Denyer has silver performance at Winter Games
By Darren Lum
Published March 13, 2018
Former Red Hawks curler Alyssa Denyer and her partner Max Blais came within a few points of striking gold at the Ontario Winter Games from March 1 to 4 in Orillia.
Denyer and Blais, who curl out of the Sudbury Curl club, earned their spot in the Ontario Winter Games under 21 mixed doubles going 4-0 at the provincial qualifier in Orillia at the end of January.
The Haliburton Highlands Secondary School alumna, who is studying at Laurentian University in Sudbury, admits she and her partner started the games slowly.
“Max and I started off the week not quite as strong as in the qualifiers, but as we played more games, got better and better we continued to make more and more shots! We finished the round robin with a record of 4-1 putting us in the gold medal game on unday against our fellow Northern Ontario team!” she said in an email.
The final ended 10-4 for Denyer’s opponents, Jacob Horgan and Kira Brunton.
Despite the final score, the game started very well for Denyer and her partner, who led 3-0 after the second end, but their opponents responded with three of their own to tie it up in the third. Denyer’s rink got one back to tie it 4-4 at the end of the fourth end. However their opponents weren’t done scoring and finished with seven unanswered points.
“We started off strong but after giving up a big end, we received silver,” she said in an email.
This experience wasn’t just for the competition. It was also special because of who Alyssa was able to share the experience with.
“Not only were both my parents there, but other friends and families from the curling clubs in Haliburton [County] showed up throughout the weekend to cheer us on! It meant a lot to have the support of my home clubs there with me,” she wrote.
Long-time coach Russ Duhaime, who has been coaching her for several years in high school and club, was also there.
“It was also wonderful to be able to experience our last chance at winter games with Russ, and I couldn’t think of a better way to close off my competitive junior curling career than with the man who essentially started it and has been there every step of the way, even after I moved to Sudbury,” she said.
Duhaime was impressed with how this pair performed.“Throughout the round robin, they maintained a very high level of play against some great teams. The difference in most games was their consistency. Alyssa and Max were able to keep calm under pressure and wait for their opportunity to pad their scores. They made shot after shot and just wore the other teams down,” he said in an email.
When it came to the final, Alyssa’s team started well, taking three points from steals (two in the first and one in the second), he added.
opponents, unfortunately, refused to let up. Neither team missed much
but their opponents were just a little more precise in the placement
of their shots,” he said of the gold medal game.
After this great run to end the season, Alyssa said the future is still a question mark as far as whether her coach will continue to be there or not.
As for her mixed team, she is looking to be the best in the Northern Ontario Curling Association with hopes to advance to provincials.
Duhaime is confident in Denyer and the potential for this pairs team.
“Mixed doubles is a relatively new twist on curling. Alyssa and Max are already among the best [under-21] teams in the province. With a bit of practice, they are capable of excellence at any level,” he wrote.