WEEK 25 RESULTS
The Winter Universiade in Almaty, Kazakhstan involved several teams that have tasted success at the World Curling Tour level. The women’s field was headlined by Team Moisseeva (Russia) that won the 2016 European Championships earlier this season and Team Kim (Korea) that is ranked 14th in the world and won the 2016 Pacific-Asia Championships in November. The field also included Kelsey Rocque and Taylor McDonald of Canada who both play for the 8th ranked team in the world when not representing Canada, and the University of Alberta, at the Winter Universiade. The men’s field included Team Walstad (Norway), Team Mouat (Great Britain) and Team Eskilsson (Sweden) who are all ranked among the top 40 teams in the world.
The round-robin portion of the women’s event saw Canada finish first overall with a 7-2 record while Great Britain, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland finished tied at 6-3. The Swiss team, skipped by Briar Hurlimann, defeated Great Britain in a tie-breaker to set-up a semi-final round that would see Russia play Sweden and Canada play Switzerland. In the men’s round-robin Great-Britain finished undefeated at 8-0 followed by Sweden at 7-2, Czech Republic at 6-3 and Norway at 5-4 setting up semi-final match-ups of Great Britain vs Norway and Sweden vs Czech Republic.
In the women’s semi-finals, Canada took a 4-1 lead over Sweden with two points in the 5th end then took control of the game by scoring two more points in the 7th end for a 6-2 lead on their way to a 7-4 victory. In the other semi-final, Russia scored a point in an extra end to defeat Switzerland 8-7 in a game that started quickly with the two teams exchanging three-enders in the 2nd and 3rd ends.
In the women’s Bronze Medal game, Sweden took a 3-0 lead in the 3rd end then exchanged single points with Switzerland for the remainder of the game on their way to a 6-3 victory. In the women’s Gold Medal final, Canada took a 4-0 lead when they stole two points in the 3rd end but Russia made things interesting in the 7th end when they scored two points to cut the lead to 5-3. Canada scored one point in the 8th end and then stole two points in the 9th end to secure an 8-3 victory and the gold medal.
In the men’s semi-finals, Norway took a 5-3 lead in the 5th end but Great Britain came back to score three points in the 7th end followed by a steal of one point in the 8th. Norway scored two points in the 9th end to take an 8-7 lead but the Brits responded with two of their own in the 10th end for a 9-8 victory. In the other semi-final, the Czech Republic took a 4-3 lead when they stole two points in the 6th end but Sweden took a 7-6 lead when they scored two points of their own in the 9th end then stole a point in the 10th for an 8-6 win.
Norway had a 5-2 lead after six ends of the men’s Bronze Medal game when they stole two points to put the game out of reach on their way to a 7-3 win over the Czech Republic. In the men’s Gold Medal final, Great Britain took a 4-0 lead when they stole two points in the 2nd end but Sweden came back to take a 6-5 lead by stealing two points of their own in the 8th end. Great Britain regained the lead when they scored two points in the 9th end and secured the gold medal by stealing a point in the 10th end for an 8-6 victory.
Both the Ontario Tankard and the Ontario Scotties titles were on the line in Cobourg Ontario last week. In the Tankard, Team Epping finished atop the round-robin standings with a record of 8-1 while Team Howard and Team Bailey followed with records of 6-3. Team Baldson, Team Maus and Team Tuck were all tied at 5-4 with Team Tuck winning the final tie-breaker 7-3 over Team Maus to claim the fourth and final playoff spot.
In the 1 vs 2 game, Team Epping was up 6-3 after seven ends when Team Howard started their charge. The defending champions scored two points in the 8th with the hammer then stole two points in the 9th end to take a 7-6 lead and stole three more points in the 10th for a 10-6 victory over the seventh-ranked team in the world. In the 3 vs 4 game, Team Tuck continued their strong play by taking an early 3-0 lead then holding Team Maus to nothing more than single points in the 3rd, 6th and 8th ends. Team Tuck added two points in the 7th end providing the team with some breathing room on their way to a 7-3 victory.
The semi-final looked like it would be a one-sided affair when Team Epping scored three points in the 2nd end then stole two points in the 3rd and another point in the 4th end to take a 6-1. However, Team Tuck responded by scoring three points of their own in the 5th end to narrow the deficit to 6-4. Team Epping was leading 7-5 with last rock in the 8th end when the wheels started to come off. Team Tuck stole single points in the 8th and 9th ends then stole two points in the 10th end for a 9-7 victory over the 7th ranked team in the world.
