Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Medalists and All-Stars - 2009 TSX Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships

Medal photos courtesy Ian Readey

Gold Medal - British Columbia
Melissa Soligo - coach, Darryl Neighbour - alternate, Jim Armstrong - skip
Frank LaBounty - 3rd, Whitney Warren - 2nd, Jackie Roy - lead


Silver Medal - Alberta
Tony Zummack - coach, Jack Smart - skip,
Bruno Yizek 0 3rd, Martin Purvis 2nd, Bridget Wilson - lead

Bronze Medal - Manitoba
Bill Biehl -coach, Terry Lindell -alternate, Dennis Thiessen - 3rd
Michael Allberg - 2nd, Chris Sobkowicz - skip, Arlene Ursel - lead




2009 Canadian Wheelchair Curling All-Star Team
Bridget Wilson (AB lead) - Martin Purvis (AB 2nd)
Bruno Yizek (AB 3rd) - Chris Sobkowicz (MB skip)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

2009 TSX Wheelchair Curling Championship Wrap-up

BC celebrated their third successive national title, with Jim Armstrong's rink of Frank LaBounty, Whitney Warren and Jackie Roy repeating their 2008 success to claim the 2009 TSX Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship. They beat Alberta 6-4 but the championship was not decided until the last rock was thrown.

Alberta, with Jack Smart at skip, Bruno Yizek at 3rd, Martin Purvis at 2nd and Bridget Wilson at lead, had beaten Manitoba in the morning semi-final 7-4 in a game that was not as close as the score suggests, Up 7-1 after 5 ends, they were happy to limit Manitoba to three points before running them out of rocks for the win. You can read our call of the game below.

If you were one of the many blog commenters who felt that BC, with their world championship skip, would have an easy path to the championship, you would have been wrong. Alberta began the final with a steal, with Jim Armstrong able only to limit the damage to 2 with his last rock. In the second, a lovely draw top 4 through a narrow port by Frank LaBounty for shot, was followed by an equally good Alberta tap of a front stone that limited BC to 1.

In the third, Jim Armstrong played awonderful angle raise to the button that stole a point and in the fourth, BC were first into the rings behind a rockpile out front. Alberta skip Jack Smart's attempt to retrieve the situation with a hit and stick for one, crashed allowing BC to steal 2 and go into the break up 4-2.

In the fifth, with Alberta sitting shot, BC tried a raise takeout that missed, but Alberta were unable to capitalise when their wide comearound for a second point was light. In the sixth Jack Smart tapped an Alberta stone into the four foot and it was BC's turn to be light on a draw, leaving the teams tied at 4.

Alberta succeeded in holding BC to one in the seventh and had hammer coming home. Jackie Roy draw to the button and Alberta's lead stone stopped top 4. Whitney Warren froze to shot stone and there was a succession of stones stopping short of the house. With skip stones to go, both teams used their time outs, BC throwing guards and Alberta trying to clear a way through to shot stone. Armstrong's final guard left Alberta with a yellow onto yellow onto blue onto shot stone yellow to sit two blue and win the game. He almost pulled it off, missing by no more than an inch.

Alberta coach Tony Zummack said afterward; "You play all week, through three playoff games, and it comes down to one shot and one inch." But he was proud of the way his team performed, and Martin Purvis, the alternate, who was thrown in at the last minute when Anne Hibberd was unable to travel, more than justified his selection.

For BC it was a nail-biting win but a deserved one. They had been played tough by Alberta, and were not always able to keep the front open as per game plan, but at the end of the final it was Alberta who was chasing. Coach Melissa Soligo said the last three rocks had been agonizing, but once again Team BC, this year chosen through a playdown rather than coach selected, proved they are still the team to beat.

At the evening banquet, Nova Scotia lead Nicole Durand, looking very glamorous in a red evening gown, was presented with the Sportsmanship Trophy, voted by all the curlers.

The All-Star team was kept secret from everyone until the banquet, with statistics from the final two draws withheld until the announcement. All positions were won by less than 2 percent. First up at lead was Bridget Wilson, followed by Martin Purvis at second and Bruno Yizek at third, all from Team Alberta. Manitoba's Chris Sobkowicz was the All-Star skip..

Though most people associate me with the blogging, it would not have been possible without my wife Cate's sterling work at the keyboard and her admonitions to stay focused and not be distracted by the constant stream of kibitzers passing by. Gord Stockdale, the head official was always in our corner, insisting that coaches and volunteers and even the local television cameraman not block our view of the action. And a special thanks must go to the coaches and players throughout the week who were always willing to share information and answer questions.

We couldn't have done this without everyone's cooperation in especially tight quarters, and we thank everyone who helped, from Stewart who went off to buy us 200 feet of much needed Ethernet cable, to organizing committee chair Trendal (Hubbly-Bubbly) Hubley-Bolivar who was a constant presence, and not forgetting Ian Readey for his fabulous photos.

