Brier bits 11

Molly the dog was cheering for Team Canada!

Molly the dog was cheering for Team Canada!

Turns out the Brier final was just about as exciting as the Irish men’s playdowns!

Team Canada beat Northern Ontario 6-5 after an extra end after an enthralling final in the Saddledome in Calgary. The first four ends were blanked (a Brier record) before NO skip Brad Jacobs made a great run back double for two. The sixth was blanked by Team Canada to keep last stone in the seventh. They then played a wonderful end to get a two. TC then had the ‘buff boys’ on the back foot in the eighth with four stones in the rings forcing Jacobs to draw the button. Team Canada shifted gears again in the ninth and a clearly rattled NO team were just frayed enough by this point to make tiny mistakes. With his last stone, Brad Jocobs had no option but to try a freeze to lie second shot,  but when that ended half an inch short, TC skip Pat Simmonds (playing 95%) drew to the one foot for three. But NO came roaring back again in the 10th. They managed to get two shots behind a TC stone sitting top 12 and, after Pat Simmonds’ runback attempt only got one away, Jacobs drew again for the two and extra time.

Team Canada made a great job of cleaning up the front guards but NO got a shot into the four foot and Brad Jacobs guarded it with his last stone. Pat Simmonds showed barely believable composure when he drew right to the pot lid to win the Brier. He said afterwards he was just trying not to get too “jacked up”, but to play a weight his sweepers could work with to get it home.

Team Canada win $75, 000 Canadian dollars and now represent Canada at the men’s worlds in Halifax next month. Quite a turnaround for the team that were barely speaking to each other on Monday night after loss number three in two days. At the team meeting after the game, Johnny Morris suggested he stepped down from skipping duties and asked Pat Simmonds to take over. Pat agreed and from that moment the ‘Big Red Machine’ never looked back.

Congratulations to Johnjo’s team after their big extra end win today. Hard lines to Peter’s team who took it right down to the last stone in Dumfries too.

Curling – bloody hell!

Saskachewan beat Newfoundland-Labrador 7-5 in the bronze medal game.

Extra end drama ends with Team Kenny winning Irish Playdowns

IrishMensPlaydownsFinalGameScoreBoardAfter a very close 5th and final game, which inevitably came down to an extra end, Johnjo Kenny and his team of John Furey, James Russell, Arran Cameron and Eoin McCrossan finally prevailed over Peter Wilson and his team of Andrew Gilmore, Alan Mitchell and Tony Tierney by the narrowest of margins. Well done to both teams for taking this  right to the end. Congratulations to Team Kenny and commiserations to Team Wilson. Skips reactions will follow. (Probably once the roving reporter gets back from the Brier!)

Teams Kenny and Wilson after their best of 5 Irish Men's Playdowns

Teams Kenny and Wilson after their best of 5 Irish Men’s Playdowns


Down to the wire in Dumfries!!

Team Kenny levelled the best of 5 Irish Men’s Playdowns with a steal of 1 in the 10th end of Game 4 to set up a one game shoot out with Team Wilson this afternoon. The game was close all the way with no more than one shot the down after 8, Team Kenny tried to blank the 9th but took a one to level the scores but managed the steal in the last to come out on top. Spare a thought for the spectators as this tense, nervy series reaches its climax later today. Best of luck to both teams.

Brier bits 10

Team Canada or “the big red machine” as they have been branded, have rolled into the Brier final after downing Newfoundland-Labrador 8-6 in tonight’s semi-final. After a week of end after end, near perfect curling, this game was mistake ridden. John Morris didn’t cover himself in glory and his failure to sweep a stone out the back could have cost TC dearly but, luckily for him, Brad Gushue  was not perfect either with his last hit for a three, but still getting the two to go one up going into the last end.

Thankfully a fantastic last stone by Pat Simmonds got TC a three for the win. Brad Gushue had tried to freeze on top of a TC stone which was itself frozen on a NL stone. The Team Canada skip flashed past a guard to spring all three leaving the shooter and two hangers-on still sitting.

I really thought Gushue was destined to win. He had written a ‘bucket list’ as a 12 year old and winning the Brier is the only one he hasn’t ticked off. And when he pulled out that amazing shot against Alberta I was sure his name was on the tankard.

Clocks go forward tomorrow morning here to fit in with USA time, something that was introduced two years ago,  much to most Canadians mild disdain. First thing tomorrow we have the bronze medal game between NL and Saskatchewan then the big one between Northern Ontario and Team Canada.

Brier bits 9

Team Canada will face Newfoundland-Labrador tonight in the one Brier semi-final to be played after just squeaking past Saskatchewan in the 3v4 playoff by 8-7.

The teams exchanged singles then blanked the third before Saskatchewan skip Steve Laycock had to draw the button for one in the fourth. Three missed doubles by Saskatchewan in the fifth gave TC a gift of two shots going into the half time break.

In the sixth a line of stones left Steve Laycock facing a difficult angled double to remove two TC stones. He made the double but his shooter scooted out and he only got the one. 4-3 to TC.

TC drew for a one in the seventh when blanking was not an option and two great draws by Steve Lacock evened up the score at 5-5 in the eighth.

TC then went two ahead in

 the ninth when Pat Simmonds just managed to chip out  the Saskatchewan shot that he could just see a tiny piece of. He was unlucky not to stay for three but his shooter, after jamming on a back stone was frantically swept out of the house by Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan came right back again in the tenth with Steve Laycock having a double for four with last stone to kill the game but the shooter rolled out taking another counter along with it. 7-7. Extra end.

