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Ontario men remain atop the Blue Pool

Can anybody stop the Ontario’s red-hot Greg Balsdon team at the Dominion Curling Club Championship in Richmond, B.C.?

So far five teams have tried, and all of them have come away bloodied and beaten.

Team Ontario at The Dominion Curling Club Championship (Photo Yadranka Thompson and The Dominion)

Balsdon’s crackerjack unit from Richmond Hill remained the only unbeaten team in the national club championship Thursday afternoon after defeating Donald Clarey’s Prince Edward Island outfit 5-3 to remain atop the Blue Pool and secure at least a tie-breaker position in the race for Saturday’s playoffs. Balsdon has one game left to play and knows the worst that can happen is a tiebreaker.

The top two teams in each pool advance to the playoffs.

The loss effectively knocked Clarey out of the playoff hunt with his third loss of the competition.

“We’re playing very well,” said Balsdon, shortly after stepping off the ice. “We need to win our last for sure to get into the playoffs. But all the guys are playing well, making shots and we have a pretty good grasp on draw weight.”

Balsdon admitted it was no piece of cake against the Islanders who were fighting for their own playoff lives.

“It was a really well curled game,” he said. “They made a lot of come-arounds, tap-backs and some soft-weight stuff to put us into some serious trouble.”

The difference was a cool draw against one in the sixth end by Balsdon.

“It was big for us,” said Baldson. “I don’t make that and we’re only up by one playing seven, and if they force us they got the hammer in eight and it’s a dicey.”

Newfoundland-Labrador’s Paul Harvey kept hard on the heels of the Ontario crew, improving to 4-1, after a 6-4 victory over winless John Monroe of Quebec. The win moved the boys from The Rock into a second-place tie in the Blue Pool with Saskatchewan’s Brad Bibby, who had the afternoon bye.

The Newfoundland team can still finish in first place with a win Friday morning against P.E.I., and a Saskatchewan win over Ontario. That would create a three-way tie for first place, but Harvey would win the tie-breaker based on a pre-tournament draw-to-the-button contest.

Meanwhile, Alberta’s Wade Thurber of Red Deer climbed into a first-place tie with Manitoba’s Barry Mandryk atop the Grey Pool Thursday with an 8-3 win over winless Mel Sittichinli of the Territories. A four-ender in the fifth end was the crushing blow for the Albertans.

Manitoba and Alberta are locked at the top with 4-1 records and have clinched tiebreaker playoff spots. Northern Ontario’s Dale Dubinsky of Kakabelka Falls and Dwight Hodder of the host province British Columbia are their closest pursuers, with records of 3-2, and are still mathematically alive for a playoff spot. They collide in the final round-robin game Friday.

Dubinsky edged Yukon’s Scott Hamilton 7-6 and Hodder dumped New Brunswick’s Barry Lewis 8-5 to stay in touch with the leaders.

Round-robin play continues until Friday with the final draw, with the finals set for Saturday afternoon.

The Dominion Curling Club Championship is Canada’s first national championship for men’s and women’s curling teams at the club level. The event is fully funded and operated by The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company. The Dominion is a proud supporter of curling across Canada and has been a strong supporter of the Canadian Paraplegic Association for over 13 years. Canadian owned and operated since 1887, today The Dominion is one of the country’s largest home, car and business insurers. Get to know The Dominion by visiting thedominion.ca.