Marie Wright, Gil Dash, Darwin Bender
Saskatchewan wins 2012 Canadian Nationals
(click on team for team members)
Saturday March 2 - Final Day - Saskatchewan took the 2012 National Championships in an extra end from 3-time losing finalists Alberta 7-6. The championship was won by a spectacular draw to the button by Saskatchewan skip Darwin Bender with his last stone in the 8th end. Alberta skip Bruno Yizek could have cut off the four foot, but his attempted guard overcurled, leaving the narrowest of ports, but allowing the shot of the championship.
In the extra end Saskatchewan's tick off a front stone into the 4four foot survived several challenges, and Saskatchewan stole their victory. For Alberta it was a second year of leading the round robin, winning the Page 1/2 game, and falling at the very last rocks. Saskatchewan had not managed a winning record in their previous 3 visits to the Nationals, but birthday boy Darwin Bender earned his victory with his accurate draw weight. Read a report from the arena HERE.
In the morning semi-final Saskatchewan dominated Ontario, winning 7-2.
Saturday March 24 - Page playoff - Ontario stole singles in the 8th and the extra end to defeat Quebec in the Page Playoff 3/4 game. You can read a full match report HERE
Alberta and Saskatchewan blanked the first two ends before Saskatchewan went ahead with a steal of 2. They held a 4-2 lead after 5 before Alberta scored singles in the last three ends for a 5-4 win and a path straight to tomorrow's afternoon final. Ontario plays Saskatchewan in the morning's semi-final. You can read a full match report HERE
5,900 views tuned in to Friday's webcast.
Friday March 23 - Tie-break - In a tie-breaker rematch of this morning's defeat, Ontario turned the table on their northern neighbours by taking 4 in the 1st. It was a short-lived lead as Carl Levesque levelled the score at the break and then matched Ontario through 8 ends. Ontario helped when skip Mark Ideson, sitting second and third up 3 in the 8th, attempted to take out shot stone, but instead promoted Northern Ontario's stone to second shot. A draw to the 8 foot earned N. Ontario an extra end.
In the extra, Ontario were sitting 2 buried and a Leveesque hail mary takeout moved a lot of rocks and ended with an Ontario stone nudged against an Ontario stone on the button, After a considerable delay and a time-out, Ontario decided to throw their last rock away and take the chances on the measurement.
Their gamble paid off. Ontario won 10-9 and will face Quebec who have won their last 7 games, in the Page 3/4 game Saturday morning.
Friday March 23 - Draw 9 - With Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec assured of playoff spots, attention turned to the all Ontario match-up for the 4th spot. Mark Ideson's Ontario were guaranteed the place with a win over the Carl Levesque's Thunder Bay team, but were unable to get on the board before the break, finding themselves 7-0 down. A couple of singles and a further 2 from N. Ontario they shook hands on a 9-2 scoreline that meant they would face-ff after lunch in a tie-break. Click HERE for an eye-witness account.
Manitoba, who had begun the Championship with
4 straight wins, needed to stop their slide and add a fifth to join in the
toe-breaks. Their game against Quebec started slowly, with a blanked 1st end
and an exchange of singles that put Manitoba ahead 2-1 at the break. Quebec
returned with a 3 and then stole 5 more points to put paid to Manitoba's
defense of their title 9-2.
Saskatchewan needed a steal of 3 before the break to beat Host Team 7-4 and claim their place in the 1/2 Page game by virtue of their Round Robin defeat of Quebec.
Nova Scotia had put together 3 wins after starting with 5 losses, and continued that form with an opening 3 against Newfoundland and Labrador but surrendered a series of steals to lose 8-4.
Thursday March 22 - Draw 8 - Only two provinces have won a national championship and this afternoon saw one's hopes of a playoff place disappear, and the other's hang by a possible tie-break thread.
BC lost a game of singles to Nova Scotia 5-2, leaving both teams at 3-5 for the championship. Look HERE for an eye-witness report.
Manitoba, after winning their first 4 games, have lost 4 straight. They played leaders Alberta and were tied at 4 coming home with hammer. Alberta stole 2 for a 6-4 win that leaves Manitoba needing help if they are to qualify for the weekend's matches.
