There was plenty on the line during the Wednesday night draw at the 2019 Canadian Mixed Curling Championship at the Fort Rouge Curling Club in Winnipeg. The final draw of the round robin had teams playing for position within the Championship Pool, while two teams were involved in a high-stakes Championship Pool qualification matchup.
[PEI finished round robin play with a 1-5 win-loss record and now go to the seeding pool to determine rankings for next year. They play Newfoundland and Labrador at 11 this morning, and Nunavut at 6 pm, finishing up against Northern Ontario at 4 pm Friday]
With all the marbles on the line, it was 2012 Canadian mixed champion Jason Ackerman (Highland Curling Club, Regina) snatching the final Pool A spot available in the Championship Pool. He took on 2017 Canadian mixed champion Trevor Bonot of Northern Ontario (Port Arthur Curling Club, Thunder Bay) with the winner moving on and the loser going down to the Seeding Pool. Trailing by one without the hammer in the final end, Saskatchewan had two counters on Northern Ontario’s final shot. Bonot was heavy on his draw attempt, going through the house which proved Saskatchewan with the steal of two needed to win the game 6-5 and continue its hopes of winning gold.
It was an important win for Saskatchewan. The team started the championship by winning three straight, but had dropped the last two games to Yukon and Quebec. Northern Ontario’s loss, meanwhile, is a disappointing one. Bonot, the 2017 silver medallist at the World Mixed Curling Championship, will not get the opportunity to represent Canada again this season.
On the sheet beside them Nova Scotia’s Kendal Thompson (Mayflower Curling Club) and Alberta’s Kurt Balderston (Grande Prairie Curling Club) were playing for position in the Championship Pool. Both teams had qualified, but their final game determined seeding within the Championship Pool. It was a low-scoring affair until the seventh end. After three blank ends in a row, Nova Scotia scored a five-ender en route to a 6-2 win and second overall in Pool B while Alberta takes the third spot.
Here’s how the remaining teams qualified in their respective pools:
Quebec’s Félix Asselin (Glenmore, Laval-sur-le-Lac and Baie d’Urfé Curling Clubs) assured himself first in Pool A with a 7-3 win against Newfoundland and Labrador’s Harold Walters (RE/MAX Centre, St. John’s). Quebec will carry forth its 5-1 record into the Championship Pool, having only lost one game to Northern Ontario earlier in the week. Asselin has big shoes to fill this week. Last season Quebec, represented by Robert Desjardins, advanced to the final at the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship.
Manitoba qualified for the Championship Pool earlier in the day. Colin Kurz (Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club, Winnipeg) defeated Newfoundland and Labrador 6-2 and finished the round robin with a 4-2 record. It was Manitoba’s third win in a row at the 2019 Canadian Mixed Curling Championship and the local crowd will certainly be following their team’s progress heading into the next stage of the event.
Yukon’s Bob Smallwood (Whitehorse Curling Club) qualified earlier in the day with a 7-5 victory against Nunavut’s Ed MacDonald (Iqaluit Curling Club). Smallwood, competing at his sixth Canadian Mixed Curling Championship, is having one of his best appearances to date. This is the first time he’s made an appearance in the Championship Pool since 2016 when he qualified for the final spot with a 3-3 record.
Even if Ontario’s Wayne Tuck lost on Wednesday night, he would have been first overall in Pool B. But that was not the case as Tuck and Ontario defeated New Brunswick’s Chris Jeffrey (Gage Golf and Curling Association, Oromocto) 7-4 in the final game on Wednesday. Tuck sits at 6-0 after the round robin. It’s a familiar spot for the team from the Ilderton Curling Club. Tuck, at his fourth Canadian Mixed Curling Championship, also ran the table in the round robin at the 2017 championship. He went on to win bronze that season.
British Columbia’s Cody Tanaka (Richmond Curling Club) locked up the final spot in Pool B earlier in the day. His 5-3 win against Prince Edward Island’s Melissa Morrow (Summerside and Charlottetown Curling Clubs) elevated British Columbia to a 3-3 record. Even if New Brunswick defeated Ontario in the final game, British Columbia would have been awarded the last spot in the Championship Pool based on their head-to-head record.
Teams will now play the teams from the opposite pool, carrying forward their full win-loss records. Meanwhile, the bottom three teams in each pool will go to the Seeding Pool, where they will compete against the three teams from the opposite pool. These teams also carry forward their full win-loss records.
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