Hack to Hack

Friday, March 07, 2014

Last Day Of Regular Round Robin at Brier

Martin Crete of Team Quebec. Most likely choked on a tonsil a couple of days this week as he and his team look to scream their way into the playoffs. They are up 6 - 4 against Alberta's Kevin Koe as I type this. Me, being a die-hard Gushue fan, will require a loss by Team Quebec AND a loss by Saskatchewan for the Gush to make a tie breaker. With Gushue at 5 losses, the loss of Saskatchewan and Quebec would bring them also to 5 losses and force a tie-breaker. It seems to be a tall order. With Gushue's fate in the hands of James Gratten and Kevin Koe, all he can do is sit and wait for it all to unfold.

I had hoped to see Greg Balsdon and his Ontario rink beat Saskatchewan yesterday evening and he had a shot to do it in the 8th with a straight forward double for 4. He set it out and only scored one. That was the epitome of an anticlimax for me but that's curling....the game of missed opportunities.

Meanwhile, the Dominion Club Championships are being held at the BRCC this weekend. Play kicked off today. Two BRCC teams are in this regional playdown...Team Anita Moran for the ladies and Team Dave Mitchell for the mens. Good luck to both these squads.

Check out the BRCC this weekend for some good curling.

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Gushue's "Unbrier"

I know what you're thinking. What is a picture of a sinking ship doing on a curling blog? Well, metaphorically, that is the Gushue sinking ship. You will  notice that it is not fully under water yet but it sure is close to the point of no return. And so is Gushue. With 4 losses in the Brier, the NL squad is in tough. If not already too late, it certainly will be too late if this squad sustains any more losses. And to make matters worse, Gushue will be taking on Team Morris in today's first game. Morris is on a roll so the Gush will have to get it together!

I had hoped this was going to be Gushue's Brier. And no doubt, so did he. But, it may not happen this year. In the meantime, Alberta's Team Koe is looking good. And so is Stoughton but I expected them to be at the top of the leader board. And also no surprise, Morris is in a tie for first as well. The only real surprise here is the dismal showing of Team Gushue. I got an email from a Newfie buddy of mine yesterday, following the loss to Steve Laycock of Team Saskatchewan...to quote my longtime friend..."I am so over Gushue!"

Yes, it has been quite the roller coaster ride with the Gush. But, it's not over for him yet but he has alot of winning to do, moving forward.

Eddie MacKenzie (PEI) had some good games and has become a bit of a crowd favorite...the crowd always cheers an underdog. With relegation staring him in the face, Eddie etal will have to find a way to generate some wins and avoid that nasty business.

I am not a fan of the new relegation system. I think it will be discouraging for the weaker teams. Every province should be able to play in  the National Championship. To punish them undermines the whole spirit of the competition. My opinion is,  if it wasn't broken...why on earth would the CCA try to fix it. Sometimes, I think the CCA is comprised of non-curlers when I think about some of the decisions they make. They are supposed to be hellbent on growing the game...the introduction of the relegation system does little to do that and certainly may have a negative impact on the amount of teams wishing to participate in competitive curling.

So as 11 am nears, I am starting to bite my nails and harbor hope that the Gush can pull this one out. I said in the beginning of the Brier, Gushue's success will depend on the performance of Brett Gallant. I was so right...Brett has been struggling and Gushue (to his credit) had made alot of big shots to bail out the team. There comes a time when the big shot cannot be made and then the game can be lost. Brett Gallant is an excellent player and if he is able to pick up his game, then Team Gushue will be able to stop the Johnny Moe Express.

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic

Friday, February 28, 2014

Local Boys Make Good In A Canadian Gold Medal Week

BRCC's Team Villeneuve. After a 5 day run at the Northern Ontario Senior Mens Provincials, this squad turned out to be the third place finishers. With Bob Villeneuve at the helm, Glen Austin at vice, Terry Fryer at second and Dan Horton at lead...this crew had a pretty good run making it to the semi-final.  The winner of the provincials was the Rob Gordon rink from Sudbury defeating the Bruce Munroe rink (also from Sudbury) in the final. So what's to take away from all this? Well, on a personal note, I enjoyed playing with these guys. There were highs and lows and overall, and we handled both pretty well.

