Skip Hayato Sato (Coquitlam) turned in a masterful performance in the finals and received solid support from their teams in earning gold before another excellent crowd at the Pidherney Centre.
The team had finished the round-robin with 9-1 win-loss records before earning a berth into Saturday’s championship final.
Sato, third Joshua Miki (Port coquitlam), second Dawson Ballard (Surrey) and lead Troy Chong (Burnaby) recorded a five-ender in the seventh end to break open a tight game in recording a 7-2 victory over Ontario’s Daniel Del Conte.
Del Conte, third Nykolas Moore, second Samuel Guilbeault and lead Vincent Barbon shook hands with the victorious team after Sato removed an Ontario stone near the back of the house for the pivotal score of five.
“My goodness, just looking at the shot (for five) and waiting to finally make it … we got that five-ball and they shook hands and my knees were just trembling there,” admitted an elated Sato. “It was an incredible feeling. We were already sitting three and every shot is huge, so I just took that extra moment to make sure (he made the shot for five).”
Sato didn’t miss much all day, curling 90% in the final in which B.C. scored two in the first end before three blank ends. Del Conte came back with two of his own in the fifth end before another blank in six. The blanks weren’t easy, though, as Sato made a pair of circus shots.
“After we got the deuce we knew it would be a crucial two points and we were just feeling them out,” said B.C. third Joshua Miki. “We wanted to see if we could weed out any mental errors and see how they wanted to play this game.
“In the third end our skipper (Sato) made a huge double, run-double and bailed us out again and then he made that cross-house double coming back towards the glass (in the fourth end). He really bailed us out there a few ends,” said Miki.
“We were trying our best not to give them easy deuces and it came down to a real tight game and we took our opportunities when we needed to,” said Sato. “I had to make a few good shots there just because I got myself into trouble with a few of my bad calls, but my sweepers held all the rocks and they did great.”
It was B.C.’s first curling gold medal for a men’s team.
“It came down to basically who had last rock and we were happy to have it (in the seventh end),” said B.C. coach Bryan Miki, who is also Joshua’s dad. “Hayato made some big shots, just phenomenal, but he’s been doing it all week.
“At the beginning of the week we all sat down with a sports psychologist and the rest of the boys said they wanted to just make the playoffs and Hayato came out and said, ‘I want to win gold,’ and he made his own dreams come true. He was just determined and you could see it,” added the coach, who is a former Brier and World Champion from 2000. He was just as delighted with this win.
“It’s twofold. I told the other coaches that we went to the U-18s last year and we didn’t fare well, so we just regrouped and refocused. But I’m also a parent coach, so for my own son to win it and to see that is pretty special,” Bryan said.
Sato echoed those sentiments.
“I can’t even put this into words,” said Sato. “We came into this week thinking we’ll take it one game at a time. Things went well, we got a few lucky breaks along the way and kept our momentum. Everyone played really well and left me with easy shots.”
The B.C. team now gets ready for U-18 provincials in Victoria.