The Punkari Brothers 2019 Brier Preview

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Written by Brett Punkari (With Cameos by Lucas Punkari)

As the provincial playdowns were wrapping up, we were just about on the verge of having a bizarre field at this year’s Brier in Brandon. Once the dust settled though, we ended up with a mostly top-heavy field, though there are a few midfield wildcards in the mix.

Once again, our format is the same as our Scotties preview, as we’ll go 1-15 in the standings before talking about the two Wild Card teams, along with how everyone did on the Tour and Slam Circuits.

Before we begin, let’s look at the Pools.

Pool A

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • New Brunswick
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Team Canada

Pool B

  • Manitoba
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
  • Northern Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Wild Card
  • Yukon

1) Team Canada (Bally Haly Golf and Curling Club – St. John’s)

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 Skip – Brad Gushue, Vice – Mark “Bam Bam” Nichols, Second – Brett Gallant, Lead – Geoff Walker

Overall Season Record: 35-15

Grand Slam Record: 19-9 (Champion, Quarter-Finalist, Quarter-Finalist, Quarter-Finalist, Semi-Finalist)

It’s been a fairly consistent season for Brad Gushue out on the tour, although he hasn’t had a ton of success in the playoffs in those events, other than than the Elite 10 at the start of the year. He has has addmited that the team is a little bit sloppy and just needs to sharpen things up a little bit. He has a chance to be the first skip since Randy Ferbey to win three Brier’s in a row this week, so it will be interesting to see if the Gushue of the last two years shows up come playoff time.

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1) Team Canada (Brad Gushue)

When in doubt, go with the team that’s been the standard bearers in Canada for the last couple of seasons. As Brett said, they haven’t been dominant on the tour this year, but ask Rachel Homan how much that did for her at the Scotties. At any rate, with a chance to make history this week, I expect Gushue and his rink to be on top form. Plus, there’s also the possibility of the Edin/Gushue rubber match in Lethbridge at the Worlds, so that should get you fired up.

2) Northern Ontario (Community First Curling Centre – Sault Ste. Marie)

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Skip – Brad Jacobs “Cups”, Vice – Ryan “Medium Size” Fry, Second – E.J Harnden “Edge”, Lead – Ryan “Pete” Harnden

Overall Season Record: 41-16

Grand Slam Record: 16-12 (Semi-Finalist, DNQ, Champion, Quarter-Finalist, Quarter-Finalist)

Obviously the big story involving this rink this year was what happened with Ryan Fry out in Red Deer, but that hasn’t affected this team’s level of play one bit, as Marc Kennedy and Matt Wozniak filled in seamlessly in December.

Early on in the year, it looked the team hit a wall after missing the playoffs at the Slam for the first time since 2010. However, the arrival of Adam Kingsbury (yes, that Adam Kingsbury) seemed to do wonders as they seem to have mellowed out a bit and picked up wins at the Tour Challenge and the Canada Cup (when Kennedy played for fry). This looks to be their best best shot at a second Brier title, though they are in the tougher pool and have to face the Wild Card winner right off the bat.

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2) Northern Ontario (Brad Jacobs)

Ryan Fry’s Red Deer misadventures asides, it’s been a pretty good season for the Soo Crew, especially with how they played since Adam Kingsbury came in. It’s their best chance at a title since 2015 when they lost to Pat Simmons in an extra-end and it should be a battle of the Brads in Brandon. However, Jacobs has lost a few strange games in the past, such as last year’s 3 vs. 4 game to Brendan Bottcher. If they can avoid those defeats, they should be in great shape.

3) Alberta (The Glencoe Club – Calgary)

Home Hardware Canada Cup 2018 TEAM KOE The Glencoe Club, Calgary, Alberta Skip: Kevin Koe Third: B.J. Neufeld Second: Colton Flasch Lead: Ben Hebert .    Curling Canada/ michael burns photo

Skip – Kevin “The ‘King’ of Clock Management” Koe, Vice – B.J. Neufeld, Second – Colton Flasch “Savior of the Universe”, Lead – “Benny Heebz” Ben Hebert

Overall Season Record: 45-19

Grand Slam Record: 18-10 (Quarter-Finalist, Runner-up, Quarter-Finalist, Semi-Finalist, Quarter-Finalist)

The new look Koe team has gotten off to a pretty start in the first year together, especially with at the first World Cup event back in the fall, although they have had a few situations where time clock problems have reared their ugly head. Clock chaos aside, Koe’s a deadly player when he’s on his game and not being indecisive on his shot calls. That indecision might be something to watch during the week.

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3) Alberta (Kevin Koe)

Other than his rough result as the host province in 2015 in Calgary, Koe has made the final in all of his other trips to the Brier as a skip. I’m not sure his lineup is as strong as his previous squads, but his shot making alone should put in him the title mix again this week, as he looks to be the one team (depending on the Wild Card winner) that can spoil a Battle of the Brads in the final.

4) Manitoba (West St. Paul Curling Club)

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Skip – “Magic” Mike McEwen, Vice – Reid Carruthers, Second – Derek Samagalski, Lead – Colin Hodgson

Overall Season Record: 47-28

Grand Slam Record: 10-13 (Runner-Up, DNQ, DNQ, DNQ, DNQ)

This is a team that can really leave you scratching your head with the amount of the struggles they’ve had this season. It seemed like the shuffling around between Carruthers and McEwen seemed to be the biggest issue early as their performances at the Slams and the Canada Cup weren’t great.

With McEwen now calling the game and throwing skip stones, things have turned around with wins in Japan and the Golden Wrench Classic in Arizona setting the stage for their Manitoba title. Everything seems to be clicking, but this might be the biggest wild card in the field when it comes to where they finish.

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4) Manitoba (Mike McEwen)

With McEwen set to represent Manitoba in the town that he grew up in, it’s anyone guess as to where they finish. If they all click, they can match wits with the big three, but that’s been a rare occurrence this year. I think they can make the playoffs, but they can’t afford to have any bad games.

5) Saskatchewan (Nutana Curling Club – Saskatoon)

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Skip – Kirk Muyers, Vice – Kevin Marsh, Second –  Daniel Marsh, Lead – Dallan Muyers

Overall Season Record: 43-27

Grand Slam Record: 9-6 (Champion, DNQ, DNQ)

Here is an example of a team that’s climbed up the ranks and won when it mattered the most. After Matt Dunstone and Steve Laycock joined new rinks, Kirk Muyers became a skip as he brought along his brother Dallan and the Marsh Twins. They got better as the year went on, which was highlighted with a perfect week at the Tier II Tour Challenge in Thunder Bay and a provincial final win over Dunstone.

Muyers has plenty of experience with his trip to the Briers with Laycock, but to make it to the event as a skip for the first time is a great accomplishment. It might be tough to get in the playoffs, but he could reach the final four with an upset or two.

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5) British Columbia (Jim Cotter)

You know how everyone talks about how Krista McCarville always contends at the Scotties despite playing in a couple of tour events all year? Well here’s the men’s version of that. Sure, Johnny Mo isn’t there anymore, but getting Steve Laycock is a huge boost for the lineup and I think they are a threat to sneak into the playoffs.

6) British Columbia (Kelowna and Vernon Curling Clubs)

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Skip – “Jimmmmmmmmmmmmm” Cotter, Vice – Steve Laycock, Second – Tyrell Griffith, Lead – Rick Sawatsky

Overall Season Record: 25-8

Grand Slam Record: N/A

This is a team I feel like no one has been talking about, especially with the player who came over from Saskatchewan. Jim Cotter has been down this road before, however it has been documented that his record as a skip in the Brier has not been very good.

I feel like this could be his time though with the addition of Steve Laycock, only this time unlike the John Morris years it will be Cotter running the show. I believe Jim will have his best showing as a skip this week, but I think he’ll just miss out on the playoffs.

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6) Ontario (Scott McDonald)

This is easily the biggest question mark in the field for me. Yes they’ve started to make strides on the tour and have made a couple of slams, but I don’t think anyone expected them to run the table in Ontario. I think it will be a good week for the team, but a playoff run in their first trip to the Brier might be too much to ask. Granted, I thought the same thing about Robyn Silvernagle at the Scotties.

7) Ontario (Cataraqui Golf & Country Club – Kingston)

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Skip – Scott McDonald, Vice – Jonathan Beuk, Second – Wesley Forget, Lead – Scott Chadwick

Overall Season Record: 54-26

Grand Slam Record: 8-7 (Runner-Up, DNQ, DNQ)

The break out team of the year by a mile on the men’s circuit, McDonald also pulled off the biggest surprise of the provincials by running the tale in Ontario and beat John Epping three times. There could be a chance McDonald continues his run of form with how this field shakes out, but the Brier is a much different beast than anything else he’s been to. The championship pool might be as a far as he goes.

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7) Saskatchewan (Kirk Muyers)

Our thoughts on Ontario can also be included for my expectations on this Saskatoon rink. Brett’s probably a little more higher on them than I am, and I do like a lot of the talent they have, but I’m not sure how they will fare in their first trip together to the Brier. We’ll see how things go, but they could go either way in the final standings.

8) Quebec (Club de Curling Etchemin – Saint-Romuald)

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Skip – Martin Crete, Vice – Philippe Lemay, Second – Eric Sylvain, Lead – Phillipe Menard

Overall Season Record: 27-14

Grand Slam Record: N/A

There was a chance of a major change in Quebec with Jean-Michel Menard stepping back from the scene, but the rest of the rink stuck together with Martin Crete becoming a skip for the first time since his junior days. I’m not sure how he will fare in his first Brier in that role, but this team has a lot of experience and I think they can be a thorn in the top rinks sides all week.