Finally thanks to all our blog readers, especially those who took the time to express their appreciation for what we do. Wheelchaircurling.com and the blog are dedicated to making wheelchair curling the winter recreation of choice for wheelchair users, and your support makes the effort worthwhile.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

2009 TSX Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championship - Final Line Scores

Saturday  March 28

Final
.                  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
BC*                0 1 1 2 0 0 1 1    6           
Alberta            2 0 0 0 1 1 0 0    4

2009 TSX Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championship - Final

Join us for the final. BC wil play the Alberta, the winner of this morning's Semi.

2009 TSX Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championship - Semi Final Line Scores

Saturday  March 28

Semi final
.                  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Alberta*           2 0 2 1 2 0 0 X     7           
Manitoba           0 1 0 0 0 2 1 X     4

Friday, March 27, 2009

2009 TSX Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championship - Semi Final

Please join us Saturday at 10:00AM ADT for the Semi Final game between Alberta and Manitoba!

Day 5 Wrap - 2009 TSX Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships


With a Hotshots competition promised if the schedule produced an empty half day Friday, few fans outside Ontario were rooting for tie-breaks, However, Northern Ontario's final day loss to Nova Scotia and Ontario's loss to Manitoba meant that the two teams faced off this morning, pushing the Page games into the Hotshots slot this afternoon. Ontario had chosen to bring four curlers and two coaches rather than an alternate, so when a medical issue arose for one of the team, there was the possibility that they might have to forfeit the game. Whether that unsettled Ontario, or whether it was just that for this week Northern Ontario had their number, they were never in the game.

Northern Ontario took 2 with the hammer and then stole 2. A coach's time out failed to settle Ontario who continued to concede steals culminating in a 4 in the 7th and handshakes at 13-0.

That set up a 3/4 Page playoff game between Northern Ontario and near neighbours Manitoba, a game that produced the best shot I've seen this week. Northern Ontario had opened an early 3-0 lead but fell behind when Manitoba stole in the 4th and 5th ends. In the 6th Manitoba were sitting shot behind a wall of rocks. With his final stone skip Wayne Ficek threw an angle raise that traveled at least 20 feet across the rings to dislodge the buried Manitoba stone, rescuing the end and probably the game. Manitoba gave up a steal in 7 and took 1 with hammer in the 8th and we went to an extra end.

Though we live blogged the playoff game between BC and Alberta we were able to blog the extra end and you can read our calls below. Again Manitoba sat 1 buried and Northern Ontario were forced to peel guards, opening a small port to allow at least a chance to come down to shot It came down to a needed tap-back through a narrow port, with Manitoba sitting 1, but the final stone grazed a guard and came up short. It was a great game and both teams can be proud of a performance that kept the crowd cheering.

Alberta and BC met for the second time in two days and today Alberta proved tougher opposition. BC had hammer and first choice of rocks, They took yellow from the adjoining sheet C while Alberta took blue rocks from that same sheet. BC took 1 in the first, and the stole singles to go up 3-0 after 3. Alberta responded with a 2 before the break and stole two singles to go ahead 4-3. BC tied it up in 7 and then stole 1 in the final end when Alberta skip Jack Smart made a valiant but doomed attempt at a triple raise to dislodge shot stone. The full live-blog account is below.

BC looked vulnerable at several points during the Alberta game, and Alberta must feel that maybe three's a charm if they get past Manitoba in tomorrow's semi-final. They won their round robin match-up against Manitoba 6-5 on a steal of 1 in the 8th in Draw 4. Manitoba, with Chris Sobkowicz at skip, have been a steady team, winning by stringing together 1s and 2s rather than relying on big ends. They have also given up the fewest points of any team. Though they received a scare against Northern Ontario, they were not the team chasing at the end. BC will be happy to have the luxury of a late start, but if the final games are as exciting as today's Page playoffs, the crowd, and there has been a good crowd, are in for a treat.

2009 TSX Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championship - Page Playoff

Please join us today at 3:30PM ADT for the Page Playoff. NONT will face Manitoba in the 3/4 game, and BC and Alberta meet again in the 1/2.




Page Playoff Linescores

Friday March 27

Page 1 vs 2
.                  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Northern Ontario*  2 2 2 1 1 1 4 X   13
Ontario            0 0 0 0 0 0 0 X    0



Page 3 vs 4
.                  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Manitoba*          0 0 1 2 1 0 0 1 1  6    
Northern Ontario   1 2 0 0 0
1 1 0 0  5

2009 TSX Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championship - Tie Break

.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
N. Ontario*   2 2 2 1 1 1 4 X    13
Ontario*      0 0 0 0 0 0 0 X     0  
.

The Playdown Skips

Here are photos of today's skips, taken earlier in the week by Ian Readey.  We have to crop these for the blog, and they are still great.  View the spectacular originals on Ian's site.



                                               Northern Ontario's Wayne Ficek


                                                      Ontario's Ken Gregory


 
Manitoba's Chris Sobkowicz

 
Alberta's Jack Smart

 
BC's Jim Armstrong
Join us today at 11:30 ADT for the Tiebreak, and again at 3:30 ADT for both Page games.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - Tiebreaker

There is only one tiebreaker, and it's a dandy -- NONT vs ONT. Join us at 11:30AM ADT.

