January 20-21 saw the Niagara Knights curling teams open their 2017 season with a trip to the annual Humber Hawks Bonspiel. The young Niagara College men's and women's teams used the event to develop strategy and gain valuable experience competing at the post-secondary level.
On the women's side, the Knights finished with a record of 1-3-1. The team defeated the St. Clair Saints 11-3, and battled to a 5-5 draw with the Fleming Knights. The team had tight games with Mohawk and Fanshawe, losing by a combined three points. The lone blemish on the day came at the hands of the host Hawks.
"We easily could've been 3-2 this weekend" said second year head coach Jordan Thin. "It was very productive for the team, as changes we need to make are clear and achievable. I think we were a bit rusty coming off a five week stretch of reduced practice and game play, but the ceiling is high for Provincials."
On the men's side the Knights focused primarily on gaining critical experience for the upcoming OCAA Championship tournament. The Knights feature three first year players, and despite finishing outside of the win column, Thin is confident his team will improve.
"We are a very green bunch and but the experience was very productive. Our men got better with each game and frankly could've been 2-3 if you change just two shots."
The event saw a pair of Knights rookies named to the bonspiel all-star team. On the women's side, first year vice Courtney Smith (St. Catharines) was impressive in her Knights debut, while men's team skip Samuel Steep (Seaforth) was named to the all-tournament men's team.
The Knights will play host to the annual Niagara College bonspiel on Friday, January 27th at the Welland curling club. The event gets underway at 9:00am and participating colleges include Mohawk, Fleming, Fanshawe, and Seneca.