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8) Quebec (Martin Crete)

With the amount of major event experience they have, Crete’s rink should be in the mix for the championship pool and will probably pull off a surprise or two. The skip will also win the Russ Howard Award for biggest yeller in the field, but you knew that already.

9) New Brunswick (Curl Moncton)

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Skip – Terry Odishaw, Vice – Jordan Pinder, Second – Marc LeCocq, Lead – Grant Odishaw

Overall Season Record: 9-2

Grand Slam Record: N/A

Terry Odishaw returns to the Brier for the first time since 2012 in Saskatoon, where they finished at 5-6 and could have made the playoffs. He’s brought in Jordan Pinder, who played with Jamie Murphy years ago, along with another veteran in Marc LeCocq. The experience factor should help, but I can’t seem them making the Championship Pool.

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9) Northwest Territories (Jamie Koe)

Our hero is back at the Brier with a very young lineup. I’m not sure if that’s a result of what happened in Red Deer, but that’s another story. Given some of the teams that are here, I think he might sneak into the Championship Pool with a couple of big wins. That or he continues to lead the way at the #patch as God intended.

10) Nova Scotia (Dartmouth Curling Club)

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Skip – Stuart Thompson, Vice – Colten Steele, Second – Travis Colter, Lead – Taylor Ardiel

Overall Season Record: 29-19

Grand Slam Record: N/A

A bronze medalist at the Canadian Juniors in 2013, Stuart Thompson gets his first shot at the Brier, but it could be a bit of a challenge. Although he has played against a few of the big guns and had a runner-up finish at the Stu Sells Toronto event earlier this season (where he lost to Reid Carruthers), I’m not expecting much from Nova Scotia this year.

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10) New Brunswick (Terry Odishaw)

I had completely forgot about the fact that Odishaw was in the mix with Gushue, Jacobs and Jamie Koe for a playoff spot in Saskatoon a few years ago, so maybe he can be in the mix once again in Brandon. Okay, that might be a bit far fetched, but a Championship Pool run could happen with an upset or two.

11) Northwest Territories (Yellowknife Curling Centre)

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Skip – Jamie “Patch” Koe, Vice – David Aho, Second – Matt Ng, Lead – Cole Parsons

Overall Season Record: 5-3

Grand Slam Record: N/A

Although Jamie’s now with a younger team than in years past, it might be a blessing in disguise for the region. Not only is there a former Canadian Junior player in David Aho, but playing with a skip with a ton of experience could allow this young squad to earn better results in the future. That, or Jamie will cause chaos at the #patch like he usually does.

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11) Prince Edward Island (John Likely)

Now here’s a blast from the past. Having the younger players like Carmody and Doherty should help, but if you had told me John Likely was going to be at the Brier in 2019 I wouldn’t believe it. Who’s next? Glen Goss?

12) Prince Edward Island (Western Community Curling Club (Alberton) and Charlottetown Curling Complex)

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Skip – John Likely, Vice – Anson Carmody, Second – Steve Burgess, Lead – Robbie Doherty

Overall Season Record: 7-1

Grand Slam Record: N/A

John Likely will be making his first Brier appearance since 2002 and he has a decent lineup with two players who have made recent trips to the Brier in Carmody and Doherty. There is some potential for a decent showing and a 3-4 record in Pool Play is possible, but that’s all I can see them doing.

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12) Nova Scotia (Stuart Thompson)

I don’t think a Jamie Murphy like run is in the cards this week, but I feel like Thompson should still have an okay event, even though I have him lower in the standings than Brett does. This should bode well for Nova Scotia though with two legit provincial threats for the first time since the Dacey/Adams days. Well minus the whole facing the Ferbey Four in the finals thing.

13) Newfoundland & Labrador (Re/Max Centre – St. John’s)

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Skip – Andrew Symonds, Vice – Chris Ford, Second – Adam Boland, Lead – Keith Jewer

Overall Season Record: 8-7

Grand Slam Record: N/A

With Brad Gushue once again being Team Canada, the number of teams in the Newfoundland provincials went up dramatically and we have another new rink coming to the Brier. Not a lot is known about Symonds, but former U Sports champion Adam Boland is at second, so it might be possible for them to do better than Greg Smith did a year ago.

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13) Yukon (Jon Solberg)

Naturally, we all want Thomas Scoffin here, but Solberg and vice Bob Smallwood have experience at the Brier and I think they can do okay. Sure they won’t be a playoff threat, but I think they’ll do well enough to avoid being at the end of the pack.

14) Yukon (Whitehorse Curling Club)

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Skip – Jon Solberg, Vice – Bob Smallwood, Second – Clinton Abel, Lead – Scott Odian

Overall Season Record: 4-1

Grand Slam Record: N/A

This is basically the same team that came to the Brier in 2016 in Ottawa, only to miss out on qualifying from the Play-In games. The one change is that Solberg is now the skip with Smallwood moving to vice, but don’t expect much in terms of results.

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14) Newfoundland & Labrador (Andrew Symonds)

Symonds has nationals experience at the Travelers Club Championship and Boland is a young talent on the rise, but it’s hard to see this rink doing much. I’m sure they’ll be hoping Gushue wins a third straight title though, as it’s hard to get out of Newfoundland when he’s in the provincial mix.

15) Nunavut (Iqaluit Curling Club)

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Skip – Dave St. Louis, Vice – Peter Mackey, Second – Jeff Nadeau, Lead – Lloyd Kendall

Overall Season Record: N/A

Grand Slam Record: N/A

Dave St. Louis’ first full run at the Brier had two okay games, but the rest of his games were blowout losses. He almost beat the Yukon in his placement pool game last year in Regina, so maybe will see some improvement this time around.

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15) Nunavut (Dave St. Louis)

I think the overall goal for this rink should be the same as what the women’s squad did at the Scotties last week. They were competitive in their pool and also pulled off an upset by defeating Quebec. For this territory, a year-to-year improvement is the biggest thing for them at this point in time.

Wild Card Game Rinks

Wild Card Team #1 – John Epping (Leaside Curling Club – Toronto, Ontario)

Home Hardware Canada Cup 2018TEAM EPPING Leaside Curling Club, Toronto Skip: John Epping Third: Mathew Camm Second: Brent Laing Lead: Craig Savill .   Curling Canada/ michael burns photo

Skip – “Big” John Epping, Vice – Matt Camm, Second – Brent Laing “Lainger”, Lead – Craig Savill

Overall Season Record: 49-29

Grand Slam Record: 16-13 (Semi-Finalist, Champion, DNQ, DNQ, Runner-Up)

It’s been an up and down season for Epping, though that seems like it’s been the case most years. He does have a much better lineup with the return of the Savill and Laing at the front end, so he should be a threat to win if he wins this game. Depending on what Epping shows up, they could finish anywhere from third to fifth. With that said, it would be great to see Savill play at the Brier again after he battled cancer in 2016.

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Epping finally broke through to the Brier as a skip last year in Regina and was a threat to win it all, so it was a bit of a surprise to see him get beat three straight times by Scott McDonald in the Ontario playdowns. However, with a bronze medal a year ago and a strong team around him, Epping can be in the mix once again if he win the Wild Card game. At this point, I’d probably have him in the third to fifth place mix with Koe and McEwen.

Wild Card Team #2 – Brendan Bottcher (Saville Community Sports Centre – Edmonton)

Home Hardware Canada Cup 2018,TEAM BOTTCHER Saville Community Sports Centre, Edmonton Skip: Brendan Bottcher Third: Darren Moulding Second: Brad Thiessen Lead: Karrick Martin .  Curling Canada/ michael burns photo

Skip – Brendan Bottcher, Vice – Darren Moulding, Second – Brad Theissen, Lead – Karrick “The Jackhammer” Martin

Overall Season Record: 44-14

Grand Slam Record: 11-2 (Runner-Up,Champion)

This is a little bit of a surprise to see last year’s Brier runner-up in this situation, considering he seemed to be having an even better season than he did in 2018 as he won his first ever Grand Slam event in January. Then again, the Alberta provincial seemed to be tough for him as he lost twice to Ted Appleman and then was knocked off by Kevin Koe in the semifinal.

Of the two teams in this game, Bottcher would probably be the favourite to win and he would easily become a title threat. At the moment, I would probably have in the second to fourth place range if he beats Epping.

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Bottcher would easily be in the mix with Gushue and Jacobs in my rankings if he had won the provincials, and I’d have him in third place easily if he beats Epping in the Wild Card game. The rink has been playing well all year long and I feel like they should beat Epping if they are on their game. Then again, I thought Kerri Einarson would win her Wild Card game last week and look where that got me.

 

 

 

 

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The Punkari Brothers 2019 Scotties Review

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Written by Brett Punkari (With cameos by Lucas Punkari)

The 2019 Scotties Tournament Of Hearts will go down for a number of reasons. It features one of the most chaotic round-robins in years and also history made for mostly the wrong reasons. However, there were a couple of good history making moments as well.

Champions – Alberta (Chelsea Carey)

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The team that looked to be the class of the field early on did have a few bumps along the way when the championship pool came around. Then it was a topsy-turvy playoff round as Carey came out flat against Saskatchewan, but clutch shots in the fifth and seventh ends would prove to be the turning point.

That slow start in the semi would be even worse in the final as she was down 5-1 after four ends and looked to be left for dead. However, some misses along the way for Ontario allowed Carey to claw back as she was able to capture her second Scotties title in one of the most improbable comebacks in the event’s history. This marks the first time that Pooks and Fergie (aka Rachelle Brown and Dana Ferguson) have won a title after losing back-to-back finals with Val Sweeting in 2014 and 2015, and it’s also the first Scotties win for Sarah Wilkes in just her second trip to the event.