One thing is for sure. Play well and you can win. Miss a bunch of shots and it will bite you in the derriere.

Never say die. We came back from a 5 - 0 deficit to win a game in an extra. For me, this was the highlight of the week. Nothing sweeter than a "come - from - behind" victory.

Bob Villeneuve, in my humble opinion, made the shot of the week. He threw a very low percentage angle raise double takeout and stuck it. Miss it, and the game is out of reach. Make it, a an ensuing momentum shift takes place. That's the shot that I will remember. I should add that Bob was battling a sore knee and iced it between games...despite the discomfort, he played through it and had a very strong showing. Kudos to Bob for that.

And finally, if you want some post- curling competition, get Terry Fryer to fire up his I-phone and play the millions of tunes he has loaded on it and play a round of "Name That Tune". Great fun and Juha Cantavera (Soo Curlers) was a force to be reckoned with....but I think I held up the BRCC end very well.

In BRCC action, top team in the BRCC Ladies is Team Joanna Hammond with only one loss this entire season. Great job by these ladies (with Hayley Horton, Julia Horton and Tamara Behnke).

The Mens League just finished up regular season play. The top 16 teams will move on to the playoffs but there will be another flight for the remaining 5 teams. Playoffs begin Thursday, March 6 (I'm not sure if there are any playoff games on Monday, march 3 but I presume Westy will get hold of the skips). Kudos to the Molson Exers (Team Keith Rouselle) who have finished regular season play in a tie for second place with Team Al Viel. The Exers have had it together all season long...great job guys).

Congrats to Team Pat Dakin (with BRCC's Al Viel and Kelly Barry) for winning the A Event in the BRCC Mixed. I'm not sure about the B, C or D Event winners but I will post those winners in a later post.

Huge Kudos to Team Brad Jacobs (big plus for NO curling) and Team Jennifer Jones in winning double gold at the Olympics. Way to go in making Olympic Curling history!

The Brier starts this weekend. Yahoo! So, with Stoughton heavily favoured to win, here are my predictions:

Top 4 teams at the end of the week: Stoughton, Gushue, Morris and Koe. The final? Gushue vs Stoughton or Morris with Gushue winning it all! Yes, that's right. I'm giving it to Gushue. Not since Jack McDuff in '76 has a Newfoundland team won the Brier but Gushue has a tough squad and I am thinking this year is the year! I know what you're thinking....a biased prediction. Indeed it is. Admittedly, I'm a Gushue fan but they are a good squad and they have played well this year.

Other Brier participants include:

Eddie MacKenzie (PEI): Probably won't make the playoffs. Not enough exposure to the big teams.

Jamie Murphy (NS): Will not make the playoffs but kudos to this sqaud on a great win against former Brier winner Mark Dacey.

James Gatten (NB): Tough team and Gratten is a solid player. They have the potential to make the playoffs but they will have to bring it big time.

Jean Michel Menard (QC): A black horse in this competition. They are a real good team and also a former Brier winner. You never know with these guys...they might get on a roll and scream themselves into a playoff spot.

Greg Balsdon (ON): First Brier appearance. lots of experience playing against the big boys but I cannot see them getting to the playoffs.

Jeff Currie (NO): First Brier appearance. No real experience with the big boys. I hope they do well since they are a Northern Ontario team.

Steve Laycock (SK): Tough team with ,lots of experience on the WCT. Definitely potential to make the playoffs but once again, they will have to have their A Game all week long.

Jamie Koe (NWT/YT): Jamie is back for his umpteenth appearance. Could be a big surprise. He has lots of experience but can he bring it all week and get to a playoff? Time will tell.

So that's it...starting tomorrow it will be a week of the Brier. And my Gushue roller coaster ride will begin. Apparently, the Saturday night game is Gushue vs Stoughton. You can be sure I'll be watching that one! So, kick back and enjoy the ride at the Big Show!

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

China No Pushover

Liu......Who knew?......Quite the coup.......Is there anything he can't do?....For the Canucks, it was almost boo hoo.....what a crew!..... China grew!...almost upended the Soo!.....that game was a zoo!.....and we have to play them again too!....

