Qualifier champs!

The Alberta Pandas celebrate their 2022 FISU Qualifier victory over the Regina Cougars (Photo, Curling Canada/Claudette Bockstael)

Dalhousie and Alberta win 2022 FISU Qualifiers

The roaring game lived up to its name on Sunday afternoon as the 2022 FISU Qualifiers drew to a close at the RA Centre for Curling Excellence, where the men’s and women’s finalists took to the ice.

On the men’s side, the Dalhousie Tigers (5-1; Owen Pucell) defeated the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (4-3; Sam Mooibroek) by an 8-5 score, while the University of Alberta Pandas (6-0; Abby Marks) went undefeated at the qualifier downing the Regina Cougars (4-3; Krystal Englot) 11-4 in eight ends to earn FISU qualification spots.

“Oh my goodness. I’m really excited,” said Dalhousie Tigers skip Owen Purcell after the win. “It feels great. Just the chance to get to wear the Maple Leaf is fantastic.”

The men’s final was a veritable barn-burner between the two teams.

The Dalhousie Tigers, rounded out by third Adam McEachren, second Jeffery Meagher, lead David McCurdy, alternate Caelan McPherson and coach Anthony Purcell, found their stride immediately in the first end. What looked to be a large score of four or potentially even five looming, they would only end up scoring a deuce as Purcell’s final stone pick attempt was a little heavy and ran straight, missing its intended target altogether. 

“You have to look at it for what it is,” said Purcell about the missed opportunity for a big score in the first end. “We scored two in the end and if you were saying that we could score two in the first end before the game even started, that’s a fantastic way to start the game.”

The ends that followed would be tightly contested. The Tigers leveraged a few Golden Hawks misses and would apply pressure in the fifth end, leaving the Golden Hawks a short but difficult runback double to get out of trouble and potentially score a single. The Golden Hawks runback attempt would end up nosing, resulting in a steal of one for the Tigers, who led 4-2 at the break.

The Dalhousie Tigers watch Owen Purcell’s final stone successfully pick out a Wilfrid Laurier stone in the 10th end for the win (Photo, Curling Canada/Claudette Bockstael)

The Tigers would maintain their momentum and steal another point in the sixth before forcing the Golden Hawks in the seventh end where skip Sam Mooibroek faced an incredibly difficult angle-raise takeout on his final stone to salvage a single point, making the score 5-3 in favour of the Tigers.

Sensing a change in momentum, the Golden Hawks continued to rally.

A stellar team draw dragged into place by the sweepers in the eighth end manifested into a steal of one for Wilfrid Laurier. Mooibroek and his Golden Hawks team went back to the same well in the ninth, leaving Tigers’ skip Owen Purcell a difficult shot to blank but ended up jamming for another steal, setting up for an exciting finish tied 5-5 after nine ends of play.

With hammer in the tenth, the Tigers kept a tidy house, only needing to remove a single Golden Hawks stone to clinch the 8-5 victory.

Purcell credits his team for an extremely well played game that led to the victory.

“The guys played great,” said Purcell. “I missed a couple shots that game. It wasn’t my finest work but the guys played a really solid game which allowed us to get ahead early and hold onto that lead and get that hammer in the last end”

The women’s final was markedly more one sided as the Alberta Pandas dominated the Regina Cougars, taking the final by an 11-4 score.

“Feels pretty good,” said skip Abby Marks when asked about their performance in the women’s final. “The team played great and we stuck to our game plan. That’s all you can ask for.”

The Pandas, completed by third Catherine Clifford, second Brianna Cullen, lead Paige Papley, alternate Serena Gray-Withers and coach Amanda St. Laurent, were sharp right out of the gate scoring two with the hammer in the first. After forcing Regina to a single in the second end, the Pandas found purchase in their attack via a walloping haymaker in the third end scoring five, making the score 7-1.

Despite the deficit, the Cougars fought to claw back. They’d respond with a two of their own in the fourth and trade singles with Alberta for four ends after, but as the desperation for offense mounted, so did the degree of difficulty of their shots which never mounted enough pressure to close the gap on the scoreboard. 

The Cougars would eventually concede the match in the eighth end, cementing the Pandas the 11-4 win.

“Super excited to represent the country in Lake Placid,” said Marks. “Looking forward to it.”

Linescores, team rosters, draw schedules and more information are available at curling.ca/2022fisuqualifier/

This story will be available in French as soon as possible at curling.ca/2022fisuqualifier/nouvelles/?lang=fr

Curling Canada