PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, MB – The Thunder Men’s and Women’s curling teams wrapped up the 2020 CCAA Curling Canada National Championships in fine fashion Sunday, as the men’s team would successfully defend their national championship from a year ago in dramatic fashion.
The Men’s team would end up as the #3 seed after round robin, as three teams were tied with identical 5-2 records. After sorting out the tiebreakers, the Thunder would be paired against ACAC and Edmonton rival NAIT Ooks in the semi-final. Both teams would save their best of the week as they delivered another exciting game. The first three ends saw lots of action with the Thunder scoring two in the first and three in the third to build an early 5-3 lead. The match would settle down a bit after that with both teams playing reserved and tight until the 10th end when Skip Evan Van Amsterdam would save the day with an incredible shot to bump out the second shot stone of the Ooks, forcing NAIT to take a single point to make it 7-7. In the 11th end, the Thunder would make no mistake and score two before running the Ooks out of stones for a 9-7 win.
In a rematch of last year’s final, the Thunder would take on the Humber Hawks (OCAA), who defeated the Fanshawe Falcons (OCAA) earlier in the day. The Thunder found themselves in trouble right away in the first end as a couple misses gave up an early 3-0 lead to the Hawks. After giving up two straight steals in the 3rd and 4th ends, the Thunder would hit a triple takeout in the 5th to cut the Humber lead to 5-3. In the 6th end, the Thunder would steal another two to tie the game at 5-5. Unfazed, the Hawks would answer right back with two of their own in the 7th end, while forcing the Thunder to take a single in the 8th to retain their 7-6 lead with the hammer going into the 9th. In the 9th end the Thunder took full advantage of the hammer, putting 3 up on the board to lead 9-7 going into the 10th end. A couple misses late in the end opened the door for the Hawks as they would score 2 to force the extra end, tying the game at 9-9. The 11th came down to the very last stone, as Van Amsterdam once again came through with an open draw for one as the Thunder won their second straight CCAA Curling Canada National Championship.
The Women’s team had their brooms full in their semi-final match up against the #2 seeded Humber Hawks (OCAA). The Hawks were relentless in their assault of Thunder, playing a calculated and structured game that left no openings for the Thunder to build any momentum. The Hawks seemed to score at will on their way to an 11-2 win over the Thunder, sending them to the bronze medal game.
In the bronze medal match, the Thunder would find themselves playing familiar ACAC foe, the Queens of Red Deer College (RDC). While the Thunder defeated the Queens 8-5 on Day 1 of the championships, RDC was coming off an emotional last-rock win last night to sneak into the medal round on a tiebreak, and was looking to make the most of it. The Queens would build an early 2-1 lead, but the Thunder would be patient, scoring a single in the 3rd to tie the game, while stealing one in the 5th for their first least of the game at 3-2. The back and forth game would go down to the last rock in the 10th end as the Queens would hang on for a 7-5 win over the Thunder.
Thunder’s Braeden Pelech would be selected to the 1st All-Tournament Team as the best Second in the championships, while Evan Van Amsterdam would be selected to the 2nd All-Tournament Team as a Top 2 Skip in the championships.