Don't forget the Page Playoff games later, scheduled for 3:30PM ADT. BC and Alberta will meet again in the 1/2 game, and Manitoba will play the winner of the tiebreaker in the 3/4 game. Check here later for the link to that event, but in the meantime, enjoy the Tiebreaker!

Day 4 Wrap-up - 2009 TSX Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship


Judging by the comments on our wheelchaircurling blog, BC were firm favourites to win a third successive crown at the 2009 TSX Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships here in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. At the end of round robin play, they sit top of the table with an 8-1 record, and will face 7-2 Alberta in tomorrow's Page playoff 1-2 game.

BC began the day facing Chris Daw's Newfoundland & Labrador team in an eagerly anticipated battle between Team Canada skips past and present. In fairness to Daw, he is skipping a team with more potential than experience, and he had done well to coax them to 3-4 record going into the final day. They were no match for the defending champions, though they delivered a scare, posting a 4 to pull within one going into the break. But BC score a succession of big ends and ran out 13-5 winners.

BC faced co-leaders Alberta in the final draw, a game delayed for a medical time out when one of the Alberta players was delayed getting onto the ice. While players, coaches and officials all made every effort to accommodate the delay, by rule Alberta were penalised by their clock starting at the end of the official's time out, and losing one point and one end for every five minutes delay. Alberta thus started the game at the top of the 3rd without hammer and down two points.

The game was only to choose hammer in the Page 1/2 game, but Alberta fought hard, starting with two steals, but eventually fading to a 6-2 loss. The teams do it all again tomorrow afternoon.
Third place Manitoba had an easy win over Quebec in the morning, and then faced Ontario, who needed to win to avoid a tie-break with the northern neighbours. Manitoba had two steals of 2 after the break, and won 7-4 ensuring third place in tomorrow's Page playoff. Northern Ontario had earlier won the second Annual John MacCrae Trophy for top Ontario team. Ex-Ontario coach Bob Pippy writes from Florida that John MacCrae was the long time General Manager of the Ontario Curling Association and a strong supporter of Wheelchair Curling.

Northern Ontario could have won a playoff place outright had they beaten Nova Scotia, a game we blogged (replay the commentary here) but they failed to put away a team that has a skip that can throw beautifully under pressure. Nova Scotia stole in the eighth and the extra to win 8-6. They featured in the only two extra end games; both against Ontario teams.

Quebec and Saskatchewan should go home with heads high after winning three games in their first year of competition. Quebec is an especially promising side and youthful, with established athletes from other disciplines who will have learned a lot from this year's intense competition. Their second, Jaques Martin, looks like he could throw a curling stone the length of the sheet without it touching ice, and relegated Chris Daw's biceps to something you could kick sand at. Coach Al Whittier is a great example of what can be done in a very short time with drive and enthusiasm and athletes that want to learn.

Saskatchewan will return home knowing they scored the biggest end recorded at a Nationals, a 7 in the 4th in their game against Ontario, who had been lying 1 but raised a Saskatchewan stone into the rings, taking out shot stone. I'll say no more in deference to the Ontario coach who threatened to let down my tires if this was mentioned.

It will be up to Northern Ontario to upset the bulk of the podium predictions tomorrow. Skip Wayne Ficek promised an early night, and that's something that I can relate to. See you online tomorrow for a rerun of the Battle of Ontario, and coverage of the Page playoffs.

2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - Draw 9

.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Host          0 0 3 0 0 0 0 X    3
N. Ontario*   2 1 0 2 1 1 1 X    8       
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Saskatchewan* 1 0 0 1 0 1 2 3    8
Newfoundland  0 3 3 0 1 0 0 0    7
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Manitoba      2 0 0 1 2 2 0 X    7
Ontario*      0 1 1 0 0 0 2 X    4
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Alberta       0 0 1 1 0 0 0 X    2
BC*           1 1 0 0 1 2 1 X    6
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Quebec        1 0 0 0 1 1 3 2    8
Nova Scotia*  0 2 2 1 0 0 0 0    5

2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - Draw 8

.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Quebec*       0 0 0 0 0 0 0 X    0
Manitoba      3 1 3 1 2 1 1 X   12
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Host          0 1 0 0 0 1 X X    2
Alberta*      2 0 6 2 2 0 X X   12
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Nova Scotia   0 2 0 0 1 0 2 1 2  8
N. Ontario*   2 0 2 2 0 1 0 0 0  6
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Saskatchewan* 0 0 0 7 0 0 1 0    8
Ontario       2 1 1 0 1 2 0 3   10
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
BC*           4 0 2 0 4 3 X X   13
Newfoundland  0 1 0 4 0 0 X X    5

2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - Draw 9

Join us today for the BC vs Alberta matchup in Draw 9 at 3:30PM  ADT.  (This will likely be delayed until aprox 4:15 ADT But we will open the blog as close to 3:30 as we can)

2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - Draw 8

Join us this morning for Draw 8.  We plan to live blog Northern Ontario vs Nova Scotia.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 3 Wrap - 2009 TSX Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships

There was a side championship scheduled for the week's curling at the 2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - the Ontario Trophy awarded to the winner of the Ontario/Northern Ontario match-up. Northern Ontario were decisive winners, going out to an early 4-0 lead on steals in the second and third ends, and then matching their southern neighbours the rest of the way, wining 8-3. "At least they're the ones who will have to worry about getting the trophy home on the plane,' joked an Ontario coach, but I am sure that will be no bother at all to Wayne Ficek.
 