Now Carey has a chance to avenge her dissapointing result at the Worlds in 2016, where she lost in the bronze medal game to Russia. This also means we could have a Pooks and Fergie Dance Party in Denmark…Oh boy.

Sure, Carey didn’t play great in the final and benefited from an incredible collapse by Rachel Homan, but she was solid all week long and deserves to be up their with the top skips in her era now after a second national title. Obviously I’m thrilled that Pooks and Fergie have won a title as well, as they are complete nut cases (in a good way of course) and it’s not hard not to root for them.

It’s hard to bet against Anna Hasselborg and her rink at the Worlds, but Carey should be in the mix in Denmark, especially with a field that’s pretty top-heavy. However, we’ll get to that in a few weeks.

Team Percentages

Lead – Rachelle Brown -80% – Tied for 9th
Second – Dana Ferguson -82% – 5th
Vice – Sarah Wilkes – 82% – Tied for 2nd
Skip – Chelsea Carey – 81% – 3rd
Team – Alberta – 81% – 3rd

Runner-Up – Ontario (Rachel Homan)

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Dear God. Just when we think Rachel Homan is back in the groove after winning three slams in a row, she goes out and pulls one of the biggest tire fires in her career.

Now granted she had to come through the 3 vs. 4 game after losing to Saskatchewan in her last round-robin game, but it looked like Homan and crew had another gear in them after controlling things against Northern Ontario and a good showing against Saskatchewan, although they did give up a three-ender late.

Seemingly in complete control with a 5-1 lead after four ends, a couple of misses in the sixth and seventh ends allowed Carey to close in and set the stage for Rachel’s two light draws in the final two ends. After a tough loss like this one, it’s going to be really interesting to see how this team bounces back. Also, if anyone still thinks they are ahead of Anna Hasselborg as the best team in the world, well your crazy.

Simply put, this was the biggest tire fire of Homan’s career and it’s not even close. Granted, the 2016 provincial final loss to Jenn Hanna is an all-time stunner and last year’s Olympics was a mess from top to bottom, but to lose a Scotties final that should never have been close to begin with has top the lot. I’ve watched this game three times now and it still boggles the mind.

It’s a shame to because this was a pretty darn good week from the Homan crew, especially after their strong showings at the slams. They should recover, but it’s hard to see them being feared anymore after what’s happened as of late.

Team Percentages

Lead – Lisa Weagle – 85% – Tied for 3rd
Second – Joanne Courtney – 83% – Tied for 1st
Vice – Emma Miskew – 84% – 1st
Skip – Rachel Homan – 84% – 1st
Team – Ontario – 84% – Tied for 1st

Bronze Medalist/Biggest Surprise – Saskatchewan (Robyn Silvernagle)

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After two gut-wrenching losses in the provincial final in Saskatchewan, Robyn Silvernagle finally broke through the door and took full advantage of her first Scotties appearance.

Although one bad shot in the seventh end of the 1 vs. 2 game against Chelsea Carey and one bad end in the semi-final against Rachel Homan spelled her demise, it was a still a pretty impressive rink for a team that had three members making their first trip to the Scotties. Not only has Silvernagle broken through on the national stage, but Stefanie Lawton is finally on the podium and has earned a medal at the Scotties, which is great to see.

Coming into the week, I really wasn’t sure what was in store for Robyn’s rink, especially since it’s very rare for a first-time team to succeed at the Scotties. Well not only did they become one of the most consistent teams in the field, but Silvernagle was pretty darn close to being the first skip since Allison Goring in 1990 to capture a national title in her first trip to the event.

With more slams on the horizon, I wouldn’t be shocked if Silvernagle not only becomes one of the favourites at major events over the next year, in addition to being a legit contender at the 2021 Olympics Trials in Saskatoon.

Team Percentages

Lead – Kara Thevenot – 83% – Tied for 6th
Second – Jesse Hunkin – 78% – 8th
Vice – Stefanie Lawton – 82% – Tied for 2nd
Skip – Robyn Silvernagle – 80% – 4th
Team – Saskatchewan – 81% – Tied for 3rd

Fourth Place – Northern Ontario (Krista McCarville)

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Boy does this sound like a broken record. Although the team’s numbers this year were similar to their silver medal run in 2016 and three of the team’s four players won all-star awards, it just felt like McCarville had to go full magician mode on a number of occasions to save the team when they were in trouble.

The best example of this came in pool play against Manitoba, as McCarville made a ridiculous corner freeze against four on a shot that proved to be the turning point. The one major positive though was the fact that the team led the pack with 21 stolen ends this week, so maybe they are better off without the hammer.

Although they don’t play on the tour a lot, which is something everyone seemingly wants to change (well maybe fix your ranking systems), McCarville is always a threat to win. Given the fact that Northern Ontario isn’t great shakes at the moment, we can expect the Thunder Bay rink to be back again in 2020 in Moose Jaw.

I wonder though if Jen Gates will still be there ahead of Ashley Sippala as the longtime second wasn’t there this year due to having a kid. If she returns, maybe will have the long-awaited Gates sisters power hour as Jen plays with everyone’s favourite lead Amanda. Let me dream.

Team Percentages

Lead – Sarah Potts – 88% – 2nd
Second – Jen Gates – 82% – Tied For 2nd
Vice – Kendra Lilly – 80% – Tied For 2nd
Skip – Krista McCarville – 82% – 2nd
Team – Northern Ontario – 84% – Tied for 1st

Biggest Disappointment – Manitoba Curling

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Where do we even start? For a province that we had labeled as the province of death coming into the season, we never expected to see all three teams not even be a factor for the title when the playoffs got underway.

We begin with Team Canada, as Jennifer Jones ended up missing the playoffs for the first time ever at the Scotties. It was pretty much a struggle all week with shot making and ice reading for Jennifer and they couldn’t seem to make anything work, with the biggest blow coming against Northern Ontario as Jen’s draw to force an extra end didn’t even make the rings. At least Dawn McEwen had another typical Dawn McEwen week.

At one point in the round-robin, Jones felt like the team was playing pretty well, but the scorelines and the percentages made that statement a bit perplexing. We should remember that this is the first year with Jocelyn Peterman replacing Jill Officer so there’s going to be some adjustments, but to see where Jones and Kaitlyn Lawes ended up in the final stats is really shocking.

As Brett said, Jones’ loss to Northern Ontario was a stunner on a pretty easy shot, but it was that kind of week for here. In an unrelated story, Dawn McEwen is good at curling.

Team Percentages

Lead – Dawn McEwen – 89% – 1st
Second – Jocelyn Peterman – 81% – Tied for 5th
Vice – Kaitlyn Lawes – 78% – 8th
Skip – Jennifer Jones – 73% – 9th
Team – Canada – 80% – Tied for 6th

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The first surprise of the round-robin came when Tracy Fleury’s first run as the skip for Manitoba ended much earlier than we expected. After losing her first two games to Alberta and British Columbia, Fleury got on a roll and even beat Rachel Homan. However, her draw weight basically escaped in the round-robin finale against Northern Ontario and those same issues proved costly in the tiebreaker against Sarah Wark. As a result, this marked the first time that the Manitoba champion had failed to make the playoffs since Cathy Overton-Clapham had that happen to her in 2011.

Boy it’s strange seeing Tracey in Manitoba colours. I don’t think this rink played that badly during the week, but I don’t think they ever really upped their level of play a whole lot, especially in those big games at the end of pool play. I think they should still be in the mix for the next couple of years, but the road out of Manitoba is about to get much tougher.

Team Percentages

Lead – Kristin MacCuish – 81% – 8th
Second – Liz Fyfe – 83% – Tied for 2nd
Vice – Selena Njegovan – 82% – Tied for 3rd
Skip – Tracy Fleury – 78% – 5th
Team – Manitoba – 81% – Tied for 3rd

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Then we have Kerri Einarson, as the team that dominated the first half of the season failed to win the Wild Card game against Casey Scheidgger in a match that saw Einarson and third Val Sweeting struggle a bit.

Obviously this is a major disappointment when you consider how good this rink was at the start of the year, but it also means that the 2020 Manitoba provincials are going to be completely chaotic with the three rinks we’ve mentioned now in the mix, along with Allison Flaxey. Darcy Robertson would have been included in this group as well, but her team has announced that they will be splitting up at the year’s end.

No Shannon “Smoke Show” Birchard at the Scotties was the biggest tragedy of the whole week. In all seriousness, it’s pretty crazy to think that the Einarson rink didn’t even get into the dance at the Scotties, especially when you look back on them getting a five-ender against Fleury in the second end of the provincial final. Curling sure is a strange game.

Brett’s already mentioned how crazy the Manitoba provincials can be, but I’m really curious to see how these teams play on the tour. Einarson’s play will be the most intriguing (well not counting Rachel Homan because reasons) as she had two rough outings in her biggest games of the year.

Also, if it wasn’t for the Manitoba rinks woes, Casey Scheidegger might be my pick for the biggest disappointment as she missed the playoffs for the second straight Scotties after a strong result in pool play. Hopefully this doesn’t become a trend.

