Friday, March 27, 2009

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.


Anonymous said...

You are right, Eric.

BC was very vulnerable in the early going, and what was the difference?

Jim Armstrong, of course. He faced three without hammer on the third, and made ye aother hit and roll to kill the end, and actually steal one. On the second, he draws to top of the button fully guarded and steals one.

On the first end, he tries a long double, facing two, and almost gets two, but settles for one.

He is too much for this competition at this point. Ask the players, Eric, if they have seen enough.

The flip side, is that it would appear that Team Canada, with Jim, is definitely a head above the field as of this year, and FOR NOW, WITH RESULTS INTERNATIONALLY AS THE YARDSTICK, a chosen side is the best for results.

Anonymous said...

Look for BC to three-peat, unless Armstrong is simply human.

Congratulations to Jim for what he brings to the table.

He won another game today that BC should have been blown out early.

Anonymous said...

Look for BC to do JUST enough to win, with Armstrong continuing to bail them out of trouble. Both Alberta and Manitoba have to be scratching their heads wondering what it takes to beat him.

Even when he doesn't have a great game, he continues to make the tough shots when in trouble, to keep BC in the game.

Only loss, was when he couldn't bail out time and time again.