Canada Cup opens in Yorkton

The $150,000 Canada Cup, presented by Richardson International, got underway Wednesday morning at the Farrell Agencies Arena in the Gallagher Centre, as 20 of the best men’s and women’s teams in the country battle for a berth in the 2009 Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials pool, in addition to the $25,000 pot which awaits each winner. Eight women’s teams were in action in the opening draw, which provided a couple of surprising results.  Edmonton’s Cathy King, winner of the 2006 Cup, trounced Saskatoon’s Stefanie Lawton, the defending champion, 10-4, while Regina’s Michelle Englot benefitted from a heavy last rock draw by Kelowna’s 2007 world champion Kelly Scott in her 7-6 extra end win. Other games saw Marie-France Larouche of St-Romuald, Quebec handle Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ontario, 8-5, while Regina’s Amber Holland dispensed with Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard, 8-5. The men’s game resulted in defending Cup champ Kevin Koe of Edmonton besting clubmate Ted Appelman, 7-2 after eight ends. The men’s and women’s teams have been seeded into two groups and play a round robin within the group plus a crossover game against a team in the other group.  The top two in each group then advance to a crossover Page Playoff system, whereby the group winners meet in one game (winner to final, loser to semi-final), while the group runners-up meet in another (winner to semi-final, loser eliminated). This marks the seventh year of competition for this unique event, formerly known as the Strauss Canada Cup when contested in Kamloops, British Columbia from 2003-2008. TSN will provide live coverage of the women’s and men’s semi-finals on Saturday, March 21, followed by the women’s (8:30 am CT/10:30 am ET) and men’s (7:30 pm CT/9:30 pm ET) finals on Sunday, March 22.  SaskTel Max Local on Demand is also airing all round robin draws, plus the Page Playoff games, province-wide, on a 24-hour delayed basis. The round robin continues today with draws at 12:30 pm, 4:30 pm and 8:30 pm local (Central) time. Edmonton’s Kevin Martin, coming off a record-setting performance in the Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary, plays his first game against Russ Howard of Moncton in Draw 2.