Tonight’s semi final was action-packed with terrific shots and unusual scenarios but, much to the disappointment of the pro-Quebec crowd, Ontario’s Cory Heggestad edged Montreal’s Mike Fournier 9-8 in an extra end.
The first end was played clean when Quebec’s attempted guard with the first stone of the game slipped into the house. Ontario’s Cory Heggestad easily blanked the 1st end.
The second end was different though with eight stones in the house guarded and Quebec lying two without the hammer. Heggestad made a nice raise take-out leaving Quebec shot stone but surrounded by four yellow Ontario counters. Fournier, as he has done all week, calmly drew through a small port, corner freezing to the low side of Ontario’s second shot. Heggestad had a difficult slash off his own stone to the pile in the four foot for multiple points. As the full house, pro-Fournier fans held their collective breath, Heggestad just missed leaving Quebec with a steal of one and the early lead at 1-0.
Fournier forced Ontario to a single in the 3rd, the score now tied.
Stones were all over the place in the 4th end with Ontario sitting one in the four foot behind a wall of guards. With his first stone, Fournier played a quiet weight in-turn ‘tick’ off one of stones in the twelve foot, re-directing it on to Ontario’s shot stone to lay two buried. Heggestad had to play a wide out-turn to the edge of the four foot for shot but was a touch heavy and wide, staying in the four foot but now third shot. Fournier calmly drew his final stone to it and counted a big three points. The Glenmore CC skip now led 4-1.
Determined to get back in this game and not let it get away from him, Team Ontario played a well executed 5th end forcing Fournier to only a hit on third shot stone leaving Heggestad a draw to the four foot for three. Which he made of course and, at the break, the score was tied at 4.
The 6th end looked promising for Fournier, at one time with three red stones counting. Heggestad dashed any hopes of a big end with a nice double take-out and roll forcing Fournier to draw for one and 5-4 lead.
Fournier had his Ontario counterpart chasing for most of the 7th end with two red stones in the house and a single corner guard. With his first stone of the end, Heggestad made a terrific hit and roll underneath the guard. Fournier tried to freeze for shot stone but was a touch heavy sliding off the shot stone leaving Ontario a routine hit and stay for two points and their first lead of the game at 6-5.
In a wild 8th end of cat and mouse, Fournier and Heggestad shared six stones in the four foot area, another five stones in the house and four guards out front leaving Fournier a difficult draw to the side of the button for two. But he was heavy taking only the single and the game was tied at 6 with only two ends to play.
Fournier again had Ontario in trouble with a stone solidly frozen in the button area in the 9th. Guard after guard were cleared away by Ontario and a steal of one appeared inevitable. But Fournier’s last stone guard came a little too deep allowing Heggestad to make a double raise take-out to skinny shot stone out of play, scoring two. Ontario leads 8-6 coming home.
With only one guard in play but a couple of Ontario stones in the house, Fournier kept moving stones around to set up his game tying deuce when Heggestad first missed the double take-out, then missed a hit and roll. A draw to the eight foot was successful for Fournier.
8-8 playing the extra end; the drama continues in Montréal!
Fournier had the steal working in the extra frame, guarding a stone just off the button and Ontario peeling them off. Fournier’s first stone and attempt at the guard over-curled a few inches. Heggestad came around with the in-turn and tapped shot stone to the back twelve foot. Fournier tried to play a quiet weight tap back and roll but rolled too far to the back twelve to lie two. Heggestad comfortably made the winning draw to the eight foot to win 9-8 and earn his team a chance at the national mixed title.
Ontario’s Heggestad, Heather Graham, Greg Balsdon and Amy Mackay will face Brent MacDougall and his CFB Halifax crew of Christina Black, Kris Granchelli and Jane Snyder in the title game.
Saturday’s champion final is scheduled for 2:00pm EST at the TMR Curling Club.
Nova Scotia has won 7 national championships and the most of any province or territory since 1990. The latest was 2004 Brier champion Mark Dacey in 2010. Ontario has won only two national titles: Dave Van Dine of Ottawa in 1986 and John Epping of Oakville in 2006.