Northern Ontario had tough opening draws, but felt that if they could hold their record to no more than three losses in the first half, they would be in with a chance at the playoffs by winning the later games. After 7 draws they are in 4th place with games against the two bottom of the table Nova Scotia teams to play.
 
"We only played together for the fist time at the Provincials, and live quite far apart,",explained Ficek. But they are playing as a team, and with Ontario struggling after a promising start, look a good bet to reach the playoff in their first championship.
 
Ontario kept their faltering hopes alive with the tournament's first extra end win over Nova Scotia, 9-8 in the late draw. Skip Ken Gregory was short on his first draw in the eighth end, but managed to come into the rings with his final stone to force an extra. Each side played stones to the front of the house in the 9th, and when Ontario finally came in, sitting shot on the 4-foot, Nova Scotia skip Mike Fitzgerald drew through a narrow port with a final stone that stopped an inch short of victory.
 
Team BC were back on track with a couple of wins, though they were pushed hard by the rookie Saskatchewan side. Their skip, Del Huber, felt they could have won a famous victory had they taken their chances to turn ones into twos, but with three wins already, he can feel proud of his team's showing. That won't satisfy lead Marie Wright, however. She told me the day before the tournament that she wanted a podium place. She won't get one his year, but she hits well enough to have reasonable hopes of a medal before too long.
 
Bc's other game was against challengers Manitoba, who are all business on the ice. A couple of questionable shot calls may have cost them a chance at 3's and you can't afford to make any shot calling mistakes against Jim Armstrong. Manitoba work with an experienced coach most weeks, and play together twice a week and also practice together. That discipline shows on the ice, but today they did not take the few chances they had to score big ends and BC's 3 in the third was decisive in a 6-3 win.
 
Alberta continued to match BC for wins, and posted narrow victories over Quebec 7-6, and Newfoundland 6-4. They are doing just enough to win, and look likely to be challenging BC for hammer in the Page 1/2 game when they meet in the final draw.
 
Newfoundland skip Chris Daw has called on all his considerable experience to bring his all female teammates close to the playoffs, but they have not been able to play consistently enough to mount a real challenge.
 
The consensus among the competitors is that an opening ceremony, full practice, and five draws in two days, plus 90 minutes loading and travel each way, with days starting at 8.30 and ending after 11PM has been too much to handle. Though spirits remain high, bolstered by the warm welcome and supportive energy of wonderful volunteers, fatigue is clearly showing, even on the face of old campaigners like Jim Armstrong. No-one neutral is hoping for tie-breaks. We'll know tomorrow.

2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - Draw 7

.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Nova Scotia   1 0 2 3 1 0 1 2 0  8
Ontario*      0 4 0 0 0 2 0 2 1  9       
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
BC            1 0 3 1 0 1 0 X    6
Manitoba*     0 1 0 0 1 0 1 X    3 
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Alberta*      2 2 0 1 1 0 0 X    6
Newfoundland  0 0 2 0 0 1 1 X    4
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
N. Ontario*   3 2 2 1 0 1 3 X   12
Quebec        0 0 0 0 1 0 0 X    1
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Saskatchewan  1 2 0 0 0 0 3 4    10
Host*         0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0     4

2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - Draw 7

Join us at 3:30 PM ADT for Draw 7.  We expect to be live blogging BC vs MB, but anything can happen with sight lines here.

2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - Draw 6

.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Newfoundland* 2 1 2 0 2 1 1 X     9
Host          0 0 0 1 0 0 0 X     1      
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Ontario       0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0     3
N. Ontario*   2 1 1 0 2 1 0 1     8
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
BC*           1 0 4 0 0 1 0 X     6
Saskatchewan  0 1 0 2 1 0 1 X     5
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Nova Scotia   0 0 1 0 0 1 X X     2
Manitoba*     1 3 0 3 1 0 X X     8
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Alberta*      3 0 0 2 1 0 1 0     7
Quebec        0 1 3 0 0 1 0 1     6

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - Draw 6

Please join us Wednesday morning at 11:30 AM ADT for Draw 6.  We plan to feature BC vs SK.

Day 2 Wrap

Day 2 of the Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championship was always going to be a endurance challenge, especially for teams with only four members.  The day started at 9:00 AM with an hour and a half of loading and transport to the club, and then three draws, and an hour and a half to get back to the hotel.  Everybody looked exhausted as they returned to the hotel well after 11:00 PM.

