Ferguson/Bottcher, Crocker/Walker undefeated at Canad Inns Mixed Doubles Trials

PORTAGE LA PRAIRE, MAN. — Val Sweeting and Dana Ferguson have won two silver medals together at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, so it was a little strange for the teammates to play against each other at the 2018 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Trials. Ferguson and mixed doubles partner Brendan Bottcher squeaked out a close 7-6 victory against Sweeting and Brad Gushue thanks to scoring two in the eighth end while on the power play. Were there any bets on the game between the 2014 and 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts silver medallists? “No. We should have probably, but I never actually thought of that. There was no real discussion about the game and what was going to happen,” Ferguson said, noting it was odd to play her skip at the Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials. While Ferguson and Sweeting, didn’t have any bets on the game, it did improve Ferguson/Bottcher’s record to 2-0 during the competition at Stride Place. The teams started the game with some conservative ends. Sweeting took advantage of an open draw for two in the first end supplying her team with an early 2-0 lead. While Sweeting/Gushue maintained control of the scoreboard, Ferguson/Bottcher hotly contested it. Ferguson made a precise draw to the side of the button in the second end and her team stole a point in the third, tying the game 2-2. Sweeting and Gushue were set up for a deuce in fourth end and got back to a two-point lead, but a missed hit by Sweeting in the fifth end allowed Ferguson to take advantage of her accurate draw weight for two points, tying the game 4-4. After playing catch-up for much the game, the Ferguson/Bottcher pairing took its first lead of the game with a steal of one in the sixth end. But the lead wasn’t safe. Sweeting/Gushue utilized their power play in the seventh end, setting Sweeting up with a hit for two and 6-5 lead and Ferguson/Bottcher responded by using their power play in the final end of the game. “With the power play if you make all of your shots, they’ve got to make a really good shot to not give you two,” said Bottcher.

Dustin Kalthoff sweeps with encouragement from partner Marliese Kasner. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Ferguson and Bottcher are not the only undefeated team in the pool. Laura Crocker and Geoff Walker maintained their untarnished record with a victory too. Crocker/Walker were in a closely contested game against Kaylnn Park and Charley Thomas, who also won their first game of the championship. The pair had a 4-3 lead heading into the sixth, but cracked it open in typical mixed doubles fashion with a score of five and 9-3 win. The win secured their spot at the top of the pool heading into the final draw of the day at 9:45 p.m. (CST). “Look at the field, right? You get off to an 0-2 start and it makes it tough. It’s a lot of clawing and grinding every game, so this is nice. You don’t want to obviously take your foot off the pedal but it’s nice to start 2-0 for sure,” said Walker. In the 1:30 p.m. draw Shannon Birchard/Jason Gunnlaugson defeated Kim and Wayne Tuck 10-6; Jill Officers/Reid Carruthers doubled Jennifer Jones/Mark Nichols 6-3; Emilie and Robert Desjardins won their second game in a row after beating Sherry Just/Tyrel Griffith 8-6; Nancy Martin/Catlin Schneider needed an extra end to pick up a 7-6 win against Dawn and Mike McEwen. The 2018 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials continue with draws today at 7 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. (all times CST). Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2018 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials are available at www.curling.ca/scoreboard/. CBC Sports is providing streaming coverage of the 2018 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials round-robin draw, with playoff games being broadcast on CBC Sports TV. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule. For ticket information for the 2018 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials, CLICK HERE. This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at https://www.curling.ca/?lang=fr