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Record setter Peck-ed away...

Andrew Peck most prolific winner at junior men's curling championship

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However the coming days play out, Andrew Peck will walk out of his eighth and final provincial junior curling championship with his name etched in its history.

On Friday, the 19-year-old became the winningest curler ever to grace Manitoba's top junior men's bonspiel. He earned his record-setting 39th victory throwing lead rocks for skip Kyle Doering as the team rolled to an 8-3 win over Swan River's Carter Watkins. He's built on that record since, but that moment was a thrill.

"I think it's a pretty special event, especially in my last year, that I'm able to achieve that," Peck said on Saturday from the Portage Curling Club, where the Canola Junior Championships are in full swing.

He was already on the cusp. Peck curled nine years with skip Daniel Birchard, and last season that team -- which included Kelly Fordyce and Brody Moore -- tied Marc Lacroix' record of 38 wins at the championship.

Going into the final against Matt Dunstone last year, they needed just one more victory to set a new record as a whole team. But they fell to Dunstone's team, and the other three members of that Birchard rink aged out of junior this year.

In their absence, Peck joined up with 2012 Manitoba junior champion Doering, and planned to finish what he'd started.

"Once we didn't get it last year, I was like, at least I have two goals: Get to the provincials, and win one game," Peck said. "Obviously, winning the provincials is the major goal."

So far so good: After a solid 3-0 start, the Doering rink was sitting atop their red group standings in the round robin on Saturday afternoon. But the biggest challenges lay ahead, with a game against the other red-group leader Cole Peters rink slated for this afternoon. Beyond that, there is the playoffs: Doering still hasn't forgotten the tough loss against Dunstone in the Canola championships last year, the one that ended his attempt at a repeat.

"I think I thought about it every day since the provincial," Doering said of that one. "It'd be really great to come away with a win... But we'll definitely be tested a lot. You just never know in this sport."

Well, Doering has the pieces to do it. In addition to third Derek Oryniak, the team has a rock-solid new front end with the addition of Peck and P.E.I. curler Chris Gallant, who moved here to study engineering at the University of Manitoba.

He impressed Doering at the 2012 junior nationals, so the skip signed him up to throw second rocks. So far, it's worked out: the team has curled strong 2013 season, and won the big Brandon junior bonspiel last month.

Still, anything can happen, especially if the 2012 Manitoba junior champion and the 2013 reigning champ meet again in the playoffs. Doering knows Dunstone all too well: Both play out of the West Kildonan Curling Club, so they see each other regularly in their Tuesday night cash league.

That just adds a little extra twist to the friendly rivalry -- and of course, a feather in the cap of the historic curling club.

"Both teams have a lot of support from West K," Doering said. "The members are just awesome there."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 29, 2013 B6

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