It's not surprising that by the end of the day there were no unbeaten teams, although BC, Alberta and Manitoba, the three teams with the most experience and the most settled sides, ended up top of the table at 4-1.

BC started with a comfortable 11-2 win over Nova Scotia, with Frank LaBounty, having issues with his wheelchair, sitting out.  At lunch time, coach Melissa Soligo was still trying to decide who would sit out for the afternoon draw.  "Having five players is a huge advantage," Jim Armstrong had said prior to the tournament, "especially on the day with three draws."  But that still meant that either Whitney or Frank would have to sit if Darryl was to play.  It was decided by names out of the hat.  I picked the names out of the hat and take full responsiblity for BC's 10-4 loss to Ontario in Draw 4.

BC recovered with a tough 9-7 win over Northern Ontario in the evening draw, with Darryl sitting in for Whitney.  A very tired looking Jim Armstrong said at the end of the day, "Everything that could have gone wrong on the ice went wrong."  But they still have a share of the lead.

Manitoba third Dennis Thiessen, at lunch after the morning draw, felt his 3-0 team were where they needed to be to make the playoffs.  Despite a tough 6-5 loss to Alberta in the afternoon, Manitoba are 4-1 and have impressed with their steady play.  Chris Sobkowicz is looking far happier skipping than he did playing lead at the Worlds.

Alberta, after losing 6-5 to Northern Ontario in the morning, beat challengers Manitoba and Ontario to greatly increase their chances of making the Page 1-2 game.  With only four team members, we'll see whether they can maintain their momentum.

Northern Ontario continue to be the wildcard, capable of beating Alberta and Newfoundland & Labrador, but also losing to Saskatchewan, who posted their first two wins today.  Skip Wayne Ficek rued the loss to Saskatechewan, feeling that 3-2, having played the contending teams would have put them in a good position to make the playoffs.  "We feel we can still make it if we win out.  The first time the team played together was at the Northern Ontario playdowns and three members of the team have only been curling a year."

Quebec also posted their first wins today, beating Newfoundland & Labrador 7-5, and the Host team 8-5.

Draw 5 - 2009 TSX Canadian Nationals

.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
N. Ontario    2 0 0 0 3 0 2 0    7
BC *          0 4 1 1 0 2 0 1    9
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Nova Scotia*  1 0 3 0 2 5 x x   11
Saskatchewan  0 1 0 1 0 0 x x    2
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Host          0 0 0 2 1 0 2 x    5
Quebec*       1 1 5 0 0 1 0 x    8
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Ontario       0 0 0 0 2 1 0 x    3
Alberta       1 2 1 1 0 0 1 x    6
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Newfoundland  1 0 0 1 0 0 0 x    2
Manitoba      0 1 1 0 1 1 2 x    7

2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - Draw 5

Join us for Draw 5 tonight - We'll start the live blogging at about 7:45 ADT.  The whole day is running late.  We're guessing the play will begin about 8:00 PM ADT, but check in sooner and join the chat.  We will feature NS vs SK tonight.

Draw 4 - 2009 TSX Canadian Nationals

.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Manitoba*     0 1 2 0 1 1 0 0     5   
Alberta       2 0 0 2 0 0 1 1     6 
.
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Newfoundland  0 2 0 0 2 0 1 0     5
Quebec*       1 0 3 1 0 1 0 1     7

.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Ontario       2 0 2 1 3 0 2 X     8
BC*           0 2 0 0 0 2 0 X
.
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Host          2 1 1 0 0 1 0 X    5
Nova Scotia*  0 0 0 4 1 0 3 X    8
.
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
N. Ontario    1 0 0 0 0 0 X X    1
Saskatchewan* 0 1 1 1 5 1 X X    9

2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - Draw 4

Join us for Manitoba vs Alberta at 3:30PM ADT

2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - Draw 3

Join us for Draw 3.  We plan to live blog Ontario vs Newfoundland & Labrador, and to keep you posted on the other scores as well.

Draw 3 - 2009 TSX Canadian Nationals

.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Ontario*      3 0 1 0 0 0 0 3    7
Newfoundland  0 1 0 1 2 1 3 0    8
.
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Manitoba      1 1 3 1 0 1 0 x    7
Host*         0 0 0 0 1 0 3 x    4

.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
N. Ontario*   0 1 1 1 0 0 0 3    6
Alberta       2 0 0 0 1 1 1 0    5
.
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Quebec        0 0 0 1 0 1 0 X    2
Saskatchewan* 3 3 1 0 2 0 3 X   12
.
.
.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Nova Scotia   0 0 0 2 0 0 X X    2
BC            1 2 2 0 2 4 X X   11

Day 1 Wrap

The moment of truth came for the less experienced teams during the first day of play at the 2009 TSX Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship. There were five double-digit scores posted, and only one game decided on the last rock, when Nova Scotia just failed to overcome an early four-ender, losing 7-6 to Newfoundland & Labrador.

