It worked out good for us,'' said Fletcher, whose 6-1 record led the pack. "I'm quite happy about it. It's good to be in the final. We lost the semi (to Sallows) last year, so it's good to get a bye into the final.''

In a tight group like this, getting choice of rocks and hammer could prove to be an advantage.

"For sure,'' said Fletcher. "We haven't lost yet this weekend with hammer. Anything can happen. It's nice we get a little break. We can sit back, relax and do our own thing.''

Before the first bricks were flung in anger, Fletcher had a quick word with Miller, the Camrose kid whose rink curls out of the Saville Centre.

"I talked to him and told him we're with you guys all the way,'' said Fletcher, a 20-year-old electronics engineering student at NAIT.

"We tried to get those guys goin'. I might have to buy him a beer later.

"He had to win. He didn't have a choice. It helped us out quite a bit. We played good and everything worked out for us.''

Fletcher had to build his supporting cast of Brandon Klassen, Tyler Donner and Adam Perry after the rest of his 2004 rink graduated.

"We had to shuffle positions around a little,'' said Fletcher. "Coach (Darrell Skarban) has been a huge help in getting us where we are.''

This is the last year of junior elegibility for Fletcher and he's put himself in a position to make it a memorable one.

Fletcher's only round-robin loss was definitely wacky, when Sallows stole six straight ends.

"I couldn't get anything right to go against him,'' said Fletcher, who won't have to worry about Sallows today.


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