Saskatchewan booked their first ever playoff spot beating Newfoundland and Labrador 9-3. Joanne MacDonald's relentlessly upbeat skipping and encouragement for her 1-7 team has been frequently noted and is a credit to the spirit of the game.
Ontario put themselves in position for a playoff spot by pounding the Host Team 9-1. They play N. Ontario tomorrow in an attempt to wrest back the John McCrae Trophy and avoid a possible tie-break with Manitoba and/or N. Ontario.
Quebec won their 6th straight game, 8-6 over home team N. Ontario, stealing a single in the final end to win 8-6 and gain their first playoff place.
Thursday March 22 - Draw 7 - Newfoundland and Labrador posted their first win in the webcast game against the Host Team. They had only stolen one end in their first 6 games, but stole twice for the winning margin inn their 7-4 victory. Read a match report HERE.
Quebec were down 7-5 in the 7th against Ontario and were sitting 2 before their last rock was thrown before the broom could be put down. Fortunately it found the port to Ontario's saving stone, and Quebec posted 4 for a 9-7 win.
Manitoba appeared to have the game in hand against Nova Scotia, scoring in each of the first 3 ends, but gave up 3s in the 4th and 8th to slip to a 7-6 defeat to a team with only one previous win. The Manitobans, defending champions, still have to play the two teams at the top of the standings, Alberta and Quebec.
BC continued to slide despite the experience of Paralympian gold medallist Gerry Austgarden at skip and multiple national champion Frank LaBounty at 3rd. They began well against Saskatchewan, stealing 2 and gaining a 4-1 lead after 3 ends, But a Saskatchewan 3 before the break levelled the score, and Saskatchewan closed out the game with three single point steals to win 7-4.
Alberta got a small scare when, after opening with a 2 with hammer, Northern Ontario scored in the next four ends. Alberta regrouped, scored 2 in the 6th and stole 2s in 7 and 8 to stay top of the standings with an 8-4 win.
Wednesday March 21 - Draw 6 - The commentators watching the featured webcast between Saskatchewan and Manitoba agreed it was the Dale Bender show. The Saskatchewan skip made some exceptional shots to save his team, and none more timely than in the final end of a somewhat flattering 7-4 result. Up 2 without hammer Saskatchewan's front end were light creating plenty of guards for Manitoba to come around. With Manitoba lying 3 buried, Bender skinnied past a guard to draw to the four foot and take the end away, and save the win. You can read a report from the arena HERE.
There was good news and bad news for Newfoundland and Labrador, who faced a surging Quebec team. The good news is they held Quebec to singles. The bad news is Quebec won 7-0 in seven ends.
Nova Scotia started fast against N. Ontario, going ahead 5-0 after 3 but then giving it all back in the 4th. A single with hammer after the break, and a steal nosed them ahead, but N.Ontario tied it with 2 in the 7th. Nova Scotia were finally rewarded with their first win when they scored the deciding point in the 8th, denting the home team's ambition to stay top of the table.
Alberta put the disappointment of their first defeat in the afternoon by opening a 5-0 lead against the Host Team, and shutting the door with a 6 in the 4th for a 12-3 win that saw them alone at the top of the table.
Ontario were 6-0 ahead at the break playing BC but saw their lead disappear when they allowed enough rocks in play for BC to take 3 in the 7th and steal another 3 in the 8th. They saved their coach's blushes by taking the game 8-7 in an extra.
Wedesday March 21 - Draw 5 - There are no unbeaten teams after Draw 5 of the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships at the Fort William CC in Thunder Bay Onatario.
Alberta were comprehensively outplayed by a resurgent Quebec who have strung three wins together after losing both their games on the opening day. Though they had hammer after drawing closest to the botton during pre-game practice, Alberta had to wait till the 4th end to put a point on the board, and a steal of 2 by Quebec in the 6th for a 7-1 lead effectively finished the game. Alberta gave their first four steals of the championship in the 7-3 loss. You can read an eye-witness report HERE.
Manitoba, the other undefeated team going into tody;s play, found it equally heavy going against Ontario, who stole 5 ends, including 3 in the 7th before handsshakes for a 8-1 win.
