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Simmons makes a B-line to Edmonton

Pat Simmons of Davidson, SK., rebounded from an A qualifier defeat to advance to the Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials in Edmonton next month with 7-5 B–qualifier decision over Mike McEwen of Winnipeg Friday night at the CN Centre.

In an exceptionally well-curled encounter, the turning point finally arrived in the eighth end when McEwen, tossing an in-turn draw past a guard for a deuce, watched his rock grind to a halt short of the target.

McEwen trailed by a point at the time and was angling for a one -point lead. Instead, the score was tied and Simmons cracked a killing deuce in the ninth frame and denied McEwen a way back in playing the 10th.

“We were solid tonight and they made us earn every bit of it,” said Simmons afterward.  “We just hung in there. We’ve been good at that this season. We’ve been so mentally tough. We’ve always bounced back.

“We’re thrilled. We just can’t wait for Edmonton and it’s nice when you can look back and say you played well enough to earn it. In Edmonton, obviously we’re going to have to play the same way. So we might as well start now.”

Simmons’ entry includes third Gerry Adam, second Jeff Sharp and lead Steve Laycock. And the win leads to the first  Olympic Trials for each of them.

McEwen said he thought his last rock in the eighth end picked.

“There’s a very good chance, I think, that if that hadn’t picked in the eighth, we’d have won the game,” said McEwen. “It definitely picked up something. It suddenly just lost all its weight.  I don’t think there were many mistakes on either side. If Pat missed anything it was a really tough one.

“If we play well tomorrow we should still squeak into Edmonton. If you’d have told us at the start of the week we’d be in two qualifying finals, we’d have taken it.”

The McEwen team faces Jason Gunnlaugson in an all-Winnipeg C1 qualifier this morning at 10 a.m. PT, live on TSN.

In C2, Jean-Michel Menard of St-Romuald faces Wayne Middaugh of Toronto in a semi-final on the same 10 a.m. draw, with the winner going against Bob Ursel of Kelowna at 5 p.m. for the last men’s qualifying berth, also live on TSN.

Gunnlaugson advanced Friday night by stealing a point in the ninth end and two in the 10th for a 9-7 duke when veteran Kerry Burtnyk’s last-rock draw for the win was burned by a sweeper.  Television replay people reported recordings showed the rock was struck by Burtnyk’s second player Richard Daneault’s brush. Estimates on whether the rock would have reached the four-foot ring were divided.

Ursel reached the C2 final by eliminating Ted Appelman of Edmonton 6-5.

In a late-draw women’s C2 semi-final, Ottawa’s Rachel Homan watched her last draw to the four-foot in the 10th end die in front of the rings with Marie-France Larouche of St-Romuald, Quebec sitting three counters, enough for a 9-7 heist.

Larouche moves against Amber Holland of Kronau, SK, in the C2 qualifier tonight at 6:30. Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater tackles Kelly Scott of Kelowna in the C1 qualifier at 11:30 a.m. Both games will also be shown live on TSN.