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.