In the opening draw defending champions BC played the Nova Scotia Host team in a game where they threw guards rather than running up the12-1 score. Their evening 13-1 win against Quebec was equally decisive.

Several of the leads struggled with heavy ice, especially during the 8:00 PM draw of a day that started 12 hours earlier with a 30 minute bus ride in from Halifax.

There are four experienced teams at the Championship, and they all won both their opening games. Northern Ontario, annoyed at themselves for not making a better show in a 9-4 loss to Manitoba, took it out on Newfoundland & Labrador in the evening. Newfoundland with Chris Daw at skip had scored an early four in an opening draw against Nova Scotia, holding on for a 7-6 win. Chris declined the excellent dinner that was put on between draws, fearing that it would affect his performance in the evening, but probably should have played on a full stomach, as he was blanked by Northern Ontario, 10-0.

Alberta looks strong despite the absence of Anne Hibbard, their second, who is unable to travel because of a hospitalization from a foot injury. Jack Smart, who played third for Team Canada member Bruno Yizek last year, is the very animated skip of this year's team. Alberta's evening draw against Nova Scotia was fought to the bitter end. Down 7, Nova Scotia didn't surrender until they were finally run out of rocks, midway through the end.

Ontario posted fives in both of their games. Skip Ken Gregory joked, "We don't play to win; we play to come back." Fives will do that for you. When they face BC in the second of today's three draws, it might be wiser not to play from behind.

The organizing committee and the volunteers at the club are a pleasure to work with. A weak computer signal in what is the basement of a sports complex was corrected when someone from the club went out in the snow to purchase 200 feet of extension cable. The food is wonderful. The volunteers are cheerful. And if it wasn't snowing, everything would be perfect.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Draw 2 - 2009 TSX Canadian Nationals

.........1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Final
BC* .....1 0 2 1 4 4 1 x 13
Quebec ..0 1 0 0 0 0 0 x 1
.
........... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Final
Alberta ... 0 1 0 1 2 5 2 x 11
Nova Scotia*3 0 1 0 0 0 0 x 4
.
............. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Final
Saskatchewan* 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 x 2
Manitoba .... 2 3 0 1 1 1 1 x 9
.
........... ..1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Final
Newfoundland* 0 0 0 0 0 0 x x 0
N. Ontario .. 3 2 1 2 1 1 x x 10
.
. ............1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Final
Host......... 2 1 0 0 1 0 1 x 5
N. Ontario .. 0 0 5 1 0 3 0 x 9

2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - Draw 2

2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - Draw 1

.             1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Alberta       2 3 0 0 3 1 4 x    13
Saskatchewan* 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 x     2

.            1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Quebec*      2 0 2 0 1 0 0 1     6
Ontario      0 1 0 2 0 5 1 0     9
.            1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Newfoundland 0 4 2 0 1 0 0 0     7
Nova Scotia* 1 0 0 1 0 2 1 1     6
.            1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
BC           1 3 0 5 2 1 X X    12
HOST NS*     0 0 1 0 0 0 X X     1
.            1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E Final
Manitoba*    2 1 1 3 0 2 0 X     9
N. Ontario   0 0 0 0 3 0 1 X     4

McCreadie comes back with win at Scottish Championship



Michael McCreadie skipped a last rock win at the Scottish Wheelchair Curling Championship this past weekend. Click here for Curling Today's report. Photo by Judy Mackenzie.

2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - Draw 1

We expect to have the connection issues sorted out by 4:00PM Atlantic Time. Here is a link to the event.

Connection problems

We're having problems with the internet connection at the Lakeshore Curling Club. Please be patient. We hope to have the problem resolved for the 4PM draw.

2009 TSX Canadian Nationals - Opening Ceremony

We're connected - hope you can join us for the Opening Ceremonies, and for all the draws.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Night Before

Hello from Halifax, NS, where the little card with the chocolate treat on my pillow tells me that we are expecting snow tomorrow, and a high of -1C.

I'm still working on BC time.  It's 6:30PM, and Martin and Ferby are about to play in the Canada Cup.  But it's an early start tomorrow, or at least that's what I'm telling myself right now.

If the Canadian Nationals are as well organized and as sociable as the preliminaries today, it's going to be a fun week.  WestJet service was excellent, I was met off the plane, the room was as advertised, there's restaurants and shops without having to go outside in the wind and cold, and did I mention that it's an early start tomorrow morning?

Most of the teams got together this evening for munchies and a no-host bar.  Chris Daw arrived with his retinue of three female teammates, a female coach, and his wife, all wearing tee shirts that say, "Throw like a girl" with a purloined wheelchaircurling.com logo.

Everybody seems in good spirits, particularly the Northern Ontarians, still celebrating their win over those big city guys from Thunder Bay.

Alberta's Anne Hibberd was unable to travel, having seriously injured her foot.  Everybody wishes you well, Anne!