Award Winners

First Team All-Stars

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Lead – Dawn McEwen – Team Canada
Second – Jen Gates – Northern Ontario
Vice – Emma Miskew – Ontario
Skip – Rachel Homan – Ontario

Second Team All-Stars

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Lead – Sarah Potts – Northern Ontario
Second – Joanne Courtney – Ontario
Vice – Kendra Lilly – Northern Ontario
Skip – Krista McCarville – Northern Ontario

Marj Mitchell Sportsmanship Award

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Sarah Potts – Northern Ontario

Sandra Schmirler MVP Award

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Chelsea Carey – Alberta

The Punkari Brothers Shots of the Week

Lucas: Tracy Fleury’s angle run back for two against Alberta in Draw 1

Brett: Krista McCarville’s game-saving draw against Manitoba in Draw 13

 


The Punkari Brothers 2019 Scotties Preview

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Written by Brett Punkari (With Cameos by Lucas Punkari)

Well it’s time again to crown Canada’s curling champions, and as always, we’re starting with the Scotties Tournament Of Hearts. The field is an interesting one as there’s a mix of the top teams in Canada, plus some good mid-level squads that are battling it out to make the championship pool.

This year’s predictions will be the same as before as we rank the top 15 teams and do a separate one for the two teams battling it out for the Wild Card spot. In addition to giving out each team’s Grand Slam record, I’ve also included their overall season records, which will be more of an indicator of how certain rinks have done if they’ve only been to a couple of slams or none at all.

Let’s start things off by looking at each of the Pools for the round-robin, which runs from Saturday until Wednesday.

Pool A

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • Northern Ontario
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Quebec

Pool B

  • Canada
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Saskatchewan
  • Wild Card
  • Yukon

1) Team Canada (St. Vital Curling Club – Winnipeg)

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Skip – “J.J” Jennifer Jones, Vice – Kaitlyn Lawes, Second – Jocelyn Peterman, Lead – Dawn “The Mongoose” McEwen

Overall Season Record: 39-21

Grand Slam Record: 16-10 (Semi-Finalist, Quarter-Finalist, Quarter-Finalist, Semi-Finalist, DNQ)

For the first time since 2011 Jennifer Jones enters the Scotties with a lineup change as Jocelyn Peterman comes in to replace Jill Officer who has decided to step back from the competitive season. So far Jones has had some good performances but only has one win to show for it, though it was a big one as she took home the Canada Cup in Estevan.

I feel like Jones is just a bit off this season, though that might be just due to her getting used to being with Peterman after playing with Officer for so long. With that said, I think it would be foolish not to pick her at the Scotties.

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1) Ontario (Rachel Homan)

Welp, I’m already disagreeing with Brett. With how strong Homan has been on the Grand Slam circuit as of late, it’s hard not to pick her to win her fourth Scotties title this decade. However, the absolute train wreck that was the Olympics is still in the back of my head, along with some tire fire showings at the Canada Cup. If Rachel can win this week, a lot of those questions will disappear. Well at least until the Worlds and Anna Hasselborg shows up.

2) Ontario (Ottawa Curling Club)

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Skip – Rachel Homan “Destroyer”, Vice – “A Miscue By” Emma Miskew, Second – Joanne “Frizz” Courtney, Lead – Lisa “Da” Weagle

Overall Season Record: 50-13

Grand Slam Record: 27-6 (Semi-Finalist, Runner-Up, Champion, Champion, Champion)

After the debacle that was the 2018 Olympics, Rachel Homan is having a season that is almost similar to her dominance from the 2015-16 campaign, except for the fact that she didn’t lose to Jenn Hanna at the provincials like she did three years ago.

With that said, the threat of a tire fire performance still lingers and Homan’s draw weight has been hit or miss on a few occasions this year. However, the roll this team is on with three straight wins on the Slam circuit has to be scary for everyone in this field. I might be crazy for picking Homan to be second, but don’t be surprised if she goes on an absolute tear and stomps on everyone.

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2) Team Canada (Jennifer Jones)

Sure it hasn’t been a banner year for the six-time champion, but how often have we said that and been proven wrong once the Scotties get underway. Jones has a chance to pass Colleen Jones and become the most successful skip in event history with a win this week, and I think she has a darn good shot with how well she played in the playoff round at the Canada Cup. With that said, the big x-factor for me will be how well Jocelyn Peterman fares in replacing Jill Officer in the lineup.

3) Manitoba (East St. Paul Curling Club)

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Skip – Tracy Fleury, Vice – Selena Njegovan, Second – Liz Fyfe “And Her Hair”, Lead – Kristin MacCuish

Overall Season Record: 39-26

Grand Slam Record: 13-11 (DNQ, Quarter-Finalist, Runner-Up, DNQ, DNQ)

Tracy Fleury made a decision to move from Northern Ontario and leave her long-time rink in Sudbury to take over the reigns of the old Kerri Einarson squad. After getting off to a bit of a slow start, things have picked up as of late, especially after she beat Einarson in a wild Manitoba provincial final.

I personally think of the other contenders in this field, excluding the Wild Card competitors of course, this rink seems to be one of the more consistent of the bunch. After all, this is the squad who finished runner-up last year after making it out of the Wild Card game.

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3) Alberta (Chelsea Carey)

Having lost the Wild Card game a year ago, which came shortly after she fell to Rachel Homan in the Olympic Trials final, I’m sure Carey is eager to have a great showing on the national stage again. With how well Homan and Jones have played this season, it’s tricky to have her in the final. However, with a pretty good team around her, I wouldn’t be shocked if she matches her 2016 showing.

4) Alberta (The Glencoe Club – Calgary)

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Skip – Chelsea “The Annihilator” Carey, Vice – Sarah Wilkes “Warriors”, Second – “Fergielicious” Dana Ferguson, Lead – “Pooks” Rachelle Brown

Overall Season Record: 31-27

Grand Slam Record: 10-15 (DNQ, Semi-Finalist, DNQ, DNQ, Quarter-Finalist)

This season has been full of ups and downs for Chelsea Carey, who spent a good chunk of the year with a different lineup as lead Rachelle Brown was out of action for most of the first half after having a kid. As a result, her performances were all over the place, though she did have a win early in the campaign.

With Brown’s return, the squad has some stability with everyone back together again. Although Wilkes is a very solid player, Pooks and Fergie aren’t quite the best shooters and they are going to have to knock off one of the big guns in their group in order to give Carey a chance for a second title. Mind you, that will depend on who the Wild Card team is. At any rate, there’s a potential for some more Pooks and Fergie dance parties.

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4) Manitoba (Tracy Fleury)

After winning one of the wildest provincial finals in years, it’s safe to say this rink is coming into the Scotties with a ton of momentum. Although Tracy has a heck of a squad in front of her, especially since they almost won it all last year, for me it really depends on how well she plays this week. If she’s on her game, they have a shot at winning it. If she’s off, a trip to the 3 vs. 4 game might be as far as this rink goes. Either way, I miss Amanda Gates already.

5) Northern Ontario (Fort William Curling Club – Thunder Bay)

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Skip – Krista McCarville, Vice – Kendra Lilly, Second – “Jenny” Jen Gates, Lead – Sarah Potts

Overall Season Record: 23-6

Grand Slam Record: 1-3 (DNQ)

Krista McCarville returns to the Scotties for the third time in the Northern Ontario era, and she’s brought in a strong new addition to the lineup in Jen Gates as Ashley Sippala is expecting a child and is unable to take part in this year’s Scotties.

This season has been a bit of a strange one for the Thunder Bay rink, as they’ll either run the table to win a bonspiel or they end up going 1-3. If McCarville is going to make the playoffs once again, she’ll need the rest of the team to play well in front of her and not make her go full magician mode like she’s done in the past. With that said, this a team that you shouldn’t count out.

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5) Northern Ontario (Krista McCarville)

Always a threat at this event, McCarville’s rink should once again be in the mix, especially with Jen Gates joining at second this year. Due to the fact that they aren’t on the tour all that often, they get overlooked when it comes to the title contenders. However, the Thunder Bay rink never has a bad week at the Scotties and it should be more of the same this year.

6) Saskatchewan (Twin Rivers Curling Club – North Battleford)

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Skip – Robyn Silvernagle, Vice – Stefanie Lawton, Second – Jesse Hunkin, Lead – Kara Thevenot

Overall Season Record: 44-17

Grand Slam Record: 3-2 (Quarter-Finalist)

After two straight gut wrenching losses in the provincial finals, Robyn Silvernagle has finally broken through to make her first Scotties appearance. She’s brought in multi-time Saskatchewan champion Stefanie Lawton, who has a lot of experience at the Scotties,  and she also had a strong showing at the last slam where she made the quarter-finals. Now the Scotties are a totally different beast compared to the World Curling Tour and the Grand Slams, but Silvernagle should safely be in the Championship Pool as she’s in what looks to be the weaker of the two round-robin pools.

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6) Saskatchewan (Robyn Silvernagle)

The best skip yet to make it to the national stage has finally made it to the Scotties after a number of strong seasons. The additions of Lawton and Hunkin have made this rink one to watch for over the next couple of years, and they might even make some noise this week, though it’s always tough for a skip to win it all in that first trip to the nationals. In an unrelated note, is Kelsey Rocque or Laura Crocker now the best skip yet to make it to the Scotties? Discuss.

7) Nova Scotia (Mayflower Curling Club – Halifax)

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Skip – Jill Brothers, Vice – Erin “68 Comeback Special” Carmody, Second – Sarah Murphy, Lead – Jenn Brine

Overall Season Record: 16-5

Grand Slam Record: N/A

Jill Brothers is back at the Scotties after going 6-5 in 2016 and this year also sees the return of a player who was part of Prince Edward Island’s insane 2010 playoff run in Erin Carmody, who has shuffled provinces and teams to try and get back to the Scotties since then.

