PREVIEW: Curling Panthers head to 2017 National Championships

PREVIEW: Curling Panthers head to 2017 National Championships

By Marshall Mayne

The University of Prince Edward Island is heading to the USports Curling Canada University Championships today. This years tournament will run from March 18-22 at the Fort William Curling Club in Thunder Bay, Ontario. 

The UPEI Panthers are skipped by Chris Gallant (Bachelor of Business Administration), third Kyle Holland (Bachelor of Business Administration), second Brooks Roche (Bachelor of Science), and lead Alex MacFadyen (Bachelor of Science).

The foursome placed third at the 2017 AUS Curling Championships in Truro, Nova Scotia in early February, coming back in dramatic fashion by stealing two and defeating the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds 8-6 in an extra end. 

The Panthers will be represented at the national level for the fourth time in five years, however, this will be the first on the men's side during that span. The Veronica Smith rink represented UPEI from 2013-2015. 

"Obviously, any time you get the opportunity to compete at the national level it's special, said skip Chris Gallant following practice on Wednesday. It's always nice to represent your school and wear the colours. We don't play a full length season like a lot of the other teams so it's nice to make it count." 

Gallant returns to the Sports National Championships for the first time since 2014 when he played lead and represented the University of Manitoba Bisons. The Bisons would go on to defeat the University of Alberta Golden Bears 7-5 in an extra end. Gallant and the Bisons were invited by the Canadian Curling Association to represent Canada at the FISU 2015 Winter Universiade in Granada, Spain. 

After being to the USports Curling Championships before, Gallant knows how much time and preparation it takes to come out on top. 

"It's a very busy time of the school year so we're trying to get as much practice in as we can, added Gallant. University curling is a little different since most teams don't play with each other all season, so it's really important for the team to gel well and just click at the right time. Hopefully we have a good week and are still around come playoff time."

The 2017 field consists of the AUS champion Memorial Seahawks, runner ups Dalhousie Tigers, and the bronze medalists UPEI Panthers. From the OUA the champions Laurier Golden Hawks, runner ups, Queen Gaels, and finally the host Lakehead Thunderwolves. Representing Canada West the champions University of Alberta Golden Bears, and the University of Regina Cougars.

Selected games from the 2017 U SPORTS/Curling Canada Curling Championships will be streamed at USPORTS.LIVE. Draw results will be available at www.curling.ca while event information, including the rosters and official draw, can be found at http://www.curling.ca/2017university. Be sure to follow @upeipanthers on Twitter for updates and results as well.

#GoPanthersGo 

Tournament Schedule:  

Draw 1: Memorial Seahawks vs UPEI Panthers - March 18th, 8:00pm 

Draw 2: Lakehead Thunderwolves vs UPEI Panthers - March 19th, 2:00pm

Draw 3: Queens Gaels vs UPEI Panthers - March 19th, 7:00pm

Draw 4: Laurier Golden Hawks vs UPEI Panthers - March 20th 2:00pm

Draw 5: Dalhousie Tigers vs UPEI Panthers - March 20th, 7:00pm

Draw 6: West2 vs UPEI Panthers - March 21st, 2:00pm

Draw 7: West 1 vs UPEI Panthers - March 21st, 7:00pm

Draw 8: Semi-Finals - March 22nd, 9:00am

Draw 9: Finals - March 22nd, 2:00pm