And with that, we'll see you online tomorrow for the Opening Ceremonies at 11:00AM Atlantic Time. (Conversion here.)  Opening Ceremonies will be followed by team practices, and the first draw at 4:00PM Atlantic Time.  We'll be covering defending champions BC, who will be playing the Host team.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Scottish Championships March 20-22 in Aberdeen


Michael McCreadie - Vancouver 2009
photo Yadranka
Eight rinks will be competing in Aberdeen this weekend for the 2009 Scottish Wheelchair Curling Championship. Jim Sellar and Michael McCreadie, who played together on the Scots team at the recent Worlds will each skip a side. Angie Malone, who won the British Open in Kinross last November, will also be skipping her team.

You can follow the results HERE.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Who will make the podium at the 2009 Canadian Nationals?

With nine provincial teams and a host team to round out the draw to ten teams, this year's provincial championship will be the largest in the six year history of the sport.

Two players, Frank Cannarello of Ontario and Whitney Warren of BC have appeared in every multi-province championship. BC are the only province to have won the title, in 2007 and 2008, with Team Canada winning the first four championships. Team Canada wil not be competing this year, though four of the present eight person squad will appear; Jim Armstrong and Darryl Neighbour with Team BC, Bruno Yizek with Team Alberta, and Chris Sobkowicz with Team Manitoba.

Darryl will not expect to play more than a game unless a team member is unavailable.

BC, Alberta, and Manitoba bring settled sides who all competed last year. Ken Gregory's Ontario rink finally displaced Toronto's Chris Rees and also brings an experienced team that will expect to be competitive.

Nova Scotia, in their second year of competition will have the advantage of home ice and will be looking to build on a very respectable 5th place last year. Northern Ontario's Wayne Ficek surprised last year's Thunder Bay and provincial skip Carl Levesque in bringing his Kenora team through a playdown to win a trip to Nova Scotia. They also supplied the best "don't mess with us" team photo.

All those clamouring for Chris Daw to resuscitate his curling career will be following Newfoundland/Labrador with interest. No provincial team has worked harder and come further in just a year than Quebec, and darkhorses Saskatchewan and the Nova Scotia host team round out the field.

So who's going to win?

Post your 1 - 2 - 3 picks in the comments below, and if you are the first correct entry AND you have your name on your post, you'll win a wheelchaircurling.com t-shirt.

2009 TSX Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championships

2009 TSX Canadian
Wheelchair Curling Championship
Lakeshore Curling Club
Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia - March 23 - 28

Meet the teams

Team Alberta
Skip: Jack Smart, Third: Bruno Yizek, Second: Anne Hibberd
Lead: Bridget Wilson, Coach: Tony Zummack


Team BC
Skip - Jim Armstrong, 3rd - Frank LaBounty, 2nd - Whitney Warren
Lead - Jacqueline Roy, Alternate - Darryl Neighbour. Coach - Melissa Soligo

Team Manitoba
Skip - Chris Sobkowicz, 3rd - Dennis Thiessen, 2nd - Michael Alberg Lead - Arlene Ursel, Alternate - Terry Lindell, Coach - William Biehl

Team Newfoundland/Labrador


Front row - Lanie Woodfine - lead, Darlene Jackman - 2nd
Joanne MacDonald - 3rd, Chris Daw - skip
Back row - Leslie Anne Walsh (coach), Felix Green - alternate, Morgan Daw - Manager




Team Northern Ontario
Wayne Ficek - skip, Mark Wherrett - 3rd, Chester Draper
Cindy Hoffstrom, Denise Miault, Coach Tom Wherrett


Team Nova Scotia
Mike Fitzgerald (skip), Laughie Rutt (third)
Trendal Hubley-Bolivar (second), Nicole Durand (lead)
Coach William Fletcher


Team Ontario
Ken Gregory - Skip, Frank Cannarella - 3rd
Katie Paiallunga - 2nd, Collinda Joseph - lead
Dennis Moulding (manager) Carl Rennick (coach)


Team Quebec
Benoit Lessard, Carl Marquis, Jacques Martin
Johanne Daly, Denis Grenier, Alfred Whittier (coach)


Team Saskatchewan
Del Huber, Darwin Bender, Marie Wright, Gil Dash
Calvin Bird, Lorraine Arguin (coach)


Host team (NS)
Richard Brown, Keith Williams, John Rogers
Paige Fougere, Larry Henley, Glen McClare (coach)

Nanaimo CC fundraising for an elevator

The Nanaimo Bulletin reports: The Nanaimo Curling Club was accessible to everyone earlier this month.

The annual Stixs and Stones wheelchair curling bonspiel was held March 8 at the club, bringing together disabled and able-bodied athletes who all threw their rocks with a cue.

Twenty-two people participated and around $350 was raised towards the NCC’s elevator project.

Club manager Denise Wood said she will learn later this month if the elevator project qualifies for gaming funds.

Rick Mercer Reports


photo courtesy The Curling News


Just received this note from Jim Armstrong:

Darryl and I just did three hours with Rick Mercer and Gordon Campbell at the Olympic Curling Venue. God knows how it will be edited,, but, if nothing else, it should b a great promotion for Wheelchair Curling. I am told that it will be televised in his season-ending program, next Tuesday....great fun....I hope we get our message across.....

