It was a difficult week for many of the top-ranked teams at the German Masters in Hamburg with Team Ulsrud (NOR), Team Bottcher (CAN), Team Murdoch (SCO) and Team Brewster (SCO) all failing to advance past tie-breakers. Team Smith (SCO) was the highest ranked team to make it to the semi-finals where they played Team Timofeev (RUS). The Scots took a 2-0 lead in the 2nd end of their semi-final and then exchanged single points with the Russians in the 4th through 7th ends before running Team Timofeev out of rocks in the 8th end for a 4-2 victory. The other semi-final progressed very similarly with Team Walstad (NOR) scoring two points in the 2nd end then exchanging single points with Team Liu (CHN) until the game ended at 5-3.
In the final, Team Walstad and Team Smith were tied 3-3 after exchanging single points over the first six ends, including a stolen point for each team. The Norwegians took control of the game when they scored three points in the 7th end then ran Team Smith out of rocks in the 8th end for a 6-3 victory and their first WCT title of the season, aside from a local event in Norway, after reaching two previous finals.
Glynhill Ladies International
Many of Europe’s best women’s teams were in Scotland for the Glynhill Ladies Championships including Team Tirinzoni (SUI) who were looking to defend the title they won last season. The round-robin was highly competitive and saw European champions Team Moiseeva (RUS) and Team Tirinzoni failing to qualify for the playoffs. The quarter-finals were mostly without drama aside from the game won by Team Kubeskova (CZE) over Team Hegner (SUI) which went to an extra end.
In the semi-finals, Team Muirhead (SCO) took control of their game against Team Hegner by scoring three points in the 6th end to take a 6-3 lead and held on for a 7-5 victory. Meanwhile, Team Paetz (SUI) led Team Sigfridsson (SWE) 3-2 after four ends but then scored three points in the 5th followed by a steal of one in the 6th for a 7-2 victory.
The final saw the two teams go back and forth with Team Muirhead taking a 4-3 lead in the 4th end. The crowd favourites then took control of the game by stealing three points in the 5th and another in the 6th end for an 8-3 victory and their second WCT title of the season. For its part, Team Paetz seems to have turned a corner following a difficult start to their year, following-up their victory in Bern last weekend with a runner-up finish in Scotland.
From the Hack caught up with Anna Sloan of Team Muirhead following their victory at the Glynhill Ladies International. The interview can be found HERE
Ed Werenich Golden Wrench Classic
In Tempe, Team McEwen (MB) and Team Casey (SK) were the only teams to go through the round-robin undefeated and both teams won their quarterfinal games on Sunday morning defeating Team Thomas (AB) and Team Brown (MN) respectively.
The semi-finals both got off to strange starts with Team McEwen scoring four points in their game against Team Korte (SK) and Team Casey (SK) taking a 6-0 lead over Team Dunstone (MB). Team Dunstone managed to close the gap, forcing Team Casey to score a point in the 8th end to secure a 9-7 victory while Team Korte was unable to make a charge in their game, eventually losing 8-3. In the final, Team McEwen broke the game open by stealing three points in the 2nd end to take a 4-0 lead on their way to a 6-1 victory over Team Casey. It was the second title of the season for Team McEwen.
United States Junior Curling Championships
In the women’s event at the U.S. Juniors, Team Dubberstein, Team Bear and Team Runing all from Minnesota, qualified for the playoffs with Team Dubberstein finishing first in the round-robin thus earning a direct spot in the final. In the semi-final, Team Bear scored four points in the 5th end to take a 5-2 lead over Team Runing. The two teams then exchanged single points with Team Runing in the 6th and 7th before stealing a point in the 8th end to seal a 7-4 victory.
In the final, Team Dubberstein scored three points in the 2nd end followed by another three points in the 4th end to take an early 6-1 lead over Team Bear. Team Dubberstein then stole three more points in the 6th end to make the score 9-1 and win the United States Junior Women’s Championship. They will represent the U.S. at the World Junior Championships next month in South Korea.
In the men’s event, Team Connolly of Washington, Team Hodek of North Dakota and Team Stopera of Illinois were the three teams that made it into the playoffs. Team Connolly won the 1 versus 2 game over Team Hodak by scoring three points in the 10th end for a 7-6 win. In the semi-final, Team Hodek took an early 3-0 lead by stealing single points in the 2nd and 3rd ends only to see Team Stopera respond with two points in the 4th and a single point in the 5th end to tie the game at 3-3. The two teams went back and forth in the second half of the game with Team Hodek scoring a single point in the 10th end to tied the game at seven and send it to an extra-end. Team Stopera took advantage of last rock in the extra-end to score one point for an 8-7 victory.
