(FREDERICTON, NB) The UNB Reds men’s curling team is hoping home ice will be the advantage it should be.
The Reds will be the home team as the University of New Brunswick plays host to the 2019 U SPORTS Curling Championships, at Willie O’Ree Place, March 15-19.
“The team is so excited to be playing in the U SPORTS Championship again this year,” said skip Jack Smeltzer. “We are feeling confident.”
Smeltzer’s rink includes Alex Gallant, Evan MacKnight, Trevor Crouse and alternate Andrew Burgess.
They earned the silver medal at the 2019 Atlantic University Sport Championship, in St. John’s.
And while they’ll be playing at home, the Willie O’Ree ice will be as new to them as it will be to the rest of the eight team field.
Smeltzer feels being the home team has advantages and disadvantages.
“The biggest challenge may be keeping focused,” he said. “School work and friends can be a distraction when you don't travel for these kinds of events.”
“We’re so excited to be playing at home. There is already a lot of support before the event has even started. I think it can only help us.”
At the 2018 U SPORTS Championship, in Leduc, Alberta, the Reds emerged with the bronze medal. Not bad, considering they were a young group, playing together for the first time.
“We were essentially an all-rookie team at a national level,” said Smeltzer. “We definitely proved to ourselves that we belong there. Hopefully we’re able to improve on last year's result.”
The Reds are joined in this year’s championship by Alberta, Brock, Carleton, Dalhousie, Lethbridge, Memorial, and Western.
Round-robin action runs Friday through Monday morning, with semi-finals scheduled for Monday night.
The championship and bronze medal games will be played on Tuesday.