For those unfamiliar with Rick Mercer, he hosts a nationally televised show The Rick Mercer Report on CBC and available via BitTorrent for those unable to tune in on Tuesdays at 8 pm local time.

The event was covered in detail on The Curling News blog

The 2009 Juan de Fuca Classic a great success

The second year of this stick curling event saw the field expand to 20 curlers. The $450 1st prize was won by Darryl Neighbour in a 3some with Gary Cormack and Corinnne Jensen. He stole a win over Jim Armstrong and Jackie Roy by 8-6. Read Corinne's report on the event and see some photos HERE. (.doc)

Kenora CC gives Ficek rink a rousing send-off

Wayne Ficek and his Northern Ontario rink were given a rousing send-off last Friday at the Kenora Curling Club. [read report from Miner & News]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

World's bronze medalists Germany celebrate success


Here is a newsletter (pdf) from Jens Jager, skip of the bronze medal winning team at the 2009 World Championships, celebrating his team's success. It is in German, but loosely translated, it begins: "We did it!! We won the bronze medal and will compete in 2010 at the Paralympic winter games in Vancouver… Hurray!

"It was a strong achievement by the entire team: Astrid Hoer, Caren Totzauer, Jens Gäbel, Marcus Sieger, Jens Jager and the staff with Helmar Erlewein (coach), and Marion Demeter (Physio) who kept us all fit.

"There was a surprise at the station on our return to Rottweil. Members of the Schwenningen Curling Club welcomed us with enormous posters and cold sparkling wine.  All had new T-shirts printed with “We congratulate the German team." Thank you for this marvelous gift. You are the best!"

Wheelchair curlers win Lakeshore CC stick curling league

Mike Fitzgerald and Laughie Rutt triumphed in the Thursday evening stick curling league's championship at the Lower Sackville Lakeshore CC. The duo, who will constitute the back end of Nova Scotia's provincial team at the national championships starting March 23rd, were delighted to prevail without sweeping in a league primarily designed for non-wheelchair users. A scheduling conflict means their provincial team duties will prevent them from challenging for the Nova Scotia Stick Curling Championship in Middleton starting March 27th.

South Lanarkshire loses pioneer with death of Charles Russell

Charles Russell passed away last week after a short illness. Though known internationally as a top-level competitor and advocate for wheelchair bowls, under his chairmanship of the South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling Club, membership has grown to over 30 members. [read obituary in Hamilton Advertiser]

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Nova Scotia ready to take on Canada's best


Mike Fitzgerald (skip), Laughie Rutt (third), Trendal Hubley-Bolivar (second)
Nicole Durand (lead)
Coach William Fletcher

Team Nova Scotia is set for the 2009 TSX Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship to be held in Lower Sackville starting on March 23rd, 2009. It's an experienced team, all players having had played in last year’s Championship held in Winnipeg.

“We are better this year but so is the rest of the field,” said Mike Fitzgerald, Nova Scotia skip. “A number of teams will have the same lineups from past years and Chris Daw, the gold medal skip of the Torino Paralympics, is back with a Newfoundland and Labrador team.”

Last year the all rookie Nova Scotia team had a respectable fifth place finish. Fitzgerald is joined by Laughie Rutt at 3rd, Nicole Durand at lead and Trendal Hubley-Bolivar who is playing second after skipping Team Atlantic in last year’s competition.

“We certainly have the skill to go further this year,” Fitzgerald stated. “We now have a minor advantage that we are playing on home ice.”

This is the first time the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships have been held in Nova Scotia and is the first time that Lakeshore Curling Club in Lower Sackville has ever hosted a national championship event. Lakeshore Curling Club is the hub of wheelchair curling in the province.

Wheelchair curling in Nova Scotia was founded by Canadian Paraplegic Association (Nova Scotia) and is still supported by the Association, Lakeshore Curling Club and the Metro United Way.

For information on this release, please contact Laughie Rutt 864-2737 or email ljrutt@eastlink.ca

Armstrong makes Globe & Mail Six Paralympians to watch

Jim Armstong makes the list of six Paralympians to watch in today's Globe & Mail. ""We are the defending champions from 2006. When you're dealing with curling, and talking Canada, it's like saying you're a hockey player. I'd say you're looking at disappointment if you're not looking at a gold medal. I call wheelchair curling the 'roller derby' of the sport. We don't have the big weight-hits or the sweeping. It's much more interesting, strategically. The able-bodied game is so sterile, with the perfect rocks and the players so good ... they had to change the rules to make it interesting."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Who guessed best?

There were 119 comments on the February 13th post inviting people to guess who would make the Worlds podium, and only one person who chose Canada to win and also correctly suggested that Germany would finish 3rd.

Anonymous poster, take a bow.

Next closest were two posters suggesting that Canada would win and Sweden place 3rd.

My prediction of a Canada win and a USA 3rd looked good until ... well watch this video to see what happened.


video