John Likely and Co. are P.E.I. Tankard champions (Journal)

ALBERTON — John Likely will be skipping a P.E.I. Tankard champion team at the Tim Hortons Brier for the first time since 2002.

Steve Burgess, left, and Robbie Doherty look down ice to their skip, John Likely, for instructions on whether to sweep a rock thrown by their mate, Anson Carmody. – Eric McCarthy

Likely, who filled out his team with mate Anson Carmody, second stone Steve Burgess, lead Robbie Doherty and alternate Matthew Nabuurs, fought back from a 4-2 deficit at the fifth end break to tie his game against two-time defending champion Eddie MacKenzie 5-5 in the eighth end. MacKenzie blanked the ninth to maintain the hammer heading home, but his hammer attempt at running back one of his own guards over-curled and Likely stole the end for a 6-5 win.

Likely lost last year’s final to MacKenzie. “I owed him one,” Likely commented.

Doherty and Nabuurs were with MacKenzie when he won the 2017 title.

Going into Sunday’s playoff game at the Western Community Curling Club with just one loss, Likely knew MacKenzie would need to beat him twice to keep the title and he admitted after the game it was looking different times like there’d be a 2 o’clock winner-take-all final.

Likely made an attempt at a difficult in-off in the fifth which would have given him four points if he made it, but his rock sailed through the house without contact, allowing MacKenzie a steal for a 4-2 lead.

In the tenth of the Tankard final, MacKenzie’s lead, Sean Ledgerwood put a rock on the back of the button. Burgess and Carmody would later freeze on top of it while leaving the MacKenzie stone as shot rock. A Tyler MacKenzie attempt to corner freeze onto the Likely stones after a pair of double peels didn’t work, went heavy and set up beside their own shot rock. Likely seized the opportunity to blast them both although he did leave a MacKenzie stone at the back of the house.

Eddie MacKenzie, who almost cleaned the house on his first attempt, chose to run back his own guard with hammer but it just missed the target.

“To be honest with you, I wasn’t even watching. I just asked Anson, ‘How’s it look?’ and he said, ‘It looks good,’ and then it must’ve curled a little bit,” Likely said of the game’s ultimate outcome.

Click for the full story in the Journal Pioneer.



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