Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for September 19, 2013

Scoffin gives new-look Martin rink a scare in season opener

In a matchup of master versus pupil, Whitehorse skip Thomas Scoffin came up just short.

By Marcel Vander Wier on September 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm

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Photo submitted

HIGH HOPES – Whitehorse skip Thomas Scoffin has his sights set on a national junior title this season. Photo courtesy AMBER BRACKEN/EDMONTON SUN/QMI AGENCY

In a matchup of master versus pupil, Whitehorse skip Thomas Scoffin came up just short.

In his first game of the new curling season last Thursday, 20-year-old Scoffin squared off with Canadian curling great Kevin Martin at the Shoot-Out at the Saville Centre.

The youngster built an early lead after scoring a deuce in the first end, but eventually dropped the match 6-4.

“I think it was awesome, really,” the U of A junior skip said. “If you’re going to start off against a good team, why not the best, right?

“It was pretty much everybody’s first spiel of the year, so they’re still working out the bugs. So are we. So you get to jump on a few mistakes they’ll make and obviously we made a few as well, but it turned out pretty cool.”

After three ends, Team Scoffin was leading 3-1 and the whispers of an upset began.

But Martin, a four-time Brier champion and defending Olympic gold medallist, scored a triple in the fourth and would not relinquish the lead again.

Playing with Dave Nedohin at third in place of long-time third John Morris, Team Martin would eventually settle in to win the World Curling Tour event with a 6-0 record.

Team Scoffin would finish the Shoot-Out 1-3, but the game versus Martin was the highlight.

“It was definitely unique,” Scoffin told the Star. “It was pretty cool, but at the same time, we’re just going out there ...

We play the same game no matter who we play.

“At first, you can kind of get excited about it and maybe there’s that thought of an upset in the back of your mind, but towards the end of the game, they out-teamed us and made some big shots to come back and win.”

Martin wasn’t the only skip dealing with a lineup change.

Scoffin was playing his first game with a revamped Junior Golden Bears lineup, which now includes second Jaques Bellamy from Edmonton and lead Andrew O’Dell from Fredericton, N.B. Both players are up-and-coming stars on the curling circuit.

Scoffin’s rink, which included twin brothers and former junior world champions Bryce and Landon Bucholz last year, lost 4-3 to Manitoba in the 10th end of the championship game at the junior nationals in Fort McMurray.

Third Dylan Gousseau is a holdover from last season’s silver medal-winning team.

“With our success last year, we wanted to make sure that we were able to have the chance try and do that again,” Scoffin said. “Obviously, it’s a lot of work to get back to where we were, but our team we put together definitely has the potential.

“We came so close last year and it hurt a bit to lose that final. It’s a long road, but it’s my goal to get back to that final and to win it for sure.”

Scoffin is entering his sophomore year at the University of Alberta, where he is studying sport and recreation.

Like Martin, his rink curls out of the Saville Sports Centre.

University of Alberta curling coach Rob Krepps said the sky is the limit when it comes to Scoffin’s future.

“Thomas is somebody who we have been aware of for a long time,” Krepps explained. “We worked very hard to get him here at U of A. I think it was an easy thing in the end, because Thomas really wanted to be here as well.”

Krepps said he believes Scoffin has similar skills to current varsity skip Brendan Bottcher, who led the university to both junior national and world curling titles in 2012.

“He’s a terrific young man and a terrific curler,” Krepps said of his Yukon skip.

“By the time he gets to Brendan’s age, he’ll be every bit as good. They’ll be pushing each other for years and years.”

Krepps said he was impressed with Scoffin’s poise when facing Martin.

“They played really well and actually had a chance to win,” he said. “You know, the 16th seed and a junior team to boot playing against a skip who by all accounts could be the greatest of all time, I think that’s pretty good what they did.”

The game served as a good starting point for the new-look Junior Golden Bears in their quest for gold.

“They’re a really solid young team,” Krepps said. “If they play to their capabilities, I don’t see any reason why they can’t do the types of things that we’ve done in the past. I’m really comfortable and confident in saying that Thomas’s team will be a force to be reckoned with on the junior front this year, and they’ll do some damage when they play in WCT (World Curling Tour) events as well.”

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