Royals curling team off to OFSAA

The Ridgetown Royals got a bonus after beating the Leamington Lions last Wednesday.

The win sent the Royals to the SWOSSAA boys curling final and landed them a berth in the OFSAA championship bonspiel.

The Eric Van Maanen skipped Royals defeated the Lions 7-6 in the SWOSSAA tournament’s semifinals at the Blenheim Golden Acres Curling Club.

Before taking on the Sarnia St. Patrick’s Fighting Irish for the SWOSSAA championship, they learned they were going to the OFSAA bonspiel March 22-25 in North Bay.

“We didn’t know. We were all pretty excited,” Royals’ coach Deb Reitberger said.

The Royals have the 2019 Ursuline Lancers to thank for their OFSAA berth.

The Lancers’ boys team won the silver medal at the last OFSAA bonspiel in 2019 as the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the 2020-22 provincial championships.

Because of the Lancers’ medal four years ago, SWOSSAA earns two berths toOFSAA this year.

“It took the pressure off,” Reitberger said of beating St. Pat’s to go to OFSAA.

The Fighting Irish – who beat the Royals 13-2 in the LKSSAA final and 11-0 in their regular season meeting – beat Ridgetown for a third time 12-3 in the SWOSSAA final.

“They’re a strong team,” Reitberger said of St. Pats. “But we’ve still only lost to one team all year.”

Ridgetown went 5-0 against the rest of the LKSSAA in the regular season and was dominant in an 8-2 win over Ursuline in the LKSSAA semifinals.

The Royals – skip Van Maanen, vice Nathan Towsley, second Liam Duffy and lead Brandon Stirling – will practise three or four times this week before leaving for North Bay on Tuesday to prepare for Wednesday’s opening day action.

This is Ridgetown’s first OFSAA team since 2011, when skip Rob Ingram and his rink of Crawford McKinlay, Bill Brien, Willy Boldt, and Paul DeNijs won both LKSSAA and SWOSSAA but did not medal at the provincials.

Michael Bennett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News