Irving finally accomplishes mission

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:22 AM ET

The demons of the past have been dashed.

Fort Garry's top-ranked Andrew Irving was finally able to cap off his junior curling career with a Manitoba title. Irving stole three in the ninth end to sink Springfield's Curtis Joyal 8-4 in the final of the Target Junior Men's Provincial Championship in Rivers yesterday.

As third for the heavily favoured Adam Norget, Irving lost two straight playoff games last year.

"Mission accomplished," an elated Irving said from Rivers shortly after the victory. "It feels just amazing. I'm floating on air here right now. And it feels good to do it with my last shot, too. That was icing on the cake."

With Norget cheering him on, Irving made a runback and sat three behind cover when his shooter rolled in. Braden Zawada, who throws the last brick for Joyal, then wrecked on an attempted runback of his own.

Supported by third B.J. Neufeld, 20, second Travis Taylor, 19, and Marc Lacroix, 20, Irving will represent Manitoba at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Men's and Women's Championships, to be played in St. Catharines, Ont., Feb. 3-11. Both Neufeld and Lacroix played in two previous nationals with Daley Peters.

"They came very close (to winning), and they're just itching to get back," said Irving, who is making his first trip to the nationals. So is Taylor, who will now have to pass on a trip to the Safeway Select as second for Brandon's Terry McNamee because the nationals conflict with the men's provincial playdowns.

Although Irving finished the round-robin with a perfect 7-0 record, Joyal beat him in the Page playoff one-versus-one game Sunday night. But Irving, 20, was able to exact his revenge.

"I'm trying to come down off an adrenaline rush right now," he said.

Irving eliminated the 'Kyle Flett Team' 7-4 in the semifinal. The Petersfield squad competed under the name of their skip, who died as the result of a snowmobile accident just before Christmas. With Jason Bedard skipping, the team advanced all the way to the semifinal.


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