In the final, Team Connolly took a 3-2 lead when they scored two points in the 5th end only to see Team Stopera score two points over their own in the 7th end. After Team Connolly tied the game in the 8th followed by a blank in the 9th, Team Stopera scored one point with the hammer in the 10th end for a 5-4 victory. Team Stopera will now join Team Dubberstein in representing the United States at next month’s World Junior Curling Championships in South Korea.
Listen to interviews we did with Andrew Stopera and Annmarie Dubberstein following their victories at the U.S. Junior Championships HERE
British Columbia – Women
At the 2017 BC Scotties, Team Mallet of Maple Ridge, Team Hudyma of Vancouver, Team Gushulak of New Westminster and Team Wark of Chilliwack were the four teams to qualify for the playoffs. Defending champions, Team Thompson of Kamloops, had a disappointing week and finished the round-robin at 2-5.
In the Page Playoffs, Team Mallett defeated Team Hudyma in the 1 versus 2 by scoring two points in the 6th end to take a 3-1 lead and then stealing two points in the 7th and another point in the 8th to win the game 6-1 and move directly into the final. Meanwhile, in the 3 versus 4 game, Team Wark too a 4-2 lead by stealing a point in the 5th end against Team Gushulak who then scored three points in the 6th end to take a 5-4 lead. Team Wark tied the game 5-5 in the 7th, the two teams then exchanged deuces which left Team Gushulak with the hammer in the 10th end where they scored one point for the victory and a trip to the semi-final against Team Hudyma.
The semi-final was tied 1-1 after four ends when Team Gushulak stole two points in the 5th end, a single point in the 6th and another two points in the 7th to take a 6-1 lead. Team Hudyma came back with two points in the 8th and then stole a single point in the 9th but Team Gushulak held on for a 6-4 victory and a spot in the final against Team Mallett.
The final was strategically played and worthy of a championship game with Team Mallett and Team Gushulak tied at 3-3- after eight ends. In the 9th end, Marla Mallett made a soft tap for two points to give her team a 5-3 lead heading into the last end where they stole a point for a 6-3 victory. It will be Marla Mallett’s first Scotties since 2009 when she lost the final to Jennifer Jones.
Northern Ontario – Women
As expected, the field at the Northern Ontario Scotties was dominated by Team Fleury of Sudbury and Team McCarville of Thunder Bay who are both ranked in the top twenty in the world. The two teams finished tied at 5-1 in the double round-robin, splitting their two games.
In the final, Team McCarville stole single points in the 4th and 5th ends then stole two points in the 6th end to take a 5-1 lead. The teams then exchanged deuces in the 7th and 8th ends to put Team McCarville ahead 7-3. Team Fleury narrowed the gap by scoring three points in the 9th end but Team McCarville responded with three points of their own in the 10th end for a 10-6 victory. It is the 2nd straight year victory at the Northern Ontario Scotties for Team McCarville who will head to St. Catharines for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts where they lost in the final last year against Team Carey.
Prince Edward Island – Women
In the 2017 PEI Scotties, Team MacPhee of Charlottetown won both the A and B events in the modified triple knockout format before losing in the C event final to Veronica Smith and her team, also from Charlottetown. The result was that Team MacPhee and Team Smith met in the Championship Round. In the final, Team Smith took a 4-0 lead over Team MacPhee when they stole three points in the 3rd end and took a 5-3 lead in the 6th end. Team MacPhee scored two points to tie the game at 5-5 in the 8th end then stole single points in both the 9th and 10th ends for a 7-5 victory. This will be Robyn MacPhee’s 8th appearance at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, her second as a skip.
