Manitoba's Braden Calvert is one victory away from winning the Canadian junior men's curling championship.
Calvert's team from Winnipeg — third Kyle Kurz, second Lucas Van Den Bosch, lead Brendan Wilson and coach Tom Clasper — clinched first place in the round-robin and a bye to Sunday's gold-medal game with a 5-4 win over Alberta's Carter Lautner on Wednesday.
With the victory, Manitoba improved to 8-0 and gained the necessary tiebreaker advantages to clinch first place and the bye to the final.
"That's a pretty neat feeling," said Calvert, whose team defeated reigning Canadian junior men's champ Matt Dunstone in the Manitoba final. "The boys have played so well in front of me; they just made my job so easy all week."
Now, the issue becomes how to deal with nearly four full days of thinking about the final, with two round-robin games to play and a day off on Saturday.
"I think our team is great at staying loose and trying to have fun all the time," said Calvert with a smile. "I think we'll be OK that way. We brought a PS3 and NHL14, so we'll be pretty busy at that. We'll hopefully be able to take our minds off it a little bit."
In other men's championship pool games, New Brunswick's Rene Comeau (6-2) turned back Saskatchewan's Tyler Hartung (5-3); B.C.'s Cameron de Jong (4-4) shaded Ontario's Ryan McCrady (5-3) 4-3; and Nova Scotia's Robert Mayhew (5-3) doubled Northern Ontario's Tanner Horgan (5-3) 10-5.
In women's championship pool play, Alberta's Kelsey Rocque suffered her first loss after seven straight wins, bowing 6-3 to Nova Scotia's Mary Fay (6-2); B.C.'s Kalia Van Osch (6-2) doubled Ontario's Molly Greenwood (5-3) 4-2; and Manitoba's Meaghan Brezden (5-3) beat Saskatchewan's Kristen Streifel (4-4) 7-6.