In the final, Team Howard and Team Tuck were tied at 3-3 in the 5th end when Team Howard scored two points to take a 5-3 lead. The teams had to deal with difficult ice conditions through much of the game, especially towards the end. Team Tuck tied the game 5-5 in the 7th end but Team Howard came right back in the 8th end with three points to take an 8-5 lead and held on for an 8-6 victory and a defense of the title they won last year. This will be Glenn Howard’s 17th appearance at the Tim Hortons Brier.
In the Ontario Scotties, only three playoff spots were available and the first one was claimed by Team Harrison who finished the round-robin at 6-1 and earned a spot in the final. Team Homan finished at 5-2 to earn a spot in the semi-final against Team Auld who upset Team Flaxey 10-4 in the tie-breaker.
Team Homan, took an early 2-1 lead over Team Maus then broke the semi-final game open by scoring four points in the 4th end to take a 6-1 lead. Team Maus was never able to mount a charge and the game ended after Team Homan scored two points in the 8th end to take a 9-3 lead.
In the women’s final, Team Homan, who lost in the provincial final last year, seemed to take control of the game when they scored three points in the 5th end to take a 4-2 lead but Team Harrison came right back to tie the game at 4-4 with two points of their own in the 6th end. Team Homan got those two points back in the 8th then stole a point in the 9th end for a 7-4 victory and their third Ontario Scotties title.
The triple-knockout portion of the SaskTel Tankard, hosted in Tisdale, offered few surprises as Team Laycock qualified through the A Event, Team Casey qualified through the B Event while Team Korte and Team Hartung qualified through the C Event. The first major surprise of the Tankard occurred in the 1 vs 2 game when Team Casey scored three points in the 8th end then stole one point in the 9th end to upset Team Laycock by a score of 8-5. This meant that Team Laycock would have to play in the semi-final against Team Korte who defeated Team Hartung in the 3 vs 4 game by a score of 5-3. Team Korte scored the only deuce of the game in the 8th end to take a 5-2 lead, held Team Hartung to a single point in the 9th and then ran them out of rocks in the 10th end for the victory.
In the semi-final, Team Laycock and Team Korte found themselves tied at 6-6 after Team Korte scored two point in the 10th end. Team Laycock took advantage of last rock to score one point in the extra-end for the victory. In the final, Team Casey scored three points in the 1st and 3rd ends then stole three more points to take a 9-1 lead after four ends, effectively taking an insurmountable lead. Team Laycock, the three-time defending provincial champions, could not get any momentum going in the second half of the game and ultimately lost by a score of 11-3. Adam Casey will be skipping in his second consecutive Brier but for a different province after skipping the team from Prince Edward Island last year.
Pinty’s All-Star Skins Game
The Pinty’s All-Star Skins Game took place last weekend in Banff, Alberta. It was the fourth consecutive year that the Alberta resort community hosted this event and this year the field included the top-ranked Europeans, Team Muirhead of Scotland in the women’s event and Team Edin of Sweden in the men’s event. Joining Team Muirhead were defending champions Team Jones of Winnipeg, 2016 Scotties champions Team Carey of Calgary and Team Sweeting of Edmonton who are currently ranked fourth in the world. Joining team Edin in the men’s event were two-time defending champions Team Jacobs of Sault Ste Marie, 2016 Canadian and World Champions Team Koe of Calgary and Team McEwen of Winnipeg, the 6th ranked team in the world.
In the women’s semi-finals, Team Jones and Team Carey seemed to battle against ice conditions in a game that Team Jones won $11,000 to $10,000. In the other semi-final, Team Muirhead struggled throughout as Team Sweeting took an early lead and never looked back while winning $19,500 while the Scottish champions won a total of $1,500. In the women’s final, Team Jones was behind $16,000 to $13,000 heading into the 8th end where they won a skin worth $13,000 to defend the title they won last year while taking home a total of $53,000. Jennifer Jones and her team have now won a career total of $138,000 at the Pinty’s All-Star Skins Game.
The first men’s semi-final saw Team Koe struggle for the first part of the game but their skip, Kevin Koe, made an important raise for a skin that helped the world champions to $17,500 to $3,500 victory over Team Edin. In the other semi-final, Brad Jacobs made a tap-back in the 7th end that earned his team $7,500 and was the key shot in their $12,500 to $8,500 victory over Team McEwen. In the final, Team Koe won the first six skins of the game to take a $20,000 to $0 lead but when the final two ends were carried over, Team Koe and Team Jacobs had to draw to the button for $22,000 and the victory. Team Koe continued their dominance in this game by winning the draw to the button and winning a total of $75,500 over the weekend.
