Richmond curler clutches up at Junior Nationals to keep playoff hopes alive

Johnson Tao's BC team finishes round-robin play with 3-3 record after big win over Alberta

Johnson Tao needs to clutch up again today at the Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Langley.

Team BC #2 — comprised of the Richmond Curling Centre’s Tao at skip, third Toby Mills, second Connor Kent, lead Michael Nunn — helped create a logjam to conclude pool play with a big win over Alberta on Tuesday.

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A loss to Ryan Jacques would have ended BC’s playoff hopes.

With the game tied at 4-4, Tao had the final and potentially winning rock in his hand; an open hit and stick against an Alberta rock biting the top eight-foot being the only barrier between continuing to pursue the podium at the 2020 New Holland Canadian Junior Championships and the agony of being eliminated from contention.

“I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous,” said Tao. “It was a routine shot but I was nervous.”

Throwing board weight and allowing his sweepers to doctor the rock as required down the sheet, Tao made no mistake and removed the Alberta shot stone from play for the dramatic 5-4 win. 

“I thought we played a solid game overall. At the start, we were a little shaky here and there getting caught by a few small things. By the second half, we had really picked it up. We rallied back and won it today.” said Tao.

None of Tao’s British Columbia #2 rink have ever competed at a national event prior to these Canadian Juniors, but all showed the composure of wily veterans in high pressure situations. 

“I really need to credit coach Vic (Shimizu) and Curl BC High Performance for getting us this far,” said Tao. 

It will be an all-BC sudden-death tiebreaker game today in Langley with Tao taking on Team Sato after both finished pool play with 3-3 records.

The men and women’s finals take place on Sunday. 

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