What a finish to the round robin portion of the Canadian Senior Men’s Curling Championship in Abbotsford, BC. Going into the final draw, Alberta was guaranteed a bye to the final while four other teams at 7-3 were toughing it out for the berths in the semi finals.
The match-ups seemed to favour two of the teams as Newfoundland & Labrador’s Glenn Goss faced PEI’s Charlie Wilkinson (with second Phil McInnis subbing for the injured Wilkinson) who only had 3 wins; and BC’s Dennis Graber facing New Brunswick’s Mark Armstrong also with only three wins. Ontario’s Brian Lewis put his 7-3 record on the line against a tough Quebec team skipped by Pierre Charette. Finally, Northern Ontario’s Robbie Gordon had the unenviable task of knocking off Alberta.
The first stones were thrown and the fun started.
On sheet F, NB’s Mark Armstrong stole a single in the 3rd end to go up one point on Graber. Then in the 6th end, Armstrong stuck a dagger into the BC playoff hopes with a 5 ender to go up 7-1!
BC snuck a deuce in the 7th and, when NB scored a single in the 8th, they almost conceded. But down 8-3, they played the 9th. Bad misses by NB led to Brian Windsor, throwing last stones for BC, making a short raise takeout to score 4! Back to only one down coming home without. A few misses by NB in the 10th had Armstrong looking at three BC counters with his last stone having to draw full four four but wide around two guards. And he makes it for the 9-7 win!
BC drops to 7-4 needing help from at least two other teams to squeeze into a tie-breaker.
They got some of that help when Alberta defeated Northern Ontario 7-4. Armitage of Red Deer finished the round robin at 10-1 and the bye to the final. Gordon, now 7-4, was on the sidelines hoping for an upset on at least one other sheet to stay alive with BC.
They didn’t get the help from Ontario as the Ottawa CC’s Brian Lewis controlled the entire game stealing one in the 8th and three in the 9th to stop Charette 9-3. Lewis was now at 8-3 and guaranteed a spot in the semi finals.
The night rested in the hands of NL versus PEI on sheet B. Goss and his St. John’s crew had their hands full with PEI, down 4-3 playing the 7th end. Geoff Cunningham, who throws last stones, made two nice shots in the 8th to score two and a one point lead. In the 9th, the NL team looked to be in line to steal one, but McInnis made a great 10 foot raise for a single tying it up coming home.
An uncharacteristic miss by Goss had them in trouble in the final end with their skipper having to draw full four foot for the win. A miss and Northern Ontario and BC are back in the mix. A make, they finish second. To finish off the wild night, Cunningham put it right on the button!
So, Alberta has the bye to the final and NL and Ontario meet in the semi final.
Two other games without any impact on the playoffs had Manitoba’s Kelly Robertson somewhat salvaging his week winning 8-4 over NS’ Dave McCusker. Robertson finished 6-5 as he prepares to represent Canada at the World Seniors next month in Denmark.
Saskatchewan’s Eugene Hritzuk put a pair of four enders on the board dumping Yukon’s George Hilderman 9-2.
Here are the playoff scenarios for the weekend:
Saturday, March 24 @ 2:00 pm – Women’s semi final
NS (Delahunt) vs NL (Cunningham) – winner to final / loser wins bronze
Saturday, March 24 @ 7:00 pm – Men’s semi final
ON (Lewis) vs NL (Goss) – winner to final / loser wins bronze
Sunday, March 25 @ 11:00 am – Women’s final
AB (King) vs winner of semi final
Sunday, March 25 @ 11:00 am – Men’s final
AB (Armitage) vs winner of semi final
Sunday’s winners will represent Canada at the 2013 World Seniors next April at a site to be announced.