Japan Curling Championships
Both the men’s and women’s Japan Curling Championships were held in Karuizawa this week. In the men’s event, Team Morozumi and Team Abe finished atop the round-robin standings at 7-1 with Team Abe earning the top seed in the playoffs having defeated Team Morozumi in their round-robin game. Team Sawamukai defeated Team Usui 8-4 in a tie-breaker and moved on to the playoffs where they would meet Team Ogihara.
Team Abe had a 5-4 lead after eight ends in the 1 vs 2 game but Team Morozumi took advantage of last rock in the 9th end to score three points and then ran Team Abe out of rocks in the 10th end for a 7-5 victory. In the 3 vs 4 game, Team Sawamukai stole a point in the 5th end to take a 4-3 lead only to see Team Ogihara steal points of their own in the 7th and 8th ends on their way to a 7-5 victory.
Team Abe was ahead 4-3 in the semi-final when they scored four points to take a commanding 8-3 lead. Team Ogihara could only manage a single point in the 9th and were run out of rocks in the 10th as Team Abe moved on to the final with an 8-4 victory.
In the final, Team Abe took a 3-2 lead by stealing two points in the 3rd end but Team Morozumi came back with two points of their own in the 4th end followed by a steal of one point in the 5th to take a 5-3 lead half way through the game. Team Morozumi took control of the game when they scored three points in the 7th end and went on to defend their title by a score of 10-5.
In the women’s event, defending champions Team Fujisawa of Kitami went undefeated in the round-robin to finish atop the standings. Team Matsumura finished 7-1, Team Ogasawara finished at 6-2 and Team Koana finished at 5-3. In the 1 vs 2 game there was not a single stolen point in the game as Team Fujisawa and Team Matsumura exchanged several big ends. Team Matsumura forced an extra-end by scoring two points and tying the game at 8-8. Team Fujisawa took advantage of last rock in the extra-end to score a single point and 9-8 victory. In the 3 vs 4 game, Team Ogasawara took an early 4-0 lead and were up 5-3 when they scored three points in the 8th to put the game out of reach in an 8-5 win.
In the semi-final, Team Matsumura were ahead 4-3 when they stole two points in the 6th end to take a 6-3 lead while Team Ogasawara were only able to score one point in the second half of the game which Team Matsumura won 8-4.
The final was tied 3-3 after five ends when Team Matsumura stole two points in the 6th to take a 5-3 lead over Team Fujisawa and control of the game. The two teams exchanged single points over the final four ends with Team Matsumura winning the championship final by a score of 7-5.
WEEK 26 PREVIEW
The field for the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier will be complete after this upcoming week as the Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Northern Ontario playdowns are all being held this weekend.
The defending Alberta Boston Pizza Cup champions will not be competing in the playdowns this year as Team Koe has earned an automatic birth in the Brier as the defending champions. The co-favourites heading into the event are Team Thomas and Team Bottcher who both made major lineup changes during the season. There often seems to be a surprise team that makes a run at the Alberta playdowns and this season it could be Team Lizmore or Team Appelman.
At the belairdirect BC Men’s Championships, Team Morris will be looking to qualify for their 4th straight Brier, having won the past two seasons without John Morris who left the team at the end of the 2014 season and returned at the start of the 2016-17 season. Look for Team Joanisse, Team Geall and 2017 Canadian Junior champions, Team Tardi to be in the playoff mix.
The field at the Viterra Championship in Manitoba will be headlined by defending champions Team McEwen and 2016 Canada Cup champions, Team Carruthers. However, the Viterra Championship typically has the deepest field of any provincial championship and this year will be no different. Team Lyburn, Team Gunnlaugson and Team Dunstone are all ranked in the top 25 in the world and could challenge for the title. Meanwhile, both Bohn Brothers, David and Dennis, and Team Peters have the talent and experience to generate one or more surprises during the event.
In Northern Ontario, Team Jacobs are the overwhelming favourites to qualify for their fourth Brier as a team. It will be interesting to see if Team Horgan, who finished 3rd at the Canadian Juniors, can rise to the challenge and make a playoff run at the provincials. Otherwise, the only real story out of Northern Ontario will be if Team Jacobs does not win.
In New Brunswick, the best men’s team in the province will be competing for the provincial championship at the Thistle St. Andrews Curling Club in Saint John.