Big third end key for Tardi in B.C. junior men’s final

On top of early errors, Colwell had a couple of bad breaks add salt to the wounds.

Team Tardi, from left, skip Tyler Tardi, third Sterling Middleton, second Matthew Hall, lead Alex Horvath and coach Paul Tardi show off their hardware after winning the BC provincial junior curling championships in Vernon on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (John K. White/Morning Star)

This one was over early.

Vernon’s Erik Colwell was facing Langley/Victoria’s Tyler Tardi in the men’s final of the B.C. junior curling championships when two uncharacteristic misses blew the doors open leading to an eventual 9-2 final for Tardi in eight ends.

Colwell missed two open hits in the second end after a blank in the first by Tardi. Tardi made no mistake on his last, drawing for three. From there, Colwell found himself chasing the game trying to push the offence.

“It was probably one of the best weeks of curling I’ve ever played. I felt like I was making everything and it really grew my confidence. It was a good week, just fell short in the finals,” Colwell said after the medal ceremonies Tuesday.

“We felt like the ice was curling a little bit more, but early when we gave up a three in the second, it just kind of fell apart from there after I flashed two in a row,” Colwell said. “I guess I was throwing it different than I was the rest of the week and it just curled up on me because I threw them right at the stick with the weight and it didn’t didn’t do what I thought it would do.”

On top of those early errors, Colwell had a couple of bad breaks add salt to the wounds.

“My hit for two in seven went sideways out of my hand. We got unlucky in the third end. It needed to curl up an inch and we would have got one in that end,” he said.

Tardi said playing in a TV game can overwhelm those new to the experience.

“We’ve had quite a few TV games and I don’t think anyone’s really fully prepared for it their first time and it’s tough, I’ve been in that spot, too. You just want to play well, and if you’re struggling it kind of amplifies,” Tardi said, with a depth of empathy and a nod to Colwell.

“They got some unfortunate breaks, I’m not going to lie, but we played our hearts out and we played really well and made a couple of key shots that game,” Tardi added.

Still, the Langley/Victoria team was lights-out in the final and deserved full marks for the win, Colwell said.

“They’re really good and they play well with a lead. They didn’t miss any peels. They throw it hard enough and they throw it so straight it’s tough to beat them,” Colwell said. “You could see why they’re back-to-back national champions.”

Tardi’s big hit weight was a differentiator all week, and that was the killer arrow in their quiver in the final.

“We let that be a pretty big part of our game in holding leads. We’ve been working on that for the past five or six years and it’s become a big edge in our game, and here it really showed,” Tardi confirmed.

Always the debate in curling playoffs is the impact of the day off on the first-place team: Does it help or hinder your performance? The waiting, Tom Petty would tell you, is the hardest part.

“We had a day off which is always a bit of a tough go, just because you’re sitting around. We were trying to do as much as we can to make the day fly as fast as possible,” Tardi said. “Nobody wants to just sit around and you feel like it’s been a week since you’ve played. We know that feeling and we’ve been prepared for it, so it helped out today.”

For Colwell, the lopsided final will leave a bad taste for a bit, but in time he will come to appreciate what they accomplished during the week.

“I’m not happy right now, but I’m happy with the week,” Colwell said with a sigh. “We’ve been the best I’ve seen this team play. We beat Tardi early in the week, so that’s something to grow on for next year. Hopefully, our team stays together and we can give it another shot next year. We can only grow from here. We got second place. I’ve never been in a provincial final and it was a good experience. I wish I could have enjoyed it a little more with a closer game. It was tough to enjoy it after the first couple of shots.”

RELATED: Delta’s Daniels takes provincial junior crown

Scoring summary

First end was blanked by Tardi.

Second end — see above.

In three, Colwell was facing a very tricky slash hit to score, but just missed and gave up a steal of one.

Tardi split the house with a pair of counters in four forcing a hit and stick, but Colwell missed another open hit and gave up two.

It was a clean house again in five, with Colwell deciding to hit the scoreboard with a hit and stick rather than try to blank. It was 6-1 going into the break.

Tardi hit and stuck for one facing three in six.

In seven, Colwell had a double and sit for two, but it appeared his rock picked and he gave up a steal of two.

Likely knowing they were about to shake hands, Tardi drew open side with his last giving Colwell an open hit to score a single with a hit and stick in the eighth and final end.

Team Tardi — made up of skip Tyler Tardi, third Sterling Middleton, second Matthew Hall, lead Alex Horvath and coach Paul Tardi — will represent B.C. in the Canadian junior curling championships from Jan. 19 to 27 in Prince Albert, Sask.

Now that they own the province, Team Tardi can devote themselves to prepping for their return visit to nationals.

“It’s always a thought in the back of your head whenever you’re playing, and for most Canadians, it’s the ultimate goal just to play in that,” he said. “Since we’re doing that we can think about it as soon as possible, maybe celebrate for a bit and get back going at it. We’re ready for some big fights.”

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Vernon’s Team Colwell after accepting their silver medals, from left, Coach Dale Hofer, lead Tyler Powell, second Ben Morin, third Logan Miron and skip Erik Colwell. (John K. White/Morning Star)

The teams shake hands after eight ends. (John K. White/Morning Star)

Vernon’s Logan Miron (left) and Erik Colwell accept their silver medals. (John K. White/Morning Star)

Skip Tyler Tardi looks on as third Sterling Middleton accepts his gold medal. (John K. White/Morning Star)

Team Tardi second Matthew Hall shows focus while throwing in the final. (John K. White/Morning Star)

Vernon Curling Club’s Dave Merklinger accepts a plaque for the host team’s work on the provincials. (John K. White/Morning Star)

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