Yes, the rhymes go on and on. What a game that was between Jacobs and Liu. Quite possibly one of the best games I have ever seen. It had everything...the highs, the lows...incredible shot-making, a fabulous come-back and in the end, a stupendous (is that a word?) shot by Jacobs for the win.

Who says there is no drama in curling? And guess what, they will go at it again in the semi-final (tomorrow). Great run for the Canucks as they win their first game, lose their next two and then win 6 straight to end up in a tie for second place. I am hoping beyond hope that they can get to the gold medal game but they will have to get by China who are one tough nut to crack.

I have been watching China's line scores all season long (WCT events) and they have been solid. They have won a few big spiels and placed well in others. I just knew they were one of the teams to beat and I was right. They have been fabulous. Bottom line....international curling is alive and well. But I digress....Team Jacobs have battled the nerves and have settled in to being the solid team that they are. Not surprisingly, they are in a semi-final in the Olympics. C'mon boys...bring home the hardware!!

And then there is Team Jones on the womens' side. They rolled to a perfect 9 - 0 finish and will play Muirhead in the semi-final. I have to wonder about the tournament set up. It just seems a little unfair to me. There is no reward for placing first in the round-robin play....as in the Canadian Page Playoff system. And to go undefeated through round robin play (Olympic curling history made there)...no reward for that either. Jones will now have to keep winning to get to the gold medal game. Lose the semi and she will be playing for bronze even though she would have only 1 loss. There is just something about that, that gets in my craw. C'mon ladies...keep it going!

In BRCC news, the senior mens Provincials will start tomorrow in Sturgeon Falls. Team Villeneuve (Bob Villeneuve, Glen Austin, Terry Fryer, Dan Horton) will be one of the 8 teams in this competition looking to represent Northern Ontario in the Canadian Nationals (in Yellowknife in March). Here's to hoping.....

Next week will mark the end of regular season play in the BRCC mens league. The top 16 teams will come out of this and head to the play-offs. The other 8 will also have games to play and they land in the B-flight.
Top teams include Team (Keith)Rouselle (the Molson Exers), Team (Dave) Mitchell (current club champions), Team (Bob) Villeneuve, Team (Al) Viel and Team (Glen) Austin.

I have no news for the BRCC Ladies standings but I will get to the club and report on that one in my next blog.

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Canadian Women Roll On In Sochi

Jennifer Jones. Rollin' along at the Sochi Olympics with an impressive 4 - 0 record thus far. This is the dream tournament for this well-decorated veteran and she looks intent on being golden. The Winnipeg Free Press wrote a heartfelt article about Jennifer and an interview with her mother and father. What an incredible thing it must be for a parent to see their child competing and doing well in an Olympic Games. And pretty anxious times as well. Especially when watching that nail-biter against Muirhead from GRB.

Team Jacobs has put themselves back on the upside with a win today (last night) against Russia. They are now 2 - 2 and hopefully will use that win to put some wind in their sails and get the momentum going.

The late and early hours of these games are tough on a working stiff. I've been watching the midnight games and then waking up at 5 am to watch the morning game. A true curling chronic indeed but man, by 5 pm, I need toothpicks to keep my eyes open. Nutsville for sure, but these are the Olympics and they only come around every 4 years. I am hoping that the next winter Olympics will be hosted in a location with a timezone that is easier to work with.

In BRCC womens' action, it looks like Team Anita Moran (with Joanna Hammond, Hayley Horton and Denise Hutchings) will represent the BRCC at the Dominion Club Championships in March. With a win over Team Lucy Ann Trudeau last night, Anita and her squad earned the berth into this event. For the men, it will be Dave Mitchell and his crew (Gator Fortin, Richard Olmstead and Scott Smith)...by virtue of winning the club championship last season. This event will be hosted by the BRCC so here's a good weekend to hang out at the club and watch some good curling as teams from all over the region will be here to compete. This event will go off March 7, 8 and 9. Save the date!

