Dartmouth native Mary Myketyn-Driscoll, left, leads her Truro Curling Club rink of mate Taylor Clarke, coach Jim Burgess, second Mackenzie Proctor and lead Sarah Sears into the Canadian junior curling championships this weekend in Fort McMurray. The event runs until Feb. 10 with the winners earning a spot at the world championships in Sochi, Russia. Submitted photo
TRURO - Diving into a national curling championship for the first time is a lot to take in all at once.
So the Truro Curling Club rink of Mary Myketyn-Driscoll, mate Taylor Clarke, second Mackenzie Proctor and lead Sarah Sears is cutting it up and taking it in small doses.
"Obviously everyone's goal is to win," Clarke said of the Canadian championship, which runs Saturday to Feb. 10 in Fort McMurray, Alta. "But we need to take it one game at a time. The first goal is to win the first game and we'll go from there."
The foursome opens the event Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Atlantic time against Ontario's Jamie Sinclair before taking on Carina McKay-Saturnino of the Northwest Territories Sunday at 10 a.m. The men's and women's champions move on to world championships Feb. 28 to March 10 in Sochi, Russia.
The Truro rink earned a berth in the event after winning the Nova Scotia title on New Year's Eve in Chester with an 8-6 win over Mayflower's Emily Dwyer in the final. Myketyn-Driscoll posted a 6-2 record at provincials as the team played some of its best curling in the two years the group has been together.
The foursome is hoping that trend continues in Fort McMurray.
"We just settled in as a team," Clarke said of provincials. "We played really well and played as a group."
It's somewhat surprising the team's members have become so tight, especially since they barely see each other. Clarke, a 20-year-old Hilden resident, attends St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, while Sears, 18, is an Acadia student in Wolfville. Proctor, a 19-year-old, attends Saint Mary's in Halifax.
The team was formed to start the 2011-12 season and finished a respectable 3-3 in its first go-around at provincials.
"We just clicked from the first day and it's carried us a long way," Proctor said. "We're all good friends so therefore we can play off each other and pick each other up."
That team dynamic is something the foursome will rely heavily upon for a top-four finish in their seven-team pool, which will be good enough to move on to the playoff round. The importance of having strong team chemistry is something coach Jim Burgess has preached to the foursome and his teachings have not fallen on deaf ears.
Burgess said without that kind of chemistry, a team is lost on the ice.
"If you're not getting along off the ice then that comes on the ice and it throws your game off," he said. "This team has really surprised me with how well they get along on and off the ice."
In spite of not knowing what to expect short of a battle each time they step on the ice, Proctor said she feels the team is more than capable of reaching its goal of getting to the playoff round.
"100 per cent," she said. "We just have to push on a game at a time and play to our capability we should be able to achieve that goal."
2013 Canadian Junior Curling Championships
Fort McMurray, Alta.
Feb. 2 to 10
Venues: MacDonald Island Park, Oilsands Curling Rink and CNRL Arena
Nova Scotia rep: Mary Myketyn-Driscoll, Truro Curling Club
Teams: Nova Scotia, Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Yukon, Nunavut, Ontario, Manitoba, Northern Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Northwest Territories.
Format: Top four teams from two pools of seven move on to crossovers. Winners move on to semifinals and final.
Champions: Men's and women's champions move on to world championships Feb. 28 to March 10 in Sochi, Russia.