I don’t know if Brothers will be capable of achieving the playoff performance that Mary-Anne Arsenault did last year but it is a possibility, although she’s what appears to be the tougher pool this week.

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7) Nova Scotia (Jill Brothers)

After stealing two points in the final end to defeat Mary-Anne Arsenault, Brothers will get to chance to represent the Bluenosers at home. It’s hard to see her matching Arsenault’s third place finish in 2018, but she should still have a really solid week. Plus, it’s great to see Erin Carmody return for the first time in nine years. Where you at Geri-Lynn Ramsay?

8) Northwest Territories (Yellowknife Curling Centre)

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Skip – Kerry Galusha, Vice – Sarah Koltun, Second – Brittany Tran, Lead – Shona Barbour

Overall Season Record: 20-12

Grand Slam Record: N/A

Kerry Galusha might have one of her best teams ever now after acquiring former Canadian Junior champion Brittany Tran and her performances speak for themselves this year as she’s won an event and has posted a winning record heading into the Scotties. Galusha is always a tricky opponent for anyone to play against and is always capable of pulling off an upset. When you combine that with being in the weaker pool this week, she’s got a really good shot of making the championship pool.

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8) Northwest Territories (Kerry Galusha)

After she went 5-6 at the 2017 Scotties in St. Catherines, Brett and I felt that Galusha would be a sleeper pick at last year’s event in Penticton, especially with Sarah Koltun joining the squad. Things obviously didn’t turn out that way, but I fully expect Galusha to be in the mix for a championship pool spot this week, especially with Tran joining the lineup.

9) Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown Curling Club)

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Skip – Suzanne Birt, Vice – Marie Christanson, Second – Meaghan Hughes, Lead – Michelle McQuaid

Overall Season Record: 30-11

Grand Slam Record: N/A

Suzanne Birt returns for her 10th Scotties appearance and has taken over the old Robyn MacPhee in an attempt to try and reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007. That’s probably a tough task, but Birt has the experience and the squad is fairly solid, so she stand a good chance of sneaking into the championship pool.

Team Prince Edward Island skip Suzanne Birt in draw fourteen action at the Scotties 2015

9) Prince Edward Island (Suzanne Birt)

Back in 2015, which was her second last trip to the Scotties prior this week, Birt actually played pretty well despite having a 4-7 record. If she plays like she did then and has some luck on her side, I can see her making the championship pool. Anything besides that would be a huge surprise.

10) New Brunswick (Thistle-St. Andrew’s Curling Club – Saint John)

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Skip – Andrea Crawford, Vice – Jillian Babin, Second – Jennifer Armstrong, Lead – Katie Forward

Overall Season Record: 21-9

Grand Slam Record: N/A

Speaking of skips making a return to the Scotties, Andrea Crawford is back for the first time since 2014. Prior to her having a brief run with Val Sweeting and spending time in Germany with former world champion Andrea Schopp, Crawford was someone who seemed to be on the cusp of being a playoff contender. A lot has changed since then and she has a lot of experience at this event, but I can’t see her making the championship pool.

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10) New Brunswick (Andrea Crawford)

This is one of those rinks that could finish anywhere from the middle of the pack to well out of the playoff pictures. As Brett said, Crawford was close to making the playoffs in her last two trips to the Scotties with back-to-back 6-5 records, but I really have no idea how she’s going to fair in 2019. Just put my Suzanne Birt write-up in here and reword it a bit.

11) British Columbia (Abbotsford Curling Club)

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Skip – Sarah Wark, Vice – Kristen Pilote, Second – Carley Sandwith, Lead – Jen Rusnell

Overall Season Record: 28-12

Grand Slam Record: N/A

Sarah Wark, who has been in the Canadian Juniors and the Canadian Mixed Championship in the past, will now get her first crack at the Scotties and it could be a rough one as she is in the much tougher Pool A. She does have Carley Sandwith on the team, who has been in the Scotties before as the lead for Kesa Van Osch in 2014, but I can’t see things going too well for Wark.

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11) British Columbia (Sarah Wark)

It’s nice to see Sarah finally make it to the Scotties after being in the mix out west for a number of years, and the experience of being at other national championships should be a major help this week. She might pull off an upset or two, but that’s about it.

12) Quebec (Club de Curling Victoria, Jacques-Cartier and Etchemin – Sainte-Foy, Sillery and Saint-Romuald)

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Skip – Gabrielle Lavoie, Vice – Patricia Boudreaut, Second – Anna Munroe, Lead – Julia Daigle

Overall Season Record: 6-3
Grand Slam Record: N/A

For the second year in a row a team that was originally trying to make the Canadian Juniors will instead head off to the Scotties, with defending Quebec champion Emilia Gagne ending up on the outside looking in after the final. Like last year, the Lavoie rink will look to gain some experience this week towards making future trips to national events, though they will eventually have to deal with Laurie St-Georges.

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12) Newfoundland & Labrador (Kelli Sharpe)

Hey I finally have a different pick than Brett again. Granted, this is nowhere near where Stacie Curtis would have been if she was still around, but I feel like this is a good spot to put Newfoundland in this field. They won’t be a contender, but I don’t think they’ll struggle that badly.

13) Newfoundland & Labrador (Re/Max Centre – St. John’s)

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Skip – Kelli Sharpe, Vice – Stephanie Guzzwell, Second – Beth Hamilton, Lead(s) – Carrie Vatour and Michelle Jewer

Overall Season Record: 5-1

Grand Slam Record: N/A

So we have a brand new team representing Newfoundland this year and I think the odds are definitely against Kelli Sharpe. The only player with any experience is Carrie Vatour, who was with Stacie Curtis last year, so it appears that it’s going to be a major struggle for the region.

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13) Quebec (Gabrielle Lavoie)

If Laurie St-Georges wasn’t busy competing for her province at the Canadian Juniors over the last couple of years, she probably would be at the Scotties by now and may have put together a solid week. As for everyone else? Well you get to enjoy being at the Scotties I guess.

14) Yukon (Whitehorse Curling Club)

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Skip – Nicole Baldwin, Vice – Hailey Brinie, Second – Ladene Shaw, Lead – Helen Strong

Overall Season Record: N/A

Grand Slam Record: N/A

Back in 2016, Baldwin took part in the old pre-qualifying event and posted a 1-2 record, but she was unable to make it in the play-in game that featured Karla Thompson and Kerry Galusha. Now that she’s back and gets to play in the actual event, this should bode well for her as she tries to gain more experience.

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14) Yukon (Nicole Baldwin)

Imagine if Sarah Koltun was still in your region. Anyways, although it’s nice to see Baldwin get the chance to experience the Scotties in full after her trip in 2016 only lasted a couple of days, I suspect it will be a long week for this team.

15) Nunavut (Iqaluit Curling Club)

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Skip – Jenine Bodner, Vice – Jennifer Blaney, Second – Alison Griffin, Lead – Megan Ingram

Overall Season Record: N/A

Grand Slam Record: N/A

We have a new lineup for Nunavut as Jenine Bodner is representing the territory as they look towards developing into a respectable team at te national stage. It’s still a long road for them, but they did have three teams each in the men’s and women’s playdowns, which is progress.

2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts

15) Nunavut (Jenine Bodner)

Bodner was the lead for Nunavut when they made their first trip to the Scotties in 2016, so she has a little bit of experience at the event. With that said, it should be another long week. Hopefully they don’t lose 20-3 like the junior rink did to Nova Scotia at the Canadian Juniors.

Wild Card Game Rinks

Wild Card Team #1 – Kerri Einarson (Gimli Curling Club – Manitoba)

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Skip – Kerri Einarson, Vice – Val Sweeting “Valerie”, Second – Shannon “Smoke Show” Birchard, Lead – Brianne Meilleur

Overall Season Record: 62-21

Grand Slam Record: 12-12 (DNQ, Semi-Finalist, Runner-Up, DNQ)

I don’t think anyone expected this squad to be in the Wild Card game, but I guess this is what happens when you choke away the Manitoba final after uncorking a five-ender in the second end.

Yes we all know how early on in the season they were pummeling everyone into submission, but it seemed like once the slams started the field kind of caught up to them. Should Einarson win the Wild Card game, I expect her to be a title threat and they would easily be a top-three pick for this week. If they don’t win though…oh boy.

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Simply put, if the Einarson rink doesn’t make into the Scotties, they are easily the biggest disappointment of the 2018-19 campaign. With a ton of talent, they cruised the first half of the season and had a runner-up finish at the Canada Cup. Granted, their slam showings weren’t stellar except for one run to the final, but they were still the favourites heading to the provincials.

After that wild loss to Tracy Fleury, I’m not totally sure what to expect from this rink on Friday. If they are on their game, they should easily be a title contender in the main pool. If they lose, it’s going to be a long off-season of wondering what’s next.

Wild Card Team #2 – Casey Scheidegger (Lethbridge Curling Club – Alberta)

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Skip: Casey Scheidegger
Third: Cary-Anne McTaggart
Second: Jessie Haughian
Lead: Kristie Moore .   
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Skip – Casey “Scheidiggitydog” Scheidegger, Vice – Cary-Anne McTaggart, Second – Jessie Haughian, Lead – Kristie Moore

Overall Season Record: 27-26

Grand Slam Record: 10-15 (Quarter-Finalist, Semi-Finalist, DNQ, DNQ, Quarter-Finalist)

This season hasn’t been the best for Casey Scheidegger’s rink, though they did have a semi-final finish at the Grand Slam of Curling’s Masters’ event. The big problem seems to be how the rink closes out 10-end events, as they missed the Canada Cup playoffs after starting 3-1 and lost the A, B and C event finals at the Alberta playdowns. The squad is talented enough to make it to the Scotties and they should be a playoff threat, but I’m not sure if they are good enough to win the whole thing.