Prince Edward Island – Men
In the 2017 PEI Tankard, Team Gorveatt and Team MacKenzie, both of Charlottetown, qualified for the Championship Round in the modified triple knockout format. In the first game of the Championship Round, Team MacKenzie fell behind 4-0 in the first end but came back with the help of stolen points in the 3rd, 6th, 7th and 10th ends on their way to a 9-7 win and setting-up a final “winner-take-all” game. Team MacKenzie took early control of the final game by stealing points in the first four ends including a deuce in the 2nd to take a 5-0 lead. Team Groveatt scored single points in the 6th and 7th ends but Team MacKenzie scored three points in the 8th to win the game 8-2. Eddie MacKenzie, Anson Carmody and Robbie Doherty will be returning to the Brier after going 2-9 last season while playing for skip Adam Casey. PEI will have to qualify for the main draw by winning the Pre-Qualifying Tournament or “Play-In Round” against Nova Scotia, Yukon and Nunavut.
WEEK 24 PREVIEW
The focus during Week 24 of the 2016-17 curling season will be on the Canadian Junior Championships and on Provincial Playdowns, specifically women’s playdowns taking place in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland/Labrador and Saskatchewan.
Canadian Junior Championships
The Canadian Junior Curling Championships are taking place this week in Victoria BC. The pre-event favourites in the men’s event are Team Horgan of Northern Ontario and Team Tardi of BC who won the silver and bronze medals respectively at last year’s Canadian Juniors. Both teams have played well this season on the World curling Tour with Team Horgan receiving an invite to a Grand Slam event where they defeated Team Laycock of Saskatchewan in one of their games.
In the women’s event, the co-favourites are British Columbia and Nova Scotia. Corryn Brown and her team from BC have played four events on the World Curling Tour this season winning a title in China. Team Clarke of Nova Scotia includes three players that won the Canadian and World Juniors last year when Mary Fay skipped the team.
Scotties Tournament of Hearts Playdowns
In Jiffy Lube Alberta Scotties Championships, Team Sweeting will look to win it’s 3rd provincial championship in four years. With Team Carey already qualified as defending Scotties champions and with Team Rocque not participating in playdowns this season, the path to the Scotties would have seemed fairly barren to Team Sweeting earlier this season. However, Team Scheidegger goes into the playdowns having won four events including a Grand Slam and Team Chyz goes into the playdowns having won four events of their own this season. A such, Team Sweeting likely remain the favourites but they will certainly be tested along the way.
At the Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts presented by Monsanto, Team Jones is looking to qualify for their 13th Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Among the top challengers will be defending Manitoba champions Team Einarson who won a Grand Slam event earlier this season and Team Englot who have won an event this season and lost in the final of the Tour Challenge Grand Slam.
In Melville, at the Viterra Scotties Saskatchewan Tournament of Hearts, several teams are having inconsistent seasons will battle for the championship. The 2016 provincial champions, Jolene Campbell and her team from Regina, have yet to qualify for the playoffs in an event this season and have not qualified for provincials. Team Lawton, who won the event in 2014 and 2015, have not made it past the quarterfinals on the World Curling Tour this season and are 52nd in points this year on the WCT. Although there are no clear favourites in Saskatchewan this year, the door might be open for Team Eberle to qualify for their first Scotties or perhaps allow Sherry Anderson to qualify for her 9th trip to the national championships.
There will be eight teams doing battle at the Nova Scotia Scotties Tournament of Hearts and several of them have a chance to make some noise this week. Team Brothers, the defending champions, have had a good season winning two events while perennial favourites Team Arsenault and Team Breen are always a threat despite the fact neither team has won an event on the WCT this season. Team McConnery and Team MacDiarmid, who both won events on the East Coast this season, could also challenge for the playoffs and the title.
At the New Brunswick Scotties Championships in Miramichi, Sylvie Robichaud and her team will be looking for a “three-peat”, having won in 2015 and 2016. They will likely face a challenge from Melissa Adams and her team from Fredericton.
The Newfoundland & Labrador Women’s Scotties will likely come down to a battle between perennial favourites Team Strong and defending champions Team Curtis. Neither team has played much this season but Heather Strong has been to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts on 12 occasions and Stacie Curtis has represented NL at three Scotties including last year.
Tim Hortons Brier Playdowns
There will be much attention given to the Newfoundland & Labrador Men’s Tankard because Team Gushue, the #1 team in the world, will be looking to qualify for the Tim Hortons Brier that will be held in their hometown of St. John’s. Team Gushue has not lost a single game in the Newfoundland & Labrador Tankard since 2010.
(Photo Credits: Team Murhead – Leslie Ingram Brown, Team McEwen – Tom Stokes Photography, Team Dubberstein and Team Stopera – Rich Harmer)