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Ridgebacks play host to OUA curling championships

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The best athletes in university curling will be converging on Oshawa in the coming days to compete for the title of Ontario’s best as UOIT gets ready to play host to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) curling championships.

Starting on Feb. 16, the tournament will run until Feb. 20 with 32 teams (16 mens and 16 womens) competing for the OUA titles.

For UOIT head coach Debbie Fischer, she’s looking forward to see both of her teams right in the mix come playoffs.

“We’re looking forward to hosting it and being the home team,” she says, noting the club, in a sense, has home ice advantage.

Unlike other university sports like basketball and hockey, curling teams do not play in a competitive league, although this doesn’t keep UOIT from making sure their skills are honed. Along with being members of the Oshawa Golf and Curling club, where the event will be hosted, the mens and womens teams also recently took part in a bonspiel at Brock University, where they both left with 2-2 records.

With her womens team, Fischer says she will be looking to skip Brittany Audrey to lead the way. The two-year veteran leads a team of mostly novice players in their first year on the varsity circuit.

“Last year, I had a huge turnover because I had three of them graduate of the four on the team,” Fischer explains. “(Audrey’s) got a lot of junior curling experience, so she’s kind of my anchor to hold the team together.”

Over the course of the five-day tournament, there will be 24 draws with the championship games for both mens and womens divisions scheduled for 5 p.m. on Feb. 20.

The UOIT teams will have their work cut out for them against the strong Laurier Goldenhawks club, which have swept both the mens and womens divisions for the past two years. In 2015, the UOIT men went 5-1 through the round robin before falling to Laurier in the quarter final.

And while this is the first OUA curling championship hosted by UOIT, it is the seventh OUA championship the school has hosted.

“We are very excited to welcome the top university curlers to the Oshawa Golf and Curling Club,” states Scott Barker, UOIT’s manager of intercollegiate athletics, in a news release. “This is a date every curler has marked on their calendar at the start of the academic year and we’re hoping to provide them with a memorable championship weekend here in Oshawa.”