Rhys Gamache has gone where no Tunnel Town junior has gone before and he isn't finished yet.
The 20-year-old Langara student is part of a "super rink" that will be representing B.C. at next month's Canadian Junior Championships after dominating the recent provincials in Coquitlam.
Gamache plays lead for Langley skip Tyler Klymchuk. The team also includes second Corey Chester and third Sanjay Bowry, who are both from the Victoria Curling Club. The foursome came together after losing members of their respective rinks a year ago to graduation. Needless to say, they were the team to beat at provincials.
Klymchuk's crew lived up to the hype, rolling to a perfect 7-0 record, including a 9-4 victory over Team Tardi in the championship game. The 2013 M&M Meat Shops National Junior Curling Championships will take place in Fort McMurray, Alta., from Feb. 2-10.
"There was lots of pressure," said Gamache. "It's very difficult to run the table like that but we did a good job of staying focused, sticking to our game plan and letting the outcome take care of itself."
With his parents being regulars at Tunnel Town, Gamache knew enough about curling but didn't give it a try until his Grade 10 year at South Delta secondary school. He would go on to curl at the high school level, helping a SDSS rink qualify for back-to-back provincial championships. He would go on to curl for a junior team out of the Langley Curling Club.
Klymchuk was impressed enough in Gamache to ask him to fill in at a bonspiel. He would later jump at the opportunity to be onboard permanently.
The commitment at this level is immense. Team Klymchuk plays on Wednesdays in the Royal City Premium League out of New West. Gamache and Klymchuk also travel to the Island on Sundays for regular training sessions.
A busy fall schedule has included a steady diet of high-profile men's tournaments, including three World Curling Tour events. They also participated in the Cloverdale Cash Spiel, the Valley First Crown of Curling in Kamloops and the Vancouver Island Shootout. The experience has brought them closer together and prepared them for the tough road ahead.
A B.C. team hasn't won the junior men's nationals since 2000. This foursome figures to be a serious threat to represent Canada at the Junior Worlds which will take place in Sochi, Russia (Feb. 28-March 10), host of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
When he is not on the ice, Gamache is in the gym working on his strength which has helped his reputation of being a standout sweeper.
Gamache has somehow juggled school and a part-time job with his curling workload but he can now see the light at the end of tunnel.
"It's taken a lot of work and dedication to get this far," he added. "This was an opportunity I couldn't pass up on and it's exciting to think what we still can accomplish."
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