Team Alberta skip Casey Scheidegger in the draw one of the champ
Team Alberta skip Casey Scheidegger in the draw one of the championship pool at the 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts

If you remember last year’s Scotties, Scheidegger was 7-1 after pool play and looked to be in good shape to make the playoffs, only to lose three of her four Championship Pool contests. That result, plus the Canada Cup and Alberta provincial finishes, have me a bit hesitant to pick them over Einarson. Granted, Shannon Birchard is on the Einarson rink so I’d probably pick them over anyone.

As for the Scheidegger rink, I’m pretty sure they could make the playoffs if they win the Wild Card game Friday, but I don’t think they are on the same level as Homan and Jones when it comes to title threats. Watch me be proven wrong in this regard in over a week’s time.


The 2018 Bagskate Hockey Podcast Awards Results

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Well we can’t afford Rob Faulds for this production, but it’s time to officially wrap up the 2017-18 junior and college hockey campaign by handing out some hardware with the third edition of the Bagskate Hockey Podcast Awards.

In addition to your votes through the online poll that was up for most of June and my own ballot, let’s meet the rest of this year’s esteemed panel.

  • Andy Eide – Seattle Thunderbirds and WHL beat writer for ESPN 710 in Seattle
  • Brett Punkari – My brother and the lone Kitchener Rangers fan in Sault Ste. Marie
  • Jeremy Fraser – Sports reporter for the Cape Breton Post and beat writer for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
  • Marc Smith – Sports reporter for Golden West Radio and beat writer for the Moose Jaw Warriors
  • Matthew Gourlie – Moose Jaw Warriors beat writer for the Dub Network
  • Michael Oleksyn – Sports reporter for the Melfort Journal and beat writer for the Melfort Mustangs
  • Neate Sager – CHL beat writer for Sportsnet
  • Pete Krupsky – Play-by-play announcer for the US NTDP
  • Phil Heilman – Friend of the show and man about town in the Battlefords
  • Victor Findlay – U Sports beat writer for the Canadian University Sports Network and play-by-play announcer for the University Cup on Sportsnet

As always, a huge thanks to everyone who submitted their ballot for this fun exercise. Now let’s meet this year’s winners.

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Forward of the Year – Tyler Steenbergen (Swift Current Broncos)

As a member of the best line in junior hockey this season with Glenn Gawdin and Aleksi Heponiemi alongside him, Steenbergen came out of the gates firing offence and was scoring goals at an alarming rate. Injuries and time away at the World Juniors meant he only ended up with 47 goals, but he was a threat whenever he stepped on the ice and that was plain to see when the Broncos struggled to score goals after his injury in the Memorial Cup. Plus, his lone goal at the World Juniors was a big one as the Arizona Coyotes prospect scored in the final minutes of the third period to help Canada win the gold medal over Sweden.

  1. Tyler Steenbergen (Swift Current Broncos) – 50 votes
  2. Jayden Halbgewachs (Moose Jaw Warriors) – 49 votes
  3. Andrei Svechnikov (Barrie Colts) – 44 votes
  4. Glenn Gawdin (Swift Current Broncos) – 36 votes
  5. Sam Steel (Regina Pats) – 25 votes
  6. Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) – 24 votes
  7. Aleksi Heponiemi (Swift Current Broncos) – 17 votes)
  8. Ryan Donato (Harvard Crimson) – 16 votes
  9. Alex Barre-Boulet (Blainville-Boisbriand Armada) – 13 votes
  10. Boris Katchouk (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) – 12 votes
  11. Gabriel Vilardi (Kingston Frontenacs) – 12 votes
  12. Adam Gaudette (Northeastern Huskies) – 10 votes
  13. Jack Hughes (US NTDP) – 9 votes
  14. Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting) – 9 votes
  15. Oliver Wahlstrom (US NTDP) – 9 votes
  16. Ty Ronning (Vancouver Giants) – 8 votes
  17. Layne Young (Battlefords North Stars) – 6 votes
  18. Brayden Burke (Moose Jaw Warriors) – 5 votes
  19. Chris Van Os-Shaw (Spruce Grove Saints) – 1 vote

Canada v Sweden: Gold Medal Game - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship

Defenceman of the Year – Rasmus Dahlin (Frolunda)

There’s not much more than can be said about the Swedish sensation. The most hyped defensive prospect since Aaron Ekblad (who was the last blueliner to go first overall in the draft four years ago) Dahlin was impressive all year for his club and his country. As he joins a Buffalo Sabres squad looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011, Dahlin’s future looks bright as makes his way to the NHL. Just how good he’ll end up being remains to be seen.

  1. Rasmus Dahlin (Frolunda) – 90 votes
  2. Noah Dobson (Acadie-Bathurst Titans) – 41 votes
  3. Evan Bouchard (London Knights) – 37 votes
  4. Cale Makar (UMass Minutemen) – 35 votes
  5. Conor Timmins (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) – 25 votes
  6. Cal Foote (Kelowna Rockets) – 21 votes
  7. Josh McDougall (Nipawin Hawks) – 18 votes
  8. Nicolas Hague (Mississauga Steelheads) – 16 votes
  9. Kale Clague (Moose Jaw Warriors) – 14 votes
  10. Ty Smith (Spokane Chiefs) – 10 votes
  11. Juuso Valmaki (Tri-City Americans) – 9 votes
  12. Dennis Cesana (Brooks Bandits) – 6 votes
  13. Olivier Galipeau (Acadie-Bathurst Titan) – 5 votes
  14. David Quenneville (Medicine Hat Tigers) – 4 votes
  15. Colby Sissons (Swift Current Broncos) – 4 votes
  16. Jacob Bernard-Docker (Okotoks Oilers) – 2 votes
  17. Jason Fram (Alberta Golden Bears) – 1 vote

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Goaltender of the Year – Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips)

The first two-time winner of any Bagskate Hockey Podcast award, Hart’s final season with the Silvertips saw him produce science fiction numbers. In a year where everyone was scoring goals in the WHL, Hart’s 1.60 goals against average was over a goal better than his closest rival (Portland’s Cole Kehler) and his .947 save percentage was 33 percentage points better than the next highest starter (Victoria’s Griffen Outhouse). While Stuart Skinner out-dueled him in the WHL final, Hart’s legacy is set in stone as a three-time WHL goalie of the year winner, this year’s league MVP recipient and a gold medal winner for Canada at the World Juniors. It’s only a matter of time before he becomes the full-time starter for the Philadelphia Flyers.

  1. Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips) – 98 votes
  2. Evan Fitzpatrick (Acadie-Bathurst Titan) – 54 votes
  3. Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires) – 44 votes
  4. Stuart Skinner (Swift Current Broncos) – 42 votes
  5. Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) – 22 votes
  6. Matthew Galadja (Cornell Big Red) – 20 votes
  7. Spencer Knight (US NTDP) – 10 votes
  8. Zach Sawchenko (Moose Jaw Warriors) – 10 votes
  9. Cale Morris (Notre Dame Fighting Irish) – 8 votes
  10. Colton Point (Colgate Raiders) – 8 votes
  11. Kaden Fulcher (Hamilton Bulldogs) – 6 votes
  12. Mitchell Gibson (Lone Star Brahmas) – 5 votes
  13. Matthew Thiessen (Steinbach Pistons) – 5 votes
  14. Samuel Harvey (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies) – 4 votes
  15. Jeremy Helvig (Kingston Frontenacs) – 3 votes
  16. Strauss Mann (Fargo Force) – 2 votes

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Rookie of the Year – Jack Hughes (US NTDP)

It’s pretty simple when it comes to projecting the 2019 NHL Draft class at the moment. There Jack Hughes and everyone else. The highly-touted American forward ran wild over the USHL this year as he average two points per game in his rookie campaign. As a member of the US NTDP, Hughes is part of a super talented crop of 2001-born players that ran over everything in their path at the World Under 17’s and also turned in an excellent showing at the World Under 18’s before losing in the final to Finland. Having yet to commit to an NCAA program and his OHL rights being held by a Mississauga Steelheads side that is expected to struggle next season, it appears Hughes will be back with the US NTDP for another campaign and could be set to put up some staggering numbers before making the jump to the pros.

  1. Jack Hughes (US NTDP) – 76 votes
  2. Filip Zadina (Halifax Mooseheads) – 59 votes
  3. Alexis Lafreniere (Rimouski Oceanic) – 37 votes
  4. Matthew Galadja (Cornell Big Red) – 24 votes
  5. Jake Anthony (Nipawin Hawks) – 22 votes
  6. Rasmus Sandin (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) – 19 votes
  7. Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes) – 17 votes
  8. Alex Newhook (Victoria Grizzlies) – 16 votes
  9. Peyton Krebs (Kootenay Ice) – 14 votes
  10. Arthur Kailyev (Hamilton Bulldogs) – 12 votes
  11. Max Paddock (Regina Pats) – 10 votes
  12. Scott Perunovich (Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs) – 6 votes
  13. Matej Pekar (Muskegon Lumberjacks) – 5 votes
  14. Matthew Thiessen (Steinbach Pistons) – 4 votes
  15. Mitchell Gibson (Lone Star Brahmas) – 3 votes
  16. Riley Brandt (RMC Paladins) – 2 votes

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Team of the Year – Acadie-Bathurst Titan (Memorial Cup Champions)

After reaching the Memorial Cup in the first season in New Brunswick after moving from Laval in 1999, the Titan spent a long time in the QMJHL wilderness and had threat of relocation over the last few seasons. The smallest centre in the CHL returned to the scene in a massive way this year as they took care of the top ranked Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in the league final and then picked up their biggest win in franchise history by capturing the 100th Memorial Cup in Regina. With their success and the Swift Current Broncos capturing the WHL crown, it’s a great sign for the rest of the CHL that small market teams can succeed.

