It was an exciting finish to round robin play at the 2015 CIS – Curling Canada Championships on Friday as playoff positioning was finalized in Draw 12 at the K-W Curling Club.
Entering the last draw, fourth place in the standings was up for grabs in both the men’s and women’s draw. The Toronto Varsity Blues and the Winnipeg Wesmen squared off with the winner advancing to the final while the Guelph Gryphons faced a must-win game against Thompson Rivers on the women’s side.
Toronto and Winnipeg went back and forth over the course of their game but the Varsity Blues entered the tenth end with a one-point advantage after skip Evan Lilly made a double takeout in the ninth end to give his team a 6-5 lead.
A well-played final end came down to the final rock. With his team lying one, Wesmen skip Kyle Doering found a port in front of the house and took out Toronto’s rock on the back of the four foot to score two and take the game 7-6, securing fourth place in the standings.
In women’s play, the Gryphons needed to hand the Wolfpack their first loss of the championship in order to avoid a tiebreak with the Brock Badgers and the UPEI Panthers.
With their season on the line, Guelph fell behind early but rallied behind skip Katelyn Wasylkiw. The Gryphons scored singles in the sixth, seventh and eighth ends to pull within one of Thompson Rivers as they trailed 6-5 heading into the ninth end.
However, perhaps Guelph’s bigger enemy was the clock. With time winding down on them in the ninth end, the shrinking clock put pressure on the Gryphons and they missed two shots late, giving the Wolfpack and skip Corryn Brown three points and the victory.
The result forced a tiebreak and the final playoff spot would be determined by the pre-game draws to the button. Based on 12 of their best 14 draws during the pre-game practice sessions, UPEI was awarded the final playoff spot as the AUS silver medalists advanced to the medal round.
Earlier in the day, the top three places in men’s and women’s draw were finalized. The Alberta Golden Bears snagged first place in men’s action as they opened the day with an 8-6 win over the host Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks in a battle of the unbeatens. Skip Thomas Scoffin and his squad followed that up with wins over the Dalhousie Tigers and the UNB Varsity Reds to finish the round robin with a perfect 7-0 record.
The Golden Hawks, despite the loss to Alberta, clinched second place in their next game as they knocked off the Wesmen 8-3. In their final game of the day, skip Aaron Squires and his team rallied from a 6-2 deficit to defeat the Western Mustangs 8-7 in an extra end.
The Saint Mary’s Huskies grabbed third place as the AUS silver medalists went 2-1 on the final day, defeating Toronto and UNB before losing their final game to Dalhousie.
Aside from the win over Guelph, Thompson Rivers came out on top on the women’s side by going a perfect 7-0 in the round robin. The Wolfpack escaped a pesky Brock Badgers team in their first draw of the day. Despite TRU going up 5-0 after five ends, Brock battled back to trail 7-4 going into the tenth end, where they would pick up three to force the extra. However, the comeback would fall short and Thompson Rivers would stay undefeated heading into their final draw against Guelph.
The Alberta Pandas would clinch second in the women’s standings with two close games on day three. First, Kelsey Rocque and her rink narrowly edged out the UPEI Panthers in 11 ends. In their final game, Alberta would win a close match against the Saint Mary’s Huskies 4-3 that had a total of four blank ends.
The host Golden Hawks rebounded from a tough day two, easily handling the Gryphons 9-3 in nine ends to secure their spot in the playoffs before defeating the Brock Badgers 8-2, also nine ends.
Semifinal matchups, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, will be the Alberta Golden Bears against the Winnipeg Wesmen, and Laurier Golden Hawks taking on the Saint Mary’s Huskies on the men’s side. The women’s playoffs will be Thompson Rivers versus UPEI, and Laurier taking on Alberta.
The winners will move on to the finals while the losers will play for bronze with both games going at 2:30 p.m.