Saskatchewan at 3-1 had played above expectations going into today but were cuaght off-guard by the local N. Ontario team who shot out to a 5-0 lead at the break. Dale Bender's team fought back with a steal of 2 in the 6th and 3 more in the 7th to nose ahead, but were unable to keel hometown skip Carl Levesque from taking 2 in the 8th for a 7-6 win.
Newfoundland/Labrador were hoping to recapture some of the form they showed in a narrow loss to Manitoba, and played BC tough at 2-2 a the break. BC then stole 7 unanswered points to win 9-2.
Something had to give when the other two winless teams, Nova Scotia and Host Team B. Ontario faced each other. Nova Scotia started well, leading 3-1 at the break, but then faded, allowing steals in the last 3 ends to lose 6-3.
Tuesday March 20 - Draw 4 - BC faced Manitoba, the only provincial team to have beaten them for a national title, with skip Gerry Austgarden taking over 4th stones from Frank LaBounty. A double takeout paved the way for an opening 3 for Manitoba in the 1st, and after a blank, Austgarden wrecked on a guard attempting to reach Manitoba's shot stone back of the 8.
BC got on the board with a LaBounty hit and roll behind cover, and BC added a steal in 5 when Denis Thiessen last rock wrecked on a guard. BC added single point steals in 6 and 7, but Manitoba used takeouts by 3rd Mark Wherret to set up an emphatic winning 4 when Thiessen took out BC's last stone. Manitoba won 8-4 to keep pace with unbeaten Alberta who pounded Newfoundland/Labrador 12 - 4. Joanne MacDonald was unable to recapture the magic that brought her Newfoundland/Labrador team so close to beating Manitoba this morning.
Quebec, after their shaky first day posted a second victory, stealing the last 6 points in an 11-2 defeat of winless Nova Scotia.
Saskatchewan fell 8-3 behind Ontario after 5 ends, but then tied the score in the 6th. Rookie skip Mark Ideson missed a takeout, leaving a lone Ontario rock in the house. Saskatchewan's Dale Bender didn't miss it. The game went to an extra with Saskatchewan posting a 10-9 win when their well guarded shot stone on the button survived a narrowly missed angle raise.
The featured webcast was an all-Northern Ontario affair. Carl Levesque's provincial champions went out to an early 5-1 lead over Rick Prudíhomm's Host Team, and a last end 2 by the Host Team left them on the short end of the 7-6 score. Read an eye-witness account HERE.
Tuesday March 20 - Draw 3 Newfoundland/Labrador have been the team everyone could beat for the past three Championships, but they put up a great effort against defending champions Manitoba in the morning webcast played in an excellent spirit.
Joanne MacDonald's squad, featuring 3 females, stole 2 in the first and held Manitoba to singles throughout the game. Manitoba stole in the 5th and 6th, and went in to the final end with hammer tied at 4-4. With skip's rocks to come, Manitoba were sitting 3 and Denis Thiessen had an opportunity to completely shut off the rings with an out-turn guard, but hogged his stone. MacDonald's last rock draw to the back of the four was heartbreakingly an inch heavy and wide, and Manitoba did not have to throw their last rock for the 5-4 win that keeps them at the top of the table, and Newfoundland/Labrador on the bottom. You can read an eye-witness report HERE.
Quebec finally showed some form, gaining their first win at the expense of Host Team 12-1 in 6 ends. Nova Scotia matched Saskatchewan 6-6 through 6 ends but faded, giving up steals in 7 and 8 to lose 9-6.
Alberta faced their old coach in their game against Ontario. The got off to a good start, stealing 1 in the 1st and a decisive 3 before the break. Though Ontario took in the 5th to pull within 2, they were shut-out the rest of the way, running out of rocks in the 8th with the score 7-3 to Alberta.
Northern Ontario earned a significant scalp, handing BC their first loss 8-3 despite giving up a steal in the opening end.
Monday March 19 - Draw 2 Play began almost an hour late for the second draw of the Canadian Nationals at the Fort William CC in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The official Opening Ceremonies had several speakers.
The games went very much to form with the only close game an extra end 7-6 win by Saskatchewan over Quebec who had stolen 2 in the 8th to tie. You can read a detailed match report HERE.
