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Ottawa @ CWG Day 2: Ottawa athletes get first-day jitters out of the way

(This article was first sent to subscribers of the free Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive it below!)

Day 2 Recap: Curling squad gets first-match jitters out of the way

By Mark Colley

Despite all her family’s accomplishments, none of Aila Thompson’s relatives had ever been to a Canada Winter Games.

Her entire family plays curling, a trend that started with her grandpa on her dad’s side. Cousin Lindsay Dubue is currently competing at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts as second for Team Grandy, the B.C. representatives.

But when Thompson stepped on the sheet at Silver Fox Entertainment Complex in Summerside, P.E.I. Sunday morning, she became the first member of her family to compete in the Canada Winter Games.

“[Lindsay’s] done Canadian juniors, she’s at the Scotties, and I’m like, I got Canada Winter Games,” Thompson said. “I was like, ‘Oh my goodness! It’s a new one.’”

Thompson, from Manotick, is joined by Ava Acres, Liana Flanagan and Mya Sharpe on the Team Ontario women’s curling squad. On Sunday, the rink from the RCMP Curling Club lost 7-5 to the Northwest Territories in their first action of the Games.

The match started well for the local group, with Ontario going up 5-3 after the sixth end. But the Northwest Territories tied the match in the eighth and put it away with two points in the extra end.

Thompson chalked the loss up to the team’s nerves.

“When we get nervous, we kind of lose that communication and it’s a really, really big, important part of our game,” she said. “It was a mix of excitement and nerves … I got that out of my system so I’m like, ‘whew, I can breathe.’”

Regardless, Thompson said the team wasn’t upset with the result.

“We’re not mad about it,” she explained. “It was so much fun to be out there and to play against new people and to play in the atmosphere of the curling rink, especially with all the parents out there and the cowbells and hearing all the chants.”

Team Ontario will face Newfoundland and Labrador today at 9 a.m. ET. The goal for Thompson is to have fun.

“Play relaxed and play loose,” she said. “Don’t let the nerves get to us, because when we have fun and when we play loose, everything comes after that.”

Ringette squad crushes Saskatchewan in preliminary action

The Games couldn’t have started any better for Ontario’s ringette team.

Led by an astounding 10 players from Ottawa, Team Ontario blew out Saskatchewan 9-1 to get their Games underway. Laiya Evraire scored two goals, while Julia Wilson and Taylor Forrest contributed one goal and two assists each.

Ontario led 4-0 after the first quarter, putting the finishing touches on the hot start with a goal from Danika Osborne with just two seconds left on the clock.

The arena at Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre in Montague, P.E.I. hosted yesterday’s Ottawa vs Saskatchewan ringette games. Photo: Paul McLeod/Canada Games

“We got a huge lead to start the tournament, which was great, and finished the game off strong, which was a great way to set the tone for the week,” Forrest said.

She said the team adjusted throughout the game, depending on how Saskatchewan attacked. But she also warned that today’s matchup against Nova Scotia may be difficult because it’ll be the maritime province’s first game of the tournament.

“They’re definitely gonna come in pumped and ready to play,” Forrest explained. “We gotta bring our A-game again.”

The experience of the Games has been “surreal” for Forrest.

“We’re meeting people from all over the country,” she said. “Just to be in an atmosphere with a bunch of different athletes, different sports, it’s amazing and the energy is just so much fun.”

Forrest started in the sport at age four or five, when her parents wanted to teach her how to skate. She said one of her parents’ friends encouraged them to put her in ringette to learn, then switch over to hockey later.

“I just never switched over. I just fell in love with the sport,” Forrest said. “Whenever I was younger, any other sport I would do I was like, ‘uh, uh,’ and whenever it was ringette I’d be like, ‘Okay, I’m ready. Let’s go.’”

Now, competing at one of the biggest ringette tournaments in the world, Forrest wants to ensure she makes the most of her experience.

“Just to take in everything and really make sure I’m present and keep my memories for a long time,” she said.

Men’s hockey gets comfortable win over B.C.

The memory of that moment is something Peter Legostaev will never forget. The faceoff, the tap, the chip and the celebration — hands in the air, a nod to the heavens, then mobbed by teammates.

Legostaev’s goal on Sunday — Ontario’s first at the Games — helped propel the men’s hockey team to a 7-4 win over British Columbia at Credit Union Place in Summerside, P.E.I.

Ontario got out to a 4-1 lead before allowing B.C. to nearly tie it up 4-3. But Ontario was able to close it out with a pair of late goals.

“It was a little bit tough at the end of the second, but in the dressing room, [the] coaches pumped us up [and] gave us confidence to perform,” Legostaev said.

He said scoring the first goal was important for getting the team on the right track.

“The first game is always the most important, because it gets the momentum going,” explained the Smiths Falls Bears player – one of six local players from the Hockey Eastern Ontario U18 ‘AAA’ league along with Quinn Beauchesne, Tristan Boudreau, Maasilan Etchart, Chase Hull and Harry Nansi.

At 3 p.m. ET today, Ontario will face off against Team Alberta. Alberta is coming off a resounding 4-1 win over Nova Scotia yesterday and is a physical team, Legostaev said.

“Making sure we match them physically” will be one of the keys to winning, he said.

Day 3 Preview: Medals up for grabs in biathlon and freestyle skiing

The biggest challenge of biathlon is the instantaneous transition between skiing at full intensity and shooting with laser-like precision — and that will be on full display today, when four local athletes from Chelsea Nordiq will have a chance to shoot for some of the first medals to be awarded at PEI 2023.

Long-time friends since their days as Kanata Nordic jackrabbits, Rachel Lambley and Ella Niedre will be racing in the women’s six kilometre sprint at 12:30 p.m. ET, while Antoine Gendron and William Ng are competing in the men’s 7.5 kilometre sprint at 9:00 a.m. ET.

Both events will test these athletes’ ability to switch from high intensity to high precision in a matter of seconds.

Ella Niedre. Photo provided

“There’s been situations where I’ve been standing right beside somebody and it’s either I win or I don’t based on how I shoot,” Niedre said. “When you’re standing right beside someone hearing their targets go off, it’s definitely hard to get into that mindset … It could cost you the whole race.”

Niedre caught mono in May of last year, sidelining her for the entire summer. As a result, she expects her racing time may be slower than it was last year — but she said she’s grateful just to be in P.E.I. in the first place.

Also in action today will be Matthew Lepine, who could flip his way to the podium in the men’s slopestyle competition, which starts at 12 p.m. ET. Lepine is the youngest competitor in freestyle skiing at the Games, but that’s nothing new for the 14-year-old — he was also the youngest skier at the Nor-Am Cup last season.

In addition to more action in women’s curling, ringette and men’s hockey, Iman Shaheen will also get her Games started in the female individual squash round of 16 (10 a.m. ET). Desmond O’Shaughnessy will represent Ottawa in wheelchair basketball against Alberta, also at 10 a.m. ET.

You can stream all the action live at

You can also visit (and bookmark!) our Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games central webpage for links to all the schedules, and to access all of our Games coverage in one place:

(This article was first sent to subscribers of the free Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive it below!)

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