Rink rides changes to junior title

STEVE GREEN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

It was a storybook ending, but with a plot twist.

For four years, Micky Lizmore and Brodie Tarvit of London took aim at the Ontario junior men's curling title, teaming with brothers Scott and Mike McDonald.

They came close, getting to the semifinals in 2005 and back to the championship tournament again a year ago, but not making the playoffs.

Now Lizmore, 19, and Tarvit, 20, are provincial champions, but instead of doing it with the McDonald brothers they had to beat them along the way.

The rink parted ways after last season, with Lizmore and Tarvit teaming up with skip Ryan Myler, 20, of Brampton -- a graphic design student at Fanshawe -- and lead Jim Clayton, 19, of Brantford. It proved a fruitful move as they beat McDonald 7-6 in the semifinals last weekend in Brockville -- Myler making a tap and stay against two in the 10th -- and then downing round-robin winner Christian Tolusso of Manotick 5-4 in the final.

"We all agreed we'd had a great run together and we'd had a lot of fun, but we all just decided it was time for a change, time for something new," Lizmore said of the split. "We knew Ryan was coming to London and we talked about having a new team. It's all about new people, a new beginning and a new kick at the can."

For Tarvit, it was his last kick as he's in his final year of junior eligibility.

"Now it's increased to 12 more games," he said of the Feb. 3-11 nationals in St. Catharines. "At least 12 more."

The pair admitted beating their friends wasn't without mixed emotions.

"I was excited that we'd made it to the final," Tarvit said, "but I tried to think about it like we'd just beaten another team, not that we'd beaten our friends."

"For me it was a little tough, too," Lizmore said. "I'd been playing with Scott for six years and part of me felt for him."

However, there was no fear of an emotional letdown in the final, Lizmore said. "We knew (Tolusso) had a good team, but when you're playing to win your province, playing to go to the nationals, nothing's going to stand in the way of your determination."

Myler was understandably happy to join forces with such experienced players.

"Throughout my whole junior career I'd seen them play and I knew they'd be a force to be reckoned with," he said. "These guys brought a lot of experience, they've played in a lot of high-pressure games and they showed they can win.

"As a skip, it's nice to have that behind you."

As experienced as this rink is, the three agreed they wouldn't have done it without the help of 1983 Saskatchewan men's champ and eight-time Ontario finalist, Kirk Ziola.

"For me as a skip, he's changed my outlook on the game and changed my strategy, learning how to play smart to keep the team in the game," Myler said. "He's terrific at dealing with conflict and any lack of communication."

"They're a pretty experienced side when it comes to dealing with pressure. I just gave them a different focus," Ziola said. "Instead of focusing on the end result of a shot or a game, I tried to get them to focus on their jobs and the team chemistry."


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