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Saturday, Apr. 21, 2018
Little to no Christmas break for the curlers
2017-12-16
by Randy Pascal

In the world of competitive curling, there truthfully is not much of a break for Christmas.

That much is clearly evident, on a local front, with competitions both recent and future, keeping Sudbury curlers hopping in the area, the region, the province, and across the globe.

Before moving back to the future, a well deserved shoot-out is extended to Lockerby/Laurentian graduate Kendra Lilly, skip Krista McCarville and their Thunder Bay front end of Ashley Sippala and Sarah Potts.

The NOCA champions remained in the hunt for a playoff berth at the 2017 Tim Hortonís Roar of the Rings right through to the final day of round robin play, losing to both Chelsea Carey (5-2) and Val Sweeting (7-6) last Friday to finish the week at 4-4.

With a chance to garner the Team Canada entry at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea on the line, Lilly, McCarville and company would fall heartbreakingly close to forcing a tie-breaker game with Jennifer Jones at 5-3.

In the end, the womenís crown would be claimed by the Rachel Homan rink (Emma Miskew, Joanne Courtney, Lisa Weagle) while the menís title was bestowed upon Kevin Koe and his crew that included Marc Kennedy, Brent Laing and Ben Hebert.

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Speaking of donning the national colours, action is just underway for a pair of young local rinks competing half a world away. Team Burns (Krysta Burns, Megan Smith, Sara Guy, Laura Masters) and Team Horgan (Tanner Horgan, Jacob Horgan, Nicholas Bissonnette, Maxime Blais) are currently in China, proudly representing the maple leaf at the 2nd Qinghai International Curling Elite Competition.

While the opportunity was too good to pass up, Northern Ontario weather did the locals no favours. Skip Horgan and the lads had their flight out of Sudbury delayed a full 24 hours, missing the original connection and arriving in Xining only hours before their opening game.

They paid the price in day one, falling 9-7 to Greg Drummond of Scotland and 8-7 to Andrew Stopera of the USA. With six remaining matches required to complete round robin play, there is still time for the defending NOCA junior champs to get themselves back in the race, starting with their Saturday outing opposite Thomas Ulsrud of Norway.

Results were not yet posted on line for the Burns quartet, as the Canadian Junior Curling Championships bronze medal winners, who went on to capture the U Sports Canadian University Championships a few months later, kick off their schedule against Russia.

They will then do battle with Switzerland and Sweden on Sunday, continuing play right through until Friday (Saturday/Sunday if they qualify for the playoffs).

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The numbers are favourable for a quartet of Sudbury senior menís rinks competing in North Bay, this weekend, part of an eight team field at the NOCA Senior Menís East Qualifier. More than half of the assembled squads, five teams in all, will advance to provincials taking place from January 24th to 28th at the Tarentorus Curling Club in Sault Ste Marie.

The local contingent includes 2017 NOCA champions Robbie Gordon, Ron Henderson, Dion Dumontelle and Doug Hong, representing Curl Sudbury. Joining them, from the same club, is the foursome of Michel Mayer, Robert McIlvena, Marc Larochelle and Luc Roy, while one team from each of the Idylwylde Golf & Country Club and Copper Cliff Curling Club make it a clean 50% breakdown between Nickel City curlers, and those from Timmins, Sault Ste Marie and North Bay.

Team Munro (Bruce Munro, Duncan Bell, Keith Furevick, Rich Schmidt) are wearing their traditional Idylwylde colours while Chris Gordon, Alastair Giles, Tim Lloyd and Craig Ramsay carry the banner for Copper Cliff.

Play began on Thursday, with both editions of Team Gordon sitting at 2-0, tied with Mark Brown from North Bay, while Munro broke even at 1-1 and Mayer and his trio look to break into the win column on Friday.

Limited entries in the womenís regional means that all of the hopefuls have moved directly on to the Northern Ontario playdowns in January. This coming weekend also sees a pair of younger local teams looking to punch their ticket to the 2018 Ontario Winter Games, as Bella Croisier and Samuel Branconnier are in Sault Ste Marie, site of their regional qualifier.

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There will be very little time, post Christmas, for many of the above-mentioned folks to catch their collective breath as the Best Western U21 Provincials sees teams travelling to Fort Frances from December 27th to the 30th, while the Scotties Provincials come to the Idylwylde Golf & Country Club from January 10th to the 14th.

The NOCA will also be hosting their playdowns for the Masters athletes at the same time, while the Travelers Menís West and East Qualifiers take place from January 4th to 7th in Hearst, and January 18th to 21st in Sault Ste Marie.

Science North
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