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Saturday, Jun. 23, 2018
Northern Ontario survives five team logjam at nationals
by Randy Pascal

The goal was to make the championship pool, and the Northern Ontario rink of Robbie Gordon, Ron Henderson, Dion Dumontelle and Doug Hong are not about to lose any sleep over reaching their target by the skin of their teeth.

With the field at the 2017 Everest Senior Men's Canadian Curling Championship broken into two preliminary pools of seven teams each, squads from across the country were trying to vie for a top four placement, within their grouping, in order to keep their hopes of a national crown alive.

In a highly unusual turn of events, New Brunswick (Terry Odishaw) would lead the way in Pool "B" with a record of 6-0, with Northern Ontario finishing deadlocked with no less than four other provinces (Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta), all at 3-3.

Given that the Northwest Territories went winless at 0-6, the head to head matchups in the five team logjam solved nothing. The tie-breaker would come down to the cumulative score of the "shots to the button" that took place, prior to each game, in order to determine hammer in the opening end.

With the Sudbury Curling Club rink having secured last rock advantage to start, in five of their six outings, they were feeling pretty good about their chances. While final calculations (in terms of the actual scores) have not been release, the end result would see Northern Ontario finish with the second best draw score, behind only Alberta.

Manitoba would join those two teams in the championship pool, along with New Brunswick, while Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan were summarily dismissed to the seeding pool. Now before one heaps mounds of praise on skip Gordon alone, it's important to note that tournament rules require that each member of a rink must throw a minimum of two throws over the course of the six round robin games, with no curler allowed to throw twice in the same game.

Having been down this road before, the locals had a pre-established routine whereby either Henderson, Dumontelle or Hong will throw their first draw to the button, with Gordon always following suit.

Having dodged the bullet of relegation to the seeding pool, the northern gents have backed themselves into a bit of a corner following a 7-5 loss to Québec (Robert MacLean) earlier this morning.

Now sitting at 7-0, New Brunswick have all but secured a playoff berth, with Québec also in great shape at 6-1. Needing to finish in the top three to play in the semi-finals, Northern Ontario will enter a critical provincial rivalry match with Ontario (Howard Rajala @ 5-2) in a must-win situation.

Following that encounter at 6:30 p.m. this evening, Team Gordon still must face Newfoundland & Labrador (Mark Noseworthy @ 3-3) and Prince Edward Island (Philip Gorveatt @ 3-4) on Friday, knowing they likely need to "win out", just to have a shot at a head to head tie-breaker.

The Canadian Seniors will wrap up Saturday in Fredericton, with both the gold and bronze medal games scheduled for 2:00 p.m.

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