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Simmons to fight for another Trials ticket

Pat Simmons, a chiropractor by trade, makes no bones about it.

He’s thrilled to be back under the TV lights tonight, with another berth to the Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials at stake.  But the skip from Moose Jaw, SK. is just as concerned about the process as the result.

Simmons won a ‘B’-event semifinal on Friday morning over Toronto’s Wayne Middaugh by a 7-6 count in 11 ends, advancing to tonight’s ‘B’ final, beginning at 6:30 p.m. PT, live on TSN, at the Road to the Roar pre-Trials, presented by Monsanto, at CN Centre.

It’s his second chance in two nights to qualify for the Roar of  the Rings in Edmonton from December 6 to 13. On Thursday night, the No. 10-ranked Simmons dropped an 8-7 nail-biter in an extra end to Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton in the ‘A’ final of this triple-knockout tournament.

“Whether we win or not, you never know, but that’s all you can ask for at the end of the day, is to play well and give yourself a chance to win those games. And we’re doing that,” said Simmons, who plays out of the Davidson Curling Club of Davidson, Sask. “We’re playing pretty well this week so far. Hopefully we can carry that on tonight.”

Simmons will play Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen, seeded fourth this week at the CN Centre, in tonight’s ‘B’ final. McEwen knocked off No. 8 seed Ted Appelman of Edmonton 7-4 in Friday morning’s other ‘B’ semi.

Appelman will meet No. 9 seed Bob Ursel of Kelowna, B.C., in a ‘C2’ semifinal tonight in the 6:30 draw. Middaugh is also down to his last chance in the ‘C’ qualifying event, and will play the other ‘C2’ semifinal on Saturday at 10 a.m. PT against the winner of this afternoon’s ‘C2’ quarterfinal between 2006 Olympic gold medalist Brad Gushue and Jean-Michel Menard of St-Romuald, Que.

Against the No. 2-ranked Middaugh, Simmons hit and stuck in the four-foot ring for the winning point in the 11th end. It was his second victory against Middaugh at Prince George this week; he’d knocked off the 1998 Ford Worlds champion 9-6 in an ‘A’-event quarterfinal on Tuesday.

“I thought we were back a little sharper today. There’s probably one or two (shots) both teams would like to have back, but it was a good battle and we were just happy to survive it,” said Simmons.

“The deuce in (end) three (which gave Simmons a 3-2) lead was big, because from there we just managed the scoreboard,” he added. “The way it worked out, it held to the end.”

Simmons and McEwen squared off two weeks ago at the Cactus Pheasant Classic in Brooks, Alta., with McEwen winning that quarterfinal confrontation.

“Coming into this event, we wanted to give ourselves at least two chances to get to Edmonton,” said McEwen, who curls out of the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club. “We’re hopefully not going to leave anything in the tank, either this game or the next. If we keep playing like we are, I think good things will happen.”

McEwen threw two points up on the scoreboard in the first, fourth and sixth ends, but considered his deuce in the fourth against Appelman a pivotal point in their ‘B’ semi.

“We played the angle-raise off the wings. Ted had one on the back of the button, buried behind a couple, and we nutted it for two,” said McEwen. “It’s a tie game, or all of a sudden it’s 4-1. I think that was the shot that set the tone, as far as us being able to keep control the rest of the game.”

Elsewhere Friday morning, Ottawa’s sixth-seeded Rachel Homan ended Sherry Anderson’s hopes for a third straight Olympic trials berth, defeating the Saskatoon skip 8-2 in a ‘C2’ quarterfinal.

Homan will play a ‘C2’ semi tonight against No. 3-ranked Marie-France Larouche of St-Romuald, Que.

“We’re kind of on our last life here,” noted Homan. “We wanted to really build off those last ends (of a ‘B’ semifinal loss to Krista McCarville on Thursday evening).”

A four-ender in the third, added Homan, “put us in a good frame of mind to keep going and not let up, because we’d let up in a couple of other games this week.”

Anderson, a finalist at the 2001 Trials in Regina, ran out of chances to qualify for Edmonton.

“We started out really well our first game. Even our third game against (Kelly) Scott, we had our moments,” said Anderson. “After that, it wasn’t the best. (Homan’s team) played very, very well this morning. They didn’t miss a thing, and we had too many misses.  It would have been nice to play in Edmonton.”

Today’s 1 p.m. PT draw features the women’s ‘B’ final between the No. 1-seeded Scott rink from Kelowna and No. 9-ranked McCarville of Thunder Bay, live on TSN.