The Western Mustangs men’s curling team fell just short of the playoffs at the 2019 U Sports/Curling Canada University Curling Championships in Fredericton, N.B.
The team entered the event, which took place from March 15 to 19, as the Ontario University Athletics bronze medalists, besting the Ryerson Rams 7–2 last month.
“Our expectations as a team were to simply perform well,” said Western skip Ryan Thompson-Brown. “Of course, making the playoffs is the end goal of the week, but making shots and working well together was the first step, and it feels like we accomplished that.”
When asked about the key to their success in making it to nationals, Thompson-Brown attributed it to the team's mindset.
"When we’re in a positive, relaxed headspace, we keep the good plays coming,” he said.
In the first draw, the men beat the Brock Badgers 9–6 before falling to the New Brunswick Varsity Reds 6–5. They then won their next two, beating the Carleton Ravens 11-4 and the Lethbridge Pronghorns 13–5. They then fell to the Dalhousie Tigers 10–3 and suffered an extra-end loss to the Memorial Sea-Hawks 9–7. In a must-win situation, their run ended with a heartbreaking 7–5 loss to the Alberta Golden Bears. The team finished sixth out of the eight teams in the competition.
Although out of contention, Thompson-Brown is proud of what the team was able to accomplish this year.
“Many teams here had more experience together and [have practiced] on arena ice, yet we all finished in the top half for stats at our positions. Even though the breaks didn’t go our way, it feels good to know that we still performed well as a team," he said.
The Mustangs finished as the second-best team at U-Sports in statistics, and lead Andrew Berg received Second Team All-Star honours for his overall performance. The men’s gold went to the Carleton Ravens with a 10–4 win over Memorial University, and the women’s gold went to the Laurentian Voyageurs with a 7–5 win over the Brock Badgers.