Crocker/Walker win creates domino effect at Canad Inns Mixed Doubles Trials

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, MAN. — Laura Crocker (Edmonton) and Geoff Walker’s (St. John’s) Draw 16 victory was notable for a few reasons. They came back from a six-point deficit — the largest seen at the 2018 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Trials — and completed the round robin with a perfect record at 8-0. But it also set in motion a domino effect amongst other teams in Pool B aiming for the playoffs. Crocker and Walker trailed Val Sweeting (Edmonton) and Brad Gushue (St. John’s) 6-0 after two ends but won 9-8 in an extra end. Sweeting and Gushue had the hammer in the extra and an opportunity to win, but Sweeting’s last rock was thrown heavy. Crocker and Walker’s comeback was attributed to putting five points up on the board in the third through sixth ends and taking advantage of Sweeting’s missed runback attempt in the eighth to score three points and force the extra end. The loss drops Sweeting and Gushue to 4-3 and also puts two other teams in the pool on equal footing as teams battle for one of the eight spots in the playoffs. Chelsea Carey and Colin Hodgson (4-3) stormed through Sherry Middaugh and John Epping (2-5). They started with the hammer in the game to score one and were even more efficient in the second and third ends with steals of two. After forcing Middaugh and Epping to one in the fifth, they cracked the game open in the sixth. Carey had a wide-open hit to score three points and take an 8-1 lead. Middaugh and Epping scored two with the power play in the next end but conceded 8-3. “We needed to bounce back from a game that I sort of handed to them earlier that we probably should have won but didn’t,” said Carey, referring to an 8-7 extra-end loss to Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris earlier in the day. “We’re still not in a bad spot, but we needed to come out and win that one, so it was a big recovery and a big bounce back for us.” Lawes and Morris also join the Sweeting/Gushue and Carey/Hodgson pairings at 4-3. Lawes and Morris relied on steals in the second half of the game to lock up a 5-4 victory against Kalynn Park and Charley Thomas (3-4). They tied the game 3-3 after the fifth end and stole singles in the sixth and seventh ends to take a 5-3 lead. Park and Thomas had a chance to tie the game in the eighth with the hammer but missed their final shot. “We made a few adjustments after game four or five that I think have come to fruition here for our team and I think we’re getting stronger,” said Morris. “We’re definitely good in those tight games now. We’re expecting every game to be tight and we’re just staying focused every end.” Marliese Kasner and Dustin Kalthoff (1-6) picked up their first victory at the Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials. They defeated Nicole Westlund-Stewart and Tyler Stewart (0-7) 10-4.

Brad Gushue, left, and Geoff Walker were opponents on Thursday afternoon in Portage la Prairie, Man. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

In Draw 15, Jocelyn Peterman and Brett Gallant (7-0) clinched top spot in Pool A by beating Sherry Just/Tyrel Griffith (3-4) 7-2. Three teams all notched their fifth wins, which keeps their playoffs chances alive. Jennifer Jones/Mark Nichols stole two in the final end to beat Dawn and Mike McEwen (2-5) 9-6 and improved to 5-2. Jill Officer and Reid Carruthers are now 5-2 after a 10-2 win against Emilie and Robert Desjardins (4-3). Nancy Martin and Catlin Schneider finished their round-robin schedule with a 5-3 record. Their narrow 7-6 victory against Kim and Wayne Tuck bumped the team down to 0-7. The 2018 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials round robin concludes today with draws at 7 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. (all times CST). The top two teams from each pool, along with the next four teams with the best win-loss records will enter the playoffs. The teams will play in a modified double knockout playoff to decide which four teams qualify for the Page playoff. Tiebreakers, if necessary, will be played Friday morning. Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2018 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials are available at 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