Monthly Archives: March 2019

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