This was a very tense affair for all the players but TC got a stone onto the back of the tee early and tried to keep things open out front.  When Pat Simmonds’ first stone to the top four didn’t draw enough, Steve Laycock had room to get to the shot and chip it out but his stone just nicked his own stone lying second shot top four and it was all over.

Games 2 and 3 at the Irish Men’s playdowns

Things are tense in Dumfries as our anonymous reporter comments: Going in to Saturdays games, Team Kenny were 1 game to the good.

Saturday however belonged to Team Wilson with 2 solid victories. Game 1 was tied after 5 but a great shot from Peter secured a 2 at the 6th. They never looked back from that and at 9-6 up playing the last Team Wilson ran Team Kenny out of stones.

Game 3 followed a similar pattern with team Kenny one up after 5 and a steal of 1 saw them 2 up playing the 7th. Team Wilson dominated this end though and took a 4. Kenny levelled after 8 but facing a difficult double to cut Team Wilson down at the 9th a pick up left Wilson with a straight forward draw for a 4 and handshakes were offered. Advantage team Wilson going into Sunday.

There are two games scheduled for Sunday and all to play for.

Brier bits 8

Northern Ontario got through to the 2015 Brier final after a 7-5 victory over Newfoundland-Labrador in the 1v2 playoff in the Saddledome in Calgary.

During the game the momentum swung back and forth between these two teams, both skipped by Olympic gold medalists.

Brad Jacobs, the Northern Ontario skip has to draw the four foot against five in the first end. Two loose shots from NL skip Brad Gushue in the fifth allowed Jacobs the opportunity to play a tap back for three in the fifth for a 4-3 lead and a huge confidence boost as NO were being outcurled by NL.

In the seventh, Gushue played a great triple take out forcing Jacobs to take a one and allow NL to go into the eighth one down but with the hammer. In that end Gushue had a solid gold chance to get his two by nailing a relatively simple double but, with the noise in the packed stadium, his sweepers did not hear him calling them off. He got the double but his shooter rolled out leaving him lying one. 5-5.

In the ninth Jacobs played a great tap back for two for a 7-5 lead and, with NL needing a two for an extra end, the NO skip calmly nailed a double with his last stone to get the win.

Kevin Koe and his Alberta team are class acts both on and off the ice. They must have been deeply disappointed to be knocked out this morning but had the guts to appear in the crowd tonight to watch the game, and with big smiles on their faces.

Irish Mens Playdowns – Game 1

DumfriesIceBowl-PeckyGame 1
JohnJo Kenny 10. Peter Wilson 6
The first game of the Irish Championships at the Dumfries Ice Bowl lived up to the usual excitement by being the proverbial game of 2 halves. Team Kenny were 7-1 up at half time but team Wilson closed the gap to 8-6 after 8 ends. Team Kenny scored a 2 in end 9 to go 4 up. Despite a valiant attempt in end 10 team Wilson ran out of stones. Round 2 of a possible 5 tomorrow morning.

Brier bits 7

So, after the last round-robin game this morning in the Brier it is Saskatchewan who are into the 3v4 game against Team Canada. Their victory this morning against British Columbia put Alberta, Quebec and BC out. They remain on five losses while the Saskatoon foursome have just four defeats.

Tonight in the 1v2 game Northern Ontario take on Newfoundland-Labrador. So far team from the east have been the only rink to get the better of the curling machine from Sault St Marie. Brad Gushue has won everything in curling bar the Brier and he is high on confidence having played what everyone here is calling the “shot of the year” against Alberta.

Good luck to both teams in the Irish men’s playoffs at Dumfries this weekend.

Brier bits 6

Jings crivens – this is getting exciting now. Finally, Kevin Koe and his Alberta team got a break tonight after a week when everything has gone horribly wrong. From the skip going down with food poisioning to losing to a once in a lifetime shot from Brad Gushue. After losing to Saskatchewan this afternoon they looked to be heading for the exit door tonight when tied with Manitoba without last stone in the 10th. But, amazingly, Manitoba skip Reid Carruthers came up an inch short leaving Alberta lying one. That was lifeline number one but all us Alberta fans here in the prairies had to stop cheering and whooping when we realised if Saskatchewan beat Ontario in their extra end Alberta were out anyway. Thankfully Ontario made their last hit for the win to really complicate things on the leader board

We know that Northern Ontario and Newfoundland-Labrador are in the 1v2 game. Team Canada definitely make the 3v4 game but who they play is between Saskatchewan,  Quebec,  Alberta and BC. In the last round-robin game tomorrow morning, Saskatchewan must beat BC they get straight through. But if they lose and Alberta beat New Brunswick there will be tie-breakers later in the day.

The sweeping power of Alberta’s Hebert and Kennedy and any of the ‘buff boys’ from Northern Ontario is phenomenal.  I must have watched them sweep three of four of Koe’s draw shots that were light and drag them to the four foot with their power sweeping or ‘scrubing’ as they say here. And they do it end after end for three hours. Incredible fitness levels. And I can’t work out how the front ends are timing stones as rockwatchers seem to have disappeared. Perhaps they have something on their gloves now or just do it so often they know the speed.

The chinook wind blew in last night raising temperatures by 20 degrees. It was spring like when we were shopping in town this morning. But the curling commentators were concerned about the sudden blast of warmth affecting the ice and there were noticeably more pick ups tonight. Team Canada were going for a draw behind a guard in the last end of their high quality game against NO to try and steal a single for an extra end when Pat Simmonds’ stone picked much to his and his team’s frustration.