  1. Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL and Memorial Cup Champions) – 74 votes
  2. Canada Under-20 Team (World Junior Champions) – 46 votes
  3. Swift Current Broncos (WHL Champions) – 32 votes
  4. Alberta Golden Bears (University Cup Champions) – 30 votes
  5. Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (Frozen Four Champions) – 29 votes
  6. Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL Champions) – 22 votes
  7. Nipawin Hawks (SJHL Champions) – 14 votes
  8. Wellington Dukes (OJHL and Dudley Hewitt Cup Champions) – 12 votes
  9. Edmundston Blizzard (MHL Champions) – 10 votes
  10. US NTDP (USHL Semi-Finalist) – 10 votes
  11. Chilliwack Chiefs (RBC Cup Champions) – 8 votes
  12. Wenatchee Wild (BCHL and Doyle Cup Champions) – 8 votes
  13. Finland Under-18 Team (World Under-18 Champions) – 7 votes
  14. Longueuil College Francais (QJHL Champions) – 4 votes
  15. Canada Under-18 Team (Ivan Hlinka Champions) – 1 vote
  16. Ottawa Jr. Senators (CCHL and Fred Page Cup Champions) – 1 vote

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Coach of the Year – Mario Pouliot (Acadie-Bathurst Titan)

Back in the 2012-13 season, Pouliot was fired partway through the campaign by the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, who would then go on to lose back-to-back QMJHL finals. After being hired by the Titan four seasons ago, Pouliot has played a key role in helping this core develop from the ground up as they became the top major junior hockey team in the country. As of writing, he’s expected to return to Bathurst next year as they start the rebuilding process towards making another run to the top.

  1. Mario Pouliot (Acadie-Bathurst Titan) – 63 votes
  2. Manny Vivieros (Swift Current Broncos) – 37 votes
  3. Drew Bannister (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) – 33 votes
  4. John Gruden (Hamilton Bulldogs) – 33 votes
  5. Dennis Williams (Everett Silvertips) – 32 votes
  6. John Druce (Wellington Dukes) – 30 votes
  7. Brian Maloney (Chilliwack Chiefs) – 27 votes
  8. Dominique Ducharme (Drummondville Voltigeurs) – 18 votes
  9. Scott Sandelin (Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs) – 12 votes
  10. Joel Bouchard (Blainville-Boisbriand Armada) – 10 votes
  11. Seth Appert (US NTDP Under-18 Team) – 9 votes
  12. John Wroblewski (US NTDP Under-17 Team) – 9 votes
  13. Bliss Littler (Wenatchee WIld) – 8 votes
  14. Tyler Deis (Okotoks Oilers) – 6 votes
  15. Dale Hawerchuk (Barrie Colts) – 6 votes
  16. Doug Johnston (Nipawin Hawks) – 6 votes
  17. Paul Dyck (Steinbach Pistons) – 5 votes
  18. Tim Hunter (Moose Jaw Warriors) – 5 votes
  19. Grant Poltuny (Northern Michigan Wildcats) – 5 votes

Game 7 Celly

Game of the Year – Sault Ste. Marie 4 Kitchener 3 (OHL Semi-Final Game 7 – Double Overtime)

With the Rangers having held off a Greyhounds rally to win Game 6 in Kitchener a night earlier, the stage was set for a humdinger of a finish to the OHL’s Western Conference final. This one certainty delivered as Logan Stanley scored late in the third period to force a pair of dramatic extra frames before Jack Kopacka fired a shot home four minutes into the second overtime to send the Greyhounds to the league final for the first time since 1993. Granted, the championship series didn’t go as I had hoped, but this game certainly tops the lot when it comes to my favourite moment with my hometown team since their Memorial Cup title. I’m forever jealous of my brother that he got to attend this one, though he was a bit bummed out that his Rangers ended up on the losing end.

  1. Sault Ste. Marie 4 Kitchener 3 (OHL Semi-Final Game 7 – Double Overtime) – 67 votes
  2. Nipawin 6 Humboldt 5 (SJHL Semi-Final Game 4 – Triple Overtime) – 42 votes
  3. Moose Jaw 3 Swift Current 2 (WHL Quarter-Final Game 6 – Triple Overtime) – 40 votes
  4. Swift Current 4 Everett 3 (WHL Final Game 2 – Overtime) – 34 votes
  5. Everett 6 Tri-City 5 (WHL Semi-Final Game 6 – Overtime) – 17 votes
  6. Hamilton 2 Swift Current 1 (Memorial Cup Round-Robin) – 17 votes
  7. Moose Jaw 5 Prince Albert 4 (WHL First Round Game 3 – Overtime) – 16 votes
  8. Canada 3 Sweden 1 (World Junior Gold Medal Game) – 15 votes
  9. Kingston 6 North Bay 5 (OHL First Round Game 5 – Triple Overtime) – 13 votes
  10. Wellington 2 Wenatchee 1 (RBC Cup Semi-Final) – 13 votes
  11. Kitchener 4 Sault Ste. Marie 3 (OHL Semi-Final Game 6 – Overtime) – 10 votes
  12. Notre Dame 4 Michigan 3 (Frozen Four Semi-Final) – 10 votes
  13. USA 5 Russia 4 (Five Nations Cup Round-Robin) – 10 votes
  14. Denmark 5 Belarus 4 (World Junior Relegation Round Game 1) – 7 votes
  15. Regina 4 Hamilton 2 (Memorial Cup Semi-Final) – 7 votes
  16. Sault Ste. Marie 4 Hamilton 3 (OHL Final Game 4 – Overtime) – 7 votes
  17. St. Francis Xavier 5 New Brunswick 4 (University Cup Semi-Final – Overtime) – 6 votes
  18. Sault Ste. Marie 3 Kitchener 2 (OHL Semi-Final Game 1) – 5 votes
  19. Slovakia 3 United States 2 (World Junior Round-Robin) – 3 votes
  20. Lethbridge 5 Brandon 4 (WHL Quarter-Final Game 2 – Overtime) – 1 vote

The 2018 Bagskate Hockey Podcast Awards

CHL Award Winners

Following another exciting season of junior and college hockey, it’s time once again to wrap up the campaign the only way I know how.

Well I guess we could of done a hot take convention, but in lieu of that it’s time for the third annual Bagskate Hockey Podcast Awards.

For those that are new to the process, each year I send a ballot to all the guests that appeared on my show for the last 12 months and I also allow the listeners to chime in with their thoughts.

As always, the seven categories are as follows:

Voting will take place until the end of Canada Day (Sunday, July 1) with the final results being posted here later that a week at a to be determined date (translation – whenever I can find time in between my work schedule)

As ever, thanks for voting and be sure to come back next month when we find out who joins the previous winners.

2016

  • Forward Of The Year (Mitchell Marner – London Knights)
  • Defenceman Of The Year (Ivan Provorov – Brandon Wheat Kings)
  • Goalie Of The Year (Carter Hart – Everett Silvertips)
  • Rookie Of The Year (Alexander Nylander – Mississauga Steelheads)
  • Team Of The Year (London Knights – OHL & Memorial Cup Champions)
  • Coach Of The Year (Jukka Jalonen – Finland World Junior Team)
  • Game Of The Year (London 3 Rouyn-Noranda 2 – Memorial Cup Final)

2017

  • Forward Of The Year (Alex DeBrincat – Erie Otters)
  • Defenceman Of The Year (Cale Makar – Brooks Bandits)
  • Goalie Of The Year (Tyler Parsons – London Knights)
  • Rookie Of The Year (Nico Hischier – Halifax Mooseheads)
  • Team Of The Year (Windsor Spitfires – Memorial Cup Champions)
  • Coach Of The Year (Kris Knoblauch – Erie Otters)
  • Game Of The Year (Cobourg 3 Brooks 2 – RBC Cup Final)

2018 Bagskate Hockey Podcast Awards – Game of the Year

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Brandon 4 Medicine Hat 3 (WHL First Round Game 6 – Overtime)

  • Despite a hat-trick by Tigers forward Mark Rassell, the Wheat Kings knocked out the WHL Central Division champions thanks to an overtime winning goal by Linden McCorister in a neutral site game held in Dauphin, Man.

