At the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men’s curling championships this past weekend, it was any teams to win. However, with three Dawson Creek curlers in the field, Travis Jones, Jason Ginter and Jordan Steinke, odds were that a rink with at least one would win the provincial title.
Jones is that curler.
He and the NAIT Ooks clinched the ACAC championships with a 7-3 finals win over U of A – Augustana on Sunday at the Avonair Curling Club in Edmonton, Alta.
Meanwhile, Ginter and Steinke, teammates on the Grant MacEwan University Griffins, took bronze with a 6-5 victory over Lakeland.
Jones, a business major at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, said the championship was a long time coming for him after competing for so long in the conference.
“It feels great. Especially being in my fourth year in the ACAC it was well worth the wait,” said Jones, who curls lead alongside skip Matt Brown, third Kenton Maschmeyer and second Kyle Reynolds.
In the gold medal game, down 3-2 after the third end NAIT took advantage of an Augustana error in the fourth to score three and give them a 4-3 lead. Two more in the sixth and one in the seventh sealed it for the Ooks.
“It was all about keeping our cool and making our shots, waiting for them to make the first mistake,” said Jones. “Patience was definitely the key in the gold medal game.”
Jones said that the entire spiel was close the whole way through, noting the three-way tie after preliminaries between Augustana, NAIT and Grant MacEwan.
“Between the three teams tied for first it was pretty much anybody’s game, so it really came down to who was going to make the first mistake.”
With identical 2-1 records after the round robin, the three teams drew to the button to determine their placing in the playoff round. NAIT lost the tiebreaker; putting them at third spot to face Lakeland in the quarter-final. Whereas the second-seed Griffins would play number one Augustana for an immediate berth to the finals.
Augustana downed the Griffins 6-4 in the semis, leading to a Grant MacEwan and NAIT matchup in the second semifinal; pitting the Dawson Creek young guns against one another for a shot at the title and heightening the intensifying rivalry between the two rinks.
Like true gentleman, when both sides were asked about going head-to-head, Jones laughed at the idea of a rivalry, and Ginter commended NAIT on their championship.
“With me and Jordan we used to be on the same team and won high school provincials back in 2008,” said Jones. “So playing against an old teammate it’s more of a fun rivalry between us than anything else.
“We all know each other, it’s always a good time and a lot of fun playing them.”
“It’s always fun to play Travis,” responded Ginter. “It’s not a harsh competition – it’s friendly – and NAIT is a fun team to play against. I’m glad they won.”
In the semifinal, after the rinks exchanged singles in the first five ends, NAIT extended their 3-2 lead with a double in the sixth, from which the Griffins could not recover.
“In the semis, we had one in-off chance against them and if we make that we probably win that game,” said Ginter. “Any team could of won, we’ve beaten all of them before so it could have been ours to win, could have been anybody’s to win.”
Despite falling short at the ACAC’s, Steinke was recognized as the conference’s top skip, as voted on by his peers.
Though provincials have been decided, the curling season continues for both rinks as the two squads will represent their schools at the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association National Championship, to be hosted by NAIT in late March.