One team is full of past champions, intimately familiar with the big stage and boasting one player so experienced, she's just tied a long-standing Manitoba record for national curling appearances.
The other team is full of raw rookies, including two who had never even played in a provincials before they won it Tuesday and boasting a skip who just last year was playing lead on a losing team.
They couldn't be more polar opposites, these Kaitlyn Lawes and Sam Good teams.
But they've got one thing very much in common now -- they're both going to represent Manitoba later this month at the Canadian junior curling championships.
And they're both thrilled with the prospect, but for different reasons.
"I'm in shock," said Lawes, who gets a rare opportunity to defend the Canadian junior title she won last year. "It's hard to believe... "
Lawes scored only three times in winning yesterday's final, 8-5 over Ste. Anne's Alyssa Vandepoele. But when she scored, she scored big -- cracking three-enders in the second and seventh ends and stealing what proved to be a back-breaking deuce in the ninth end.
Lawes was supported by third Jenna Loder, 20, second Laryssa Grenkow, 20, and lead Breanne Meakin, 18. Grenkow previously won three Manitoba junior titles curling with Calleen Neufeld from 2005-07 and with yesterday's fourth title, she ties a record previously owned by Patti Wuthrich, who won four junior titles from 1974-77.
Like Good, Lawes took the long route to the championship, losing the 1 vs. 1 game Monday night but then setting up rematches with victories in the semifinals Tuesday morning. Lawes defeated La Salle's Sabrina Neufeld 6-3 in the semifinal to face Vandepoele in the rematch, while Good defeated Pembina's Jim Coleman 5-4 in the semifinal to earn the right to face Portage's Michael Johnson a second time in two days.
While Lawes was elated yesterday, her thoughts also turned to her father, Keith, who never lived to see his daughter go to the nationals, dying last winter just before Lawes went on her first Canadian run. "I wish he were here with me," Lawes said. "It's still very satisfying, but it's also bittersweet."
Good, 18, on the other hand, is still coming to grips with winning a provincial title in what was the first trip for both himself and second Kent Moffitt, 19. Third Taylor McIntyre, 17, and lead David Wiebe, 18, are the veterans on the squad, having curled now in a grand total of two provincials.
Indeed, this team is so green that the skip was curling lead on a different team just a year ago, and struggling mightily with his draw weight.
He had no such problems yesterday, however, coolly drawing the eight-foot with the last rock of the game to score his game-winning deuce and secure the title with a 5-4 win over the previously undefeated Johnson.
"We were just trying (this week) to hang around with teams that had higher expectations than we did," said Good, an 18-year-old engineering student at U of M who came into the event seeded 10th. "My goal was to make the playoffs. The pressure was on them not us."
While Good is still green when it comes to curling, he comes from a family with deep roots in the game. The grandfather after whom he is named, Sam Good Sr., was a competitive curler who won the Free Press event at the 1958 MCA Bonspiel. His father, Scott Good, is the icemaker at the Balmoral Curling Club, while his uncle, John Good, makes ice at the Stonewall Curling Club.
Draw helps Manitoba teams at Canadian Open
The four Manitoba curling teams competing later this month in the $100,000 Canadian Open at MTS Centre dodged a bullet yesterday with the announcement of the draw.
Eighteen teams will compete in three different pools Jan. 21-25 and the four Manitoba teams are fortunate not to be in the same pool as defending world champion, curling juggernaut and No. 1 seed Kevin Martin of Alberta.
Kerry Burtnyk and Mike McEwen will play in the same pool, which will be led by No. 2 seed Glenn Howard of Ontario. Jeff Stoughton and Reid Carruthers will also compete against one another in the same pool. Their pool is led by No. 3 seed Kevin Koe of Alberta.
Because they're in different pools, the draw means the earliest a Manitoba team would have to compete against Martin is in the playoffs.
Perhaps the best matchup of the week with a Manitoba flavour will come on the very first draw when former world champion Burtnyk faces a team on the rise in McEwen. That draw takes place at 8 p.m., Jan. 21.
Stoughton plays Carruthers in the 1:30 p.m. draw on Jan. 23. That same draw will also see Burtnyk play Howard.
Another notable draw will see Martin play 2006 Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue and Stoughton play Randy Ferbey, both on Jan. 22 at 8:30 p.m.
Plenty at stake in Salmon Arm
Up next for 2009 Manitoba junior curling champions Kaitlyn Lawes and Sam Good:
What: The Canadian Juniors.
When: Jan. 31-Feb. 8.
Where: Salmon Arm, B.C.
Fast facts: Kaitlyn Lawes is attempting to become the first skip to win back-to-back Canadian junior women's titles since P.E.I.'s Suzanne Gaudet did it in 2000 and 2001... Good is attempting to become the first Manitoba junior men's skip since 2002 (David Hamblin) to win a Canadian junior men's title... The winners in Salmon Arm will go on to represent Canada in Vancouver at the World Juniors, Mar. 5-15... The World Juniors is being used as a test event for the new curling venue that will be in use during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.