Tobers dreaming big ahead of junior provincials

Moosehorn sisters brimming with confidence

Talyia Tober of Moosehorn will rely on her experience at the 2018 junior women’s provincial curling championship as she leads her Assiniboine Memorial squad into the 2019 edition at the Heather Curling Club in Winnipeg from Jan. 3 to 7. Nathan Liewicki / Postmedia Network

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Talyia and Tansy Tober tasted victory at the Heather Curling Club earlier this season. A second victory would vault them into the junior women’s national championship.

The Moosehorn sisters — Talyia, 18, is the skip and is studying agriculture at the University of Manitoba, while Tansy, 16, plays third and is in Grade 11 at Ashern Central School — along with lead Morgan Maguet of Beausejour and second Bianca Dubois of St. François Xavier, captured the Manitoba Junior Curling Tour event at the Heather with a 4-3 win over Serena Gray-Withers on Oct. 21.

The foursome, which curls out of Assiniboine Memorial, played in five other MJCT bonspiels this season and reached the Westwood Inn Junior Curling Classic final in Swan River, only to drop a 6-5 decision to Gray-Withers on Nov. 4.

“We were kind of a new team put together this year so we were hoping to make a name for ourselves and we’ve done that,” Talyia told The Interlake Spectator. 

Clinching a spot in the 16-team junior women’s provincial championship, which takes place from Jan. 3 to 7 at the Heather club, at the fall berth bonspiel in Portage la Prairie on Nov. 25 only added to the confidence the Tobers and their new teammates have.

They earned their way into provincials with an 8-5 win over Katy Lukowich and her East St. Paul Curling Club team in the second of two qualifiers.

“The regionals are like a second chance at getting a berth but our goal was definitely getting a spot in Portage so we could have a month to get ready for the provincials, and have a down period where we could practice and not be playing all of these games,” Talyia said.

The girls also reached the semis at the MJCT Tour Championship at the Fort Garry Curling Club in early December, only to lose 7-2 to Gray-Withers,

It will not be the first trip to junior provincials for the Tobers either.

The sisters teamed up with Alyssa and Kira Tritthart of Hilbre (25 kilometres north of Moosehorn) last season and made their way to provincials in Altona where they posted a 1-6 record.

That one victory, however, came against playoff-bound Kaitlyn Payette of Brandon in the final pool-play game. The Moosehorn Curling Club crew stole three in the sixth end and won it 6-5 with a single in the 10th.

“Last year, I was not expecting to go to provincials. It wasn’t necessarily one of our goals just because I hadn’t been in competitive curling that long,” Talyia said. “The experience of going and just the atmosphere of being there was unreal. I’ve never experienced anything like that and I think this year that was one of the driving forces is I wanted to go back to that environment and experience that again.”

“Having the experience of going for the one year is definitely a huge asset going into the next one,” she continued. “It has definitely prepared me.”

Tansy agreed with her big sister.

“Last year at provincials was quite the experience for us because we did curl locally but all we were used to was club bonspiels and local stuff,” she said. “Getting the spot to provincials and curling on arena ice that was the most memorable experience for us and for myself. 

“I am excited to go back to provincials and glad that we got to reclaim that spot.”

Grade 11 student Tansy Tober of Moosehorn has her sights set high for the 2019 junior women’s provincial curling championship, which will be played at the Heather Curling Club in Winnipeg from Jan. 3 to 7. Nathan Liewicki / Postmedia Network

The Tobers and Trittharts also teamed up lead the Ashern Cobras to their first Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association girls’ curling title last March, claiming the school’s first championship banner since 1990 with a 7-2 win over the Dauphin Clippers in the A-B final in Winkler.

Nonetheless, the sister duos decided to split and the Tobers joined forces with Maguet and Dubois.

“Bianca is a very calming influence for me and my sister, and Morgan is kind of the jokester of us four and she keeps it light out there,” Tansy said. “Yes, it can get a little bit frustrating at times but that’s just the way the game goes. We win as a team and we lose as a team and we know that so we just like to have fun.”

The Assiniboine Memorial squad opens its seven-game pool-play schedule versus Victoria Beaudry and ends it against Gray-Withers. The Tobers will also battle Stacy Sime, Grace Beaudry, Presley Sagert, Manitoba’s 2019 Canada Winter Games representative Hayley Bergman and Meghan Walter, who lost the 2018 final to Shae Bevan.

Bevan, with third Randine Baker of Petersfield, is in the other eight-team pool looking to become the first skip to successfully defend her title since Shannon Birchard did so in 2012 and 2013.

Tansy believes her team has a strong chance to contend for a playoff spot and possibly more.

“I remember sitting down with our coach (Debbie Popovic) this year and she said, ‘You guys can win it this year at provincials. You’ve just got to go out there and do it, you have the potential to do it.’” Tansy recalled. “That really sunk in and I feel like it’s right there and we can reach it. We just have to go out there and do it.”

Talyia has a similar belief.

“Our goal is to enjoy the event because you curl better and if we enjoy the event we will curl better,” she said. “We hope to be there on the final day but whatever the outcome is the outcome is and I’m so thrilled to go back and I can’t wait to go and try again and hopefully improve on our record from last year.

“It’s an amazing experience to be one of the teams that could represent Manitoba at the Canadian juniors.”

The Canadian juniors will be held in Prince Albert, Sask., from Jan. 19 to 27.

Twitter: @liewicks

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