N. Ontario's Host team made things a little interesting when they took 3 in the 7th to pull within 2 of BC, but skip Gerry Austgarden's last rock (throwing 3rd) in the top 12 remained the final point.
Manitoba easily handled the local N.Ontario team, posting a 4 in the 2nd and stealing the last 4 points in their 10-2 win. Alberta added to Nova Scotia's pain in an 11-0 whitewash. The ice became increasingly heavy as the afternoon progressed, with hog to hog draw times under 13 seconds and Nova Scotia's lead had struggled with heavy ice this morning.
Newfoundland and Labrador received another shellacking, losing 12-1 to Ontario in their second 6-end game of the day.
Monday March 19 - Draw 1 - 10.30am - BC, with Paralympian gold medalist Gerry Austgarden skipping and throwing 3rd stone, jumped out to an early 4-0 stolen points lead in the game against Quebec, and the damage could have been worse with Frank LaBounty coming short on his final draw in the 1st for an additional point. Quebec skip Lesard managed a raise to limit BC to a single in the 2nd, and then drew through a narrow port to post 2 in the 3rd.
In the 4th BC takes only 1 as their final stone is short, and Quebec pull close with 2 in the 5th. In the 6th Lesard attempts a split to lie 2, but leaves BC an open hit for 3 and the team shakes hands after BC steal another point in the 7th.
Saskatchewan played favoured Alberta tough for 6 ends before giving up a steal of 2 in the 7th when skip Darwin Bender is short on a saving draw. Alberta win 7-5.
A makeshift host Host team of athletes from Sudbury and Thunder Bay gave defending champions Manitoba all they could handle before giving up a 3 in the 8 to lose 10-7.
In the featured webcast game, Ontario leaped out to a 5-0 lead after 1 and added a stolen point in the 2nd to see off Nova Scotia. A major difference was the excellent play of Ontario lead Shannon Wilcox, while D=Nova Scotia's Debbie Earle struggled for weight. Ontario's rookies won 10-5.
Newfoundland/Labrador had been hoping for improvement after two years of struggles, but were comprehensively beaten 12-1 by the rookie home team from N. Ontario.
Saturday March 17
- Preview - who's who and where they may finish
Manitoba won in 2011 after three consecutive bronze medals. At the beginning of this season they appeared the team with a plan. Mark Wherrett, 3rd for Wayne Ficek's Northern Ontario champions, relocated to Manitoba, probably strengthening the squad. They had a sponsor, travelled out of Manitoba and looked solid favourites for this year's final.
Then skip Chris Sobkowicz was passed over for
the 2012 Worlds despite his status as a carded athlete, and later decided to
sit out the rest of the season. Will Wherrett bring enough to the team to
compensate for the loss of Sobkowicz? It became conventional wisdom that
Manitoba's general surliness came from wanting to win too much. Now they
have won, they might relax and win again, this time with a smile.
BC - Last year saw BC's run of Championship success ended, but this year's Provincial Champions included 3 Paralympian gold medallists: Darryl Neighbour, Sonja Gaudet and Gerry Austgarden.
Darryl stayed home after medical issues
limited his playing time in Korea, and Sonja was not on the CCA's team
roster. Frank LaBounty and Alison Duddy, on the losing side of BC's two team
Provincial, are in Thunder Bay, as are Corinne Jensen and Ellis Tull. Those
four will be stretched to match the cohesion of my favoured teams. BC will
apparently be skipped by Austgarden, with LaBounty throwing 4th stones. BC Coach Karen Watson
has been drafted in by CurlBC just for the Championship.
Long shots: Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan,
Newfoundland-Labrador and Host Team N. Ontario.
Saskatchewan bring three of the four players who have yet to post a plus 500 record at the Nationals. Larry Schrader comes in at lead. It's hard to see where the improvement will come from for a team that plays competitively just once a year.
Newfoundland/Labrador adds yet another female to their squad, Cecilia Carroll replacing Darlene Jackman while Felix Green moves up to 3rd on a team that has managed only one win from the past two championships.
Host team N. Ontario has been created
from Sudbury and Thunder Bay athletes sponsored by Medichair Sudbury owner
Norm Gervais, an passionate advocate for and supporter of wheelchair
Standings after Round Robin &
(click on team for team members)
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