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Homan Off To Worlds

And for the second consecutive year, Team Rachael Homan is going to the worlds after an impressive 13 - 0 record. Truly a remarkable run..in fact, this squad has a 25 - 1 record in both Scotties that they have played in. Amazing! They will be a tough nut to crack at the worlds as well.

In Olympic action, Team Jones has gone 3 - 0 on the womens' side while Team Jacobs sits at 1 - 2. Most likely not what was expected, but there is lots of curling to go and certainly lots of time to get the ship back on an even keel. No need to panic yet, by far.

Monday night at the BRCC saw action in the Mixed League. All the sheets were full in the early draw and 1 sheet in the late draw.

GREAT DELIVERY: Michel Rivard. Michel is the BRCC ice director and when he is not working on the ice, he's curling on it. He has certainly improved his game. I watched a few of his shots last night and his delivery is rock - solid. He has the soft weight touch and this is the type of game where he will take you down. Excellent job.

OUTLANDISH CURL: You might have noticed the incredible curl on Sheet A. If you get out past the 4 foot line, the rock will go sideways almost towards the center. But this is a tempoary thing as the crew are busy building up the sides. Once they finish scraping, etc, you will find zero falls on the outside sheets and lots of curl. Great job by the ice crew.

FELLOW CURLING CHRONIC: Dan Horton. Dan Horton is a huge curling enthusiast. He plays as often as he can. He plays lead for Team Villeneuve and will be heading to the Northern Ontario Provincials (Senior Mens) next week. Dan Horton most likely holds the record for most games played as a spare. He almost  never turns a game down and he does not care about which position he plays. There's a BRCC asset.

ON THE FENCE: Kristy Blanchet. Kristy is the current president of the BRCC. This is, in fact, her second term. Being the president of the club can feel like a thankless position but it is a busy one and Kristy does her job well. Over the past few years, Kristy has done alot for the club and sometimes it may not be evident just how much effort she puts into the running of the club. She is, presently, on the fence as to whether her tenure with the board will continue. If you see her around, give her kudos because she does work hard and it would be a good thing to have her stay on as a part of the board. Let's face it, the BRCC is a pretty successful little curling club...Kristy is a part of the success formula.

UNDER THE RADAR: Donna Lediett. Ever watch Donna curl? She makes an awful lot of shots. She seems to fly under the radar a bit but she plays in two leagues and when she is hot, she is hot. If you play against Donna in the same position, you better bring it because she does, every week!

AWESOME FRONT END: Terry McDonald and Kim Bates. Here is a curling couple that you see around the club all the time. They play front end for Michel Rivard in the Monday Mixed. Between the two of them, they quietly go about the business of providing front end support for their skipper and man, they make lots of shots.

The BRCC Mixed is coming up in a couple of weekends. From what I understand, the spiel is full at 16 teams (a 2 day event). If you are not playing in this, you can still come hang out at the club and watch some fun games. They have a dance on Saturday night where you can cut a rug. Always a good time...don't miss it.

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic

Sunday, February 09, 2014

David and Goliath?

David and Goliath. Is this picture a good metaphor for the final of the 2014 STOH? Many would say that it is so. Team Homan is a powerhouse and have beaten all comers. In fact, Rachael Homan has yet to throw her last rock. Definitely the Goliath in this upcoming game. And they are worthy of the Goliath image..they make so many big shots and are so talented throughout the entire line up....it would seem there are no weaknesses.

And then there's Team Sweeting...the David. They have earned their way to this final with a combination of excellent shot-making and power sweeping. And here they are, capable of taking down the giant but they will have to execute and keep it together. Joanne Courtney will have to outcurl Emma Miskew.

But in the Bible, David prevailed over Goliath but it took a good shot with his sling. If history isd the be repeated, it will take several good shots with curling stones. I am anticipating a low scoring first half because of alot of defensive play.

Meanwhile, the bronze Medal game is presently underway. The bronze is a pretty good showing in a National championship but for these teams, perhaps a bit bittersweet. For Chelsea Carey and her team, my hat is off. They played a brilliant 1 - 2 game and came back and played an excellent semi-final. Certainly an outstanding showing for their first STOH. I'm thinking that I have watched the next Jennifer Jones. Perhaps others have recognized that as well and Team Carey will find a great sponsor and will get out there in all the big tournaments.

