Tuesday, March 24, 2009

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.

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