Young curlers excited to compete on national level

Four young curlers, including two brothers from the Woodstock Golf and Curling Club, headed to Timmins, Ontario, over the weekend to participate in the U18 Canadian National Curling Championships from Feb. 5 to 11.

Team Robichaud, featuring Skip Luke Robichaud, third James Carr, and Woodstock brothers Aiden and Austin Matheson as second and lead, respectively, is one of two teams representing New Brunswick at the 21-team event.

Members of the Woodstock Curling Club hosted a send-off reception for the team on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

Robichaud travelled to Woodstock to join the Matheson brothers at the event. He explained Carr, a UNB student, couldn’t make the trip from Fredericton because of class commitments.

The Mathesons’ father and assistant coach Colin Matheson said the young men appreciate the support.

He explained 18-year-old Aiden and 16-year-old Austen began curling in Woodstock more than a decade ago. He said Aiden took up the sport, and Austen quickly followed.

Aiden said he enjoyed the sport from the beginning, noting he and Austen appreciated the community atmosphere and the support of the older players.

Colin said his boys benefitted early from the coaching of people like Woodstock Curling Club’s Ben Kilfoil.

While curling doesn’t have the same following as hockey or basketball in the province, young curlers benefit from the attention of some of the game’s stars.

“They’ve met some of their idols,” Colin said.

One of New Brunswick’s top curlers, Alex Robichaud, coaches Team Robichaud, although coach Alex and skip Luke are unrelated.

Alex will not be able to attend the U18 games in Timmins, as his team will compete in the New Brunswick Tankard in Moncton at the same time.

Colin, assistant coach of the U18 squad, will take over the coaching reins at the Canadian Championships.

While he doesn’t carry the playing experience, Colin said he learned much about the sport from coaches like Alex Robichaud, Kilfoil and others over the years.

He said the young men look forward to the Timmins experience.

“It’ll be a big learning experience for them,” Colin said. “We’ll be able to measure ourselves against the best in the country.”

Luke Robichaud said Team Robichaud, who formed with him as skip two years ago, has yet to play at the national level. He admitted to being nervous but eager to play at that level.

“I just want to make sure we represent the province well,” Luke said.

Aiden said he and Austen follow in the footsteps of great role models from Woodstock, such as Sam Goodine and Leah and Erica Cluff.

Austen said it’s great to have the support of the entire curling community.

Luke said Team Robichuad’s strength is their support for each other.

“We always have each others’ back,” he said.

After practice on Saturday, the teams begin action on Sunday, with play continuing through the week. Finals games are on Saturday, Feb. 11.

Team Robichaud began the tournament with a strong performance, opening with a 9-2 win over Team Northwest Territories.

Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun