New leaders at Mixed

Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia have inched ahead at the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship after 13 draws at the Morris Curling Club. Prince Edward Island, skipped by Robert Campbell of Charlottetown and Nova Scotia, directed by Paul Flemming of Halifax, are knotted at 7-1 through play Wednesday evening, while Manitoba and Ontario are just a breath away at 7-2. Campbell, who won the 1989 Mixed in Brandon, when the championship was last held in Manitoba, had a perfect day, defeating British Columbia, 8-7 and Saskatchewan, 7-5. Flemming, a two-time Mixed champion, having won in 1999 and 2003, also directed his ‘bluenosers’ to a pair of wins, 9-3 over Northwest Territories/Yukon, and, in a key encounter, 6-4 over former leader Manitoba, in the evening draw.  Flemming is trying to join Saskatchewan’s Larry McGrath as the only skips to win the Mixed on three occasions. A battle for first place will be on the line Thursday morning, when the two leaders meet. Manitoba, skipped by Terry McNamee of Hamiota, had to settle for a split, winning its morning match against Alberta, 7-5, before the night time defeat.    Ontario, meanwhile, notched two victories under skip Chris Gardner of Arnprior, a 9-7 decision over Northern Ontario, and an extra end 7-6 squeaker over New Brunswick’s Charlie Sullivan of Saint John in the nightcap. The loss dropped New Brunswick to 6-3, alone in fifth place, but still ahead of Alberta (Tim Krassman of Medicine Hat) at 4-4, as the top five have begun to separate from the field. Northwest Territories/Yukon (Steve Moss of Yellowknife) is at 3-5, followed by Northern Ontario (Craig Kochan of Thunder Bay), British Columbia (Tom Buchy of Kimberley) and Saskatchewan (Steven Slupski of Moose Jaw) at 2-6. Newfoundland and Labrador (Gary Wensman of Labrador City) is at 2-7, while Quebec (Simon Hébert of St-Romuald) trails with a 1-7 mark. Play continues with three draws on Thursday and a final draw in the round robin on Friday morning, after which the first place team advances directly to Saturday’s final, while the second and third place teams meet in a semi-final following any required tiebreakers. Alberta leads all provinces with nine Mixed titles since the championship began in 1964 in Toronto.  Manitoba and Saskatchewan are next with eight Mixed crowns apiece. Prince Edward Island has two wins, the last by Campbell in 1989, while Nova Scotia, with seven titles overall, is the defending champion, having won last season in Burlington with skip Mark Dacey.   Ontario also has two wins, the last in 2006. Two players from the winning team will represent Canada at the World Mixed Doubles Championship, slated for April 15-24 in St. Paul, Minnesota.