Saskatchewan had a good week too. Certainly nothing to sneeze at but it seems that a win in the big game continues to elude them. This is a seasoned team of awesome players yet they are still short of the potential I think they have. I hope they stay together but I seem to have read somewhere that Sheri Anderson will be stepping back from the game so there might be a change in the third position.

In Mens provincial action, Martin is in the Alberta final and will face off against the winner of Koe and Matt Blanchard tonight. Also, John Morris was through to the BC final and will face Jason Montgomery tonight. I noticed in New Brunswick that Mark LeCoq and James Gratten were the top two teams in that provincial so you never know, James might or might not get through to his millionth Brier! Also, for NL, Gushue is through again. Once more, I will be hoping to see Gushue win a Brier..not since `76 (Jack McDuff) has it been done. I have rooted for the Gushe since 2003 and for me, the emotional rollercoaster begins once again on March 1.

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic

Saturday, February 08, 2014

When The Whip Comes Down

When the whip comes down. The Stones sang about it and Saskatchewan's Team Lawton just lived it! What started out to be an advantage Saskatchewan eventually turned into a complete reversal which saw Alberta and Team Sweeting controlling the second half of the game. She's a cool customer, that Val Sweeting and with a few good shots from her teammates, they pick up a convincing win and they will play the red hot Chelsea Carey squad from Manitoba in this evening's semi-final. Message to Chad H., although there were some blowouts in the regular round robin play, the playoff games are fabulous. The solid future of curling at the national level is assured so you can wipe that brow and kick back to watch some first rate weekend curling.

Manitoba is just coming off a tough loss to Team Canada in a game of the ages. But, if they can carry that level of play into this evening's match with Alberta, they will be very difficult to beat. I think the key to Alberta's success tonight will be Joanne Courtney playing lights out in the third position and staying with Kristy McDonald. I'm inclined to think that the higher percentage in this position will be directly proportional to the team's success. We shall see.

Looking at the three teams still in the mix, the bronze medal game won't be no gimmee either.

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic

Prego Power!

Kristy McDonald. Third for Team Carey and Manitoba. To watch the brilliant shots made by this lady in last night's 1 - 2 game at the STOH, I got to wondering if there was a correlation between being pregnant and playing good. You might recall Susan O'Connor, third for Cheryl Bernard has been pregnant in several competitions and played lights out. The same thing happened last night for Kristy.

Last night's game was among the best womens' curling game that I have ever witnessed. The shot-making was spectacular. I will admit here that I was all Team Canada but I cannot take anything away from Team Carey who stayed in it right to the very end. A hard one to lose and a tough one to win.

Today's game will have Lawton's Saskatchewan team facing off against Alberta's Val Sweeting. The winner of this game will face off against Manitoba's Carey with the winner of that game going through to face Team Homan. In the beginning, I predicted that the final would be Homan playing against either Lawton or Sweeting, but after last night's spectacular display, I can't help but wonder if I already witnessed the final. If Team Carey plays as they did last night, then Sweeting and Lawton will have to be at their very best to win. And the skill of Kristy McDonald will be a huge part of this.

And what about Homan and Team Canada? A powerhouse to be sure. How is it they steamrolled their way through the field to end up 11 - 0? I think their style of play and their big weight capabilities makes their game a likeness to a men's game and other womens' teams find this hard to deal with. Some of the shots that Homan made last night were out of this world. Really exciting to watch. And the ability of Lisa Weagle to throw those Weagles (tick shots) just made it that much harder to set up a steal in the last end. I expect that Homan will get through and go to the Worlds. If they play to the level they are capable of, they will be unstoppable.

To watch the mothers of the two skips last night, I can just imagine the anxiety these two ladies were feeling as their daughters were out there giving it their all. Both moms should be proud because both daughters put on a show last night that will have people singing accolades today.

The drama continues......