Canada 3 Sweden 1

Canada 3 Sweden 1 (World Juniors Gold Medal Game)

  • Tyler Steenbergen scored his only goal of the tournament with 1:40 left in the third period to give Canada their 17th gold medal at the event and their first title since 2015

Denmark 5 Belarus 4

Denmark 5 Belarus 4 (World Junior Relegation Round Game 1)

  • In this year’s edition of the best game that no one saw, the Danes tied the game with 44 seconds left and found the back of the net with 15 seconds to go to help them stay in the main pool for next year’s World Juniors

Everett 3 Portland 2

Everett 3 Portland 2 (WHL Quarter-Final Game 4)

  • After falling behind 2-1 with 2:07 to go, the Silvertips scored twice in the next 57 seconds to take a commanding 3-1 series lead over their division rivals

Everett 6 Tri-City 5

Everett 6 Tri-City 5 (WHL Semi-Final Game 6 – Overtime)

  • Down 5-2 with almost 10 minutes left in the third period, the Silvertips came roaring back to tie the game before Kevin Davis scored in overtime to punch his team’s ticket to the WHL final for the first time since 2004

Hamilton 2 Swift Current 1

Hamilton 2 Swift Current 1 (Memorial Cup Round-Robin)

  • Broncos goaltender Stuart Skinner turned in an incredible performance with 54 saves, but Marian Studenic would have the final say as he scored with 2:01 left to give the Bulldogs the win

Kingston 6 North Bay 5

Kingston 6 North Bay 5 (OHL First Round Game 5 – Triple Overtime)

  • In the third longest game in OHL history, Gabriel Vilardi potted home his second of the night to advance the Frontenacs to the second round, but not before Justin Brazeau scored four times for the Battalion and netminder Christian Propp turned aside 77 shots for the visitors

Kitchener 4 Sault Ste. Marie 3

Kitchener 4 Sault Ste. Marie 3 (OHL Semi-Final Game 6 – Overtime)

  • After Taylor Raddysh scored twice in the final five minutes to force an extra frame, Kole Sherwood would seal the deal for the Rangers in overtime to set the stage for a seventh and deciding contest in the OHL Western Conference Final

Lethbridge 5 Brandon 4

Lethbridge 5 Brandon 4 (WHL Quarter-Final Game 2 – Overtime)

  • Down 4-0 after 24 minutes of play, the Hurricanes roared back to life in the second half of the game with Tate Olsen scoring at the 16 minute mark of overtime to complete an epic comeback

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Moose Jaw 5 Prince Albert 4 (WHL First Round Game 3 – Overtime)

  • Facing a 4-2 deficit with 2:40 to go, the Warriors scored twice in the final minutes and silenced the Art Hauser Centre crowd with a goal by Brayden Burke just 19 seconds into overtime to take a 2-1 series lead

Moose Jaw 3 Swift Current 2

Moose Jaw 3 Swift Current 2 (WHL Quarter-Final Game 6 – Triple Overtime)

  • Despite being outshot 60-38, the Warriors kept their season alive with a power-play goal by Jayden Halbgewachs and a great goaltending performance by Brody Wilms

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Nipawin 6 Humboldt 5 (SJHL Semi-Final Game 4 – Triple Overtime)

  • In what would be the team’s final game before a devastating bus accident two days later, the Broncos pushed the eventual SJHL champions to the limit before Brandan Arnold scored the game-winner in a back-and-forth affair

Notre Dame 4 Michigan 3

Notre Dame 4 Michigan 3 (Frozen Four Semi-Final)

  • In a season that was full of late heroics for the Fighting Irish, Jake Evans scored with five seconds left to propel the program to the national championship game for the first time since 2008

Regina 4 Hamilton 2

Regina 4 Hamilton 2 (Memorial Cup Semi-Final)

  • A third period goal by Sam Steel and a 44 save performance by Max Paddock sent the host Pats to the Memorial Cup final for the first time since they won the tournament in 1974

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Sault Ste. Marie 3 Kitchener 2 (OHL Semi-Final Game 1)

  • While shorthanded and taking a face-off in the Rangers end, Conor Timmins found the back of the net just as the buzzer sounded in the third period to give the Greyhounds a stunning triumph

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Sault Ste. Marie 4 Kitchener 3 (OHL Semi-Final Game 7 – Double Overtime)

  • A goal by Jack Kopacka at the four minute mark of the second overtime period sent Greyhounds fans into a frenzy as the team advanced to the OHL final for the first time since 1993

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Slovakia 3 United States 2 (World Juniors Round-Robin)

  • A minute after Casey Mittelstadt scored a highlight-reel goal to tie the game, Samuel Bucek scored one of his own as Slovakia defeated the United States for the first time since 2009 at the World Juniors

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Swift Current 4 Everett 3 (WHL Final Game 2 – Overtime)

  • After giving up three goals in the first period, the Broncos slowly clawed their way back before Giorgio Estephan completed the comeback in overtime as the Silvertips blew a 3-0 lead for the first time since Nov. 30, 2014

United States 4 Canada 3

United States 4 Canada 3 (World Juniors Round-Robin – Shootout)

  • Shootout goals by Kieffer Bellows and Brady Tkachuk gave the Americans the win over their archrivals in the first outdoor game ever held at the World Juniors

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Wellington 2 Wenatchee 1 (RBC Cup Semi-Final)

  • In a contest where they were outshot by a 51-14 margin, the Dukes capitalized on a stellar showing from Jonah Capriotti to upset the previously unbeaten Wild and advance to the RBC Cup final


2018 Bagskate Hockey Podcast Awards – Coach of the Year

Drew BAnnister

Drew Bannister (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

  • In his third season as head coach
  • Led the Greyhounds to their first trip to the OHL final since 1993
  • Was named CHL and OHL Coach of the Year
  • Won a gold medal as an assistant coach for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka
  • Was hired as head coach for the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage in June

Joel Bouchard

Joel Bouchard (Blainville-Boisbriand Armada)

  • In his fourth season as general manager and head coach
  • Led the Armada to their second straight QMJHL final
  • Was named QMJHL Coach of the Year
  • Was hired as head coach for the AHL’s Laval Rocket in May

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Tyler Deis (Okotoks Oilers)

  • In his second season as head coach and his first as general manager
  • Led the Oilers to their first AJHL final
  • Was named AJHL and CJHL Coach of the Year

John Druce

John Druce (Wellington Dukes)

  • Was hired as head coach by the Dukes in January after being fired partway through his second season as head coach of the Cobourg Cougars
  • Led the Dukes to their first OJHL and Dudley Hewitt Cup titles since 2011
  • Reached the RBC Cup final for the second year after winning the tournament with the Cougars in 2017

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Dominique Ducharme (Drummondville Voltigeurs)

  • In his second season as general manager and head coach
  • Led the Voltigeurs to the quarter-final for the first time since 2014
  • Served as head coach for Canada at the World Juniors for a second straight year and won a gold medal
  • Was hired as an assistant coach for the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens in April

Paul Dyck

Paul Dyck (Steinbach Pistons)

  • In his sixth season as general manager and head coach
  • Led the Pistons to their second MJHL title and their first trip to the RBC Cup in team history
  • Was named MJHL Coach of the Year for the second straight season

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Cary Eades (Fargo Force)

  • In his third season as general manager and head coach
  • Led the Force to their first USHL title
  • Won his second Clark Cup crown as head coach (Had previously won in 2015 with the Sioux Falls Stampede)

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John Gruden (Hamilton Bulldogs)

  • In his second season as head coach
  • Led the Bulldogs to their first OHL championship since moving from Belleville in 2015

Tim Hunter

Tim Hunter (Moose Jaw Warriors)

  • In his fourth season as head coach
  • Led the Warriors to their first ever WHL regular season crown and their second trip to the quarter-final round in three years
  • Won a gold medal as an assistant coach for Canada at the World Juniors in his second straight year in that role

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Jeff Jackson (Notre Dame Fighting Irish)

  • In his 13th season as head coach
  • Led the Irish to the Big Ten title in their first year to in the conference and their second Frozen Four final (Last reached the title game in 2008)
  • Won the Spencer Penrose Coach of the Year for the second time (Last won in 2007)

Doug Johnson

Doug Johnson (Nipawin Hawks)

  • In his eight season as general manager and head coach
  • Led the Hawks to their first SJHL title since 1990
  • Was named SJHL Coach of the Year for the second straight season

Bliss Littler

Bliss Littler (Wenatchee Wild)

  • In his sixth season as head coach and general managed
  • Led the Wild to their first BCHL title and their first Doyle Cup title in their third year in the league
  • Was named BCHL Coach of the Year for the second straight season

Adam Maglio

Adam Maglio (Prince George Spruce Kings)

  • In his first season as head coach after two seasons as an associate coach with the Spruce Kings
  • Led the Spruce Kings to their first division title and their first ever trip to the BCHL final

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Brian Maloney (Chilliwack Chiefs)

  • Was in his first season as an associate coach before being promoted to the head coach and general manager position in May after Jason Tatarnic was fired
  • After moving into his new role a week before the tournament, he led the Chiefs to their first RBC Cup title

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Grant Potulny (Northern Michigan Wildcats)

  • Was an assistant coach for the NCAA’s Minnesota Golden Gophers for eight seasons prior to being hired by the Wildcats in April 2017
  • Led the team to the WCHA final and their first 20-win season since the 2009-10 season
  • Won a bronze medal as an assistant coach for the United States at the World Juniors in his second straight year in the position

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Mario Pouliot (Acadie-Bathurst Titan)

  • In his fourth season as head coach
  • Led the Titan to their second QMJHL championship and their first Memorial Cup title

Scott Sandelin

Scott Sandelin (Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs)

  • In his 18th season as head coach
  • Led the Bulldogs to their second national title and their first since 2011

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Bram Stephen (Spruce Grove Saints)

  • Was the head coach for the ACAC’s Grant MacEwan Griffins for five seasons prior to being hired by the Saints as their head coach and assistant general manager in June 2017
  • Led the Saints to their first AJHL title since 2015

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Manny Viverios (Swift Current Broncos)

  • In his second season as head coach and director of player personnel
  • Led the Broncos to their first WHL title since 1993
  • Was named WHL Coach of the Year
  • Was hired as an assistant coach by the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers in May

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Dennis Williams (Everett Silvertips)

  • Was the head coach and general manager for the USHL’s Bloomington Thunder for three seasons before being hired by the Silvertips in May
  • Led the team to their first trip to the WHL final since 2004