Team Henderson is in as good a spot as you can get at the 2016 Tim Hortons B.C. Junior Curling Championships in Kamloops.
The team returns as the defending champions, but can also play without wearing the crown as “favourites” to win the tourney.
The team of skip Paul Henderson, 20, third Duncan Silversides, 17, second Benton Boychuk-Chorney, 17, and lead Timothy Henderson, 17, are currently playing the round robin portion of provincials, which wraps up on Sunday.
“It’s still a lot of pressure, you hope you bring your best games,” said Todd Troyer, coach of Team Henderson.
“These guys treat it like it’s important to them. They’ve done a lot of time training off the ice in fitness and strength and these guys are keen to play, they love doing it and it shows.”
The team is another year older, with another year of experience including last year’s national championships.
This is the final year of junior eligibility for the skip, Paul, who lives in Saanich and studies at the University of Victoria. Paul also joins in on the Victoria high school curling academy ice sessions at the Victoria Curling Club with the other three. Boychuk-Chorney is a Saanich resident at Esquimalt High, Silversides lives in Colwood and is home schooled, while Tim is also from Saanich and studies at Lambrick Park secondary.
Last year Tim played for two teams, as he represented B.C. at the Canada Winter Games. Tim won bronze as the lead thrower on Team Tardi, who will be the team to beat at this week’s provincials.
“We’re looking forward to our game against them and another good team, the McCrady rink,” Troyer said. “They’ll be good.”
Team Henderson participated in four of the five stops on the inaugural B.C. Junior Curling Tour, competing in Esquimalt, Vernon, Abbotsford and New Westminster, but skipping the Kelowna meet for school reasons.
“If we played in Kelowna, it would have been five straight weekend tournaments ending with the playdowns,” Troyer said. “The kids needed a break to focus on school.”
The first two finishers on the B.C. Junior Curling Tour earned an automatic berth at the provincials, leaving the third-place Henderson rink to qualify through traditional playdown format.
“We had the attitude that [B.C. Junior Curling Tour tourneys] were for training and practice,” Troyer said. “If we get a spot, great, you’re fortunate. Otherwise, it’s the normal route of zone playdowns, which worked for us.”
The Henderson rink won both games at November’s Coastal zone playdowns in Port Moody.
First round was a bye, “the luck of the draw,” Troyer said. The second round was a 7-5 win over Team Mak from the mainland which set up an extra-end win over Team Stoyles in the third and final round to qualify for provincials.