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic

Friday, February 07, 2014

STOH Playoff Stage Set

Chelsea Carey...Team Manitoba. I did  not predict them in a 1 - 2 game but there you have it. What a week this squad has had  9 - 2...certainly nothing to sneeze at. This squad has played excellent but they better hang on to that because they will be facing the Homan powerhouse tonight and that crew is on fire. 11 - 0 in this Scotties and 10 - 1 in last years Scotties makes this team a force to be reckoned with.

The 3 - 4 game will feature Alberta and Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan had a shot at the 1 - 2 game but with the loss to Sarah Koltun and her Territories rink, she had to settle for the 3 - 4. All in all though, not too shabby.

And how about that Alberta rink. Great showing this year with an impressive 8 - 3 record. Joanne Courtney, third for this crew has been excellent. What a sweeper...leave her alone and I am sure she could start melting the ice.

Disappointing run for the Newfie gals. Starting off strong (pardon the pun) with a 4 - 1 record, the bottom came out of er' with the next 6 consecutive losses. I'm sure that will give this able squad something to work on for next year.

And what happened to Heather Smith and her Bluenosers? I expected much more from them but it was not to be. Back to the drawing board (once again, pardon the pun) for this crew. Heather struggled with draw weight this week and it cost dearly.

Loved watching the youngsters from the Territories. Not the greatest record but these young ladies were certainly crowd favorites. I hope beyond hope that they can find a great sponsor and get out there on the WCT. I hope they make it back next year.

And then there's Team New Brunswick and  Bunny Eyes. Boy, I just like this team so much but there were costly misses during the round robin that kept her at a 6 - 5 record. Once again, if these gals could find a good sponsor and get out on the WCT, I think they would be awesome.

And here's a thought...Kristy MacDonald, third for Team Carey. Now 5 months pregnant and curling up a storm. She would be 7 months at the Worlds. Would this be a hindrance to her curling performance? Since I have no experience with being pregnant, I cannot answer that question but I'm thinking it would be difficult. I mean, I have trouble curling after I have eaten a big meal and am stuffed...I just can't see me being effective carrying around a 5 - 7 lb bundle of joy. But what do I know.

Absolutely loved the BC team, Van Osch. I rooted for them so much and would have been over the moon to see them in a playoff spot. But it was not to be but boy, they had an excellent showing. And what's more, their fifth played more than I have ever seen an alternate play...in three different positions during the week. What a great player this Patti Knezevic is. The epitome of curling ambidexterity.

BIG PLUS: No more North American Van Lines commercials with the guys carrying the old TV with Russ Howard on it. Won't miss those commercials at all. No one can say they didn't get their money's worth out of the commercial!

2014 Sochi: I watched part of the Opening Ceremonies and managed to catch a glimpse of Brad Jacobs and Ryan Fry. How wonderful a feeling to be an Olympic Athlete and out there marching with the rest of Team Canada. Talk about living the dream. If they play to their potential, they will be "golden".

In the Northern Ontario Mens Provincials, Blind River's Stepahne Lemiex sits at 0 - 4 as I type this. But don't let that number fool you...they have played some tough games and lost squeakers. If this squad stays together, they cannot help but be stronger. This is a great team...no doubt about it.\

Locally, the season rolls on at the BRCC.

SUPER-IMPROVED CURLER: Helene Rancourt. Helene has a great style and makes alot of shots. If she played more, she would be too much for the modern curler! And with her excellent attitude, she would lend balance to any squad.

GREAT SHOT-MAKER: Marshall Chow. Marshall is another one of those guys that are brimming with potential. He is an excellent shot-maker. If he curled more, there would be no holding him back.

MY EQUAL AS A CURLING CHRONIC: Al Viel. Awesome curler and awesome guy on and off the ice. Al loves the game and plays as much as he possibly can. He could be my double..even though he has more hair.

FUN ON THE ICE: Chris Zagar. May not win alot of games, but he's got game and he knows how to enjoy himself out on the ice.

So that's it for now. Tonight's 1 - 2 game promises to be a barnburner. I have to admit that I am rooting for Homan. I would just love to see these awesome young ladies get back to a Worlds and dominate and come home with the gold. But they will have to remain hot.....it's like Flip Wilson said (and I know I dated myself...and if you get this, you're dated too!) "When you're hot, you're hot and when you're not, you're not!"

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic