2019 Bagskate Hockey Podcast Awards – Defenceman of the Year

Ronnite Attard

Ronnie Attard (Tri-City Storm)

  • Had 30 goals and 34 assists in 48 games during his third USHL season
  • His 30 goals and 64 points were the most by a defenceman in the USHL
  • His 1.33 point per game average was the best by a defenceman in the USHL
  • Had the best plus/minus mark in the USHL with a +46 mark
  • Was named the USHL’s player of the year and defenceman of the year
  • Became the first blueliner to win the USHL player of the year award since Brandon Montour in 2014
  • In the playoffs, he had one assist in six games
  • At the World Junior A Challenge, he had one assist and two goals in six games for the United States
  • Has committed to play for the NCAA’s Western Michigan Broncos next season
  • Was selected in the third round by the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2019 NHL Draft

Kyle Auger

Kyle Auger (Thunder Bay North Stars)

  • Had 33 goals and 69 assists in 53 games during his second SIJHL season
  • His 33 goals and 102 points were the most by a defenceman in the CJHL and in the SIJHL
  • His 1.92 point per game average was the best by a defenceman in the CJHL and in the SIJHL
  • His 69 assists were the most by any player in the SIJHL
  • Was tied with Keighan Gerrie for the most points in the SIJHL with 102
  • Was named the SIJHL’s defenceman of the year
  • In the playoffs, he had three goals and 10 assists in 10 games
  • His 10 assists were the most by any player in the SIJHL playoffs
  • His 13 points were the most by a defenceman in the SIJHL playoffs
  • At the Dudley Hewitt Cup, he had three goals in three games
  • His was three goals was the most by a defenceman at the tournament
  • Was tied with three other players for the most points by a defenceman at the tournament with three
  • An undrafted player, he has committed to play for the Lakehead Thunderwolves in U Sports next season

Adam Boqvist

Adam Boqvist (London Knights)

  • Had 20 goals and 40 assists in 54 games in his first OHL season after two years in the SuperElit
  • In the playoffs, he had 10 goals and three assists in 11 games
  • Was tied with Dmitri Samorukov for the most goals by a defenceman in the OHL playoffs with 10
  • At the World Juniors, he had one goal and three assists in five games for Sweden
  • The eighth overall pick at the 2018 NHL Draft, he signed an entry level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks in July

Evan Bouchard

Evan Bouchard (London Knights)

  • Had 16 goals and 37 assists in 45 games during his fourth OHL season
  • Was named the OHL’s defenceman of the year
  • In the playoffs, he had four goals and 17 assists in 11 games
  • At the World Juniors, he had three assists in five games for Canada
  • The 10th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, he signed an entry level contract with the Edmonton Oilers in July
  • He started the season with the Oilers and had a goal in seven games
  • He finished the year with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors and had three goals and five assists in eight playoff games

Josh Brook

Josh Brook (Moose Jaw Warriors)

  • Had 16 goals and 59 assists in 59 games during his fourth WHL season
  • His 1.27 point per game average was the best by a defenceman in the CHL and in the WHL
  • Was tied with Dawson Davidson for the most points by a defenceman in the WHL with 75
  • In the playoffs, he had three assists in four games
  • At the World Juniors, he had two assists in five games for Canada
  • A second round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, he signed an entry level contract with the Montreal Canadiens in September
  • Had an assist in seven regular season games with the AHL’s Laval Rocket

Bowen Byram

Bowen Byram (Vancouver Giants)

  • Had 26 goals and 45 assists in 67 games during his second WHL season
  • His 26 goals were the most by a defenceman in the CHL and in the WHL
  • Received the CHL’s Top Prospect Award
  • In the playoffs, he had eight goals and 18 assists in 22 games
  • His 18 assists and 26 points were the most in the WHL playoffs
  • His eight goals were the most by a defenceman in the WHL playoffs
  • Became the first blueliner to lead the WHL playoffs in scoring
  • At the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, he had one goal and three assists in five games for Canada
  • Was selected with the fourth overall pick by the Colorado Avalanche at the 2019 NHL Draft

Charles-Edouard D'Astous

Charles-Edouard D’Astous (Rimouski Oceanic)

  • Had 14 goals and 52 assists in 55 games during his fourth QMJHL season
  • His 52 assists and 66 points were the most by a defenceman in the QMJHL
  • His 1.20 point per game average was the best by a defenceman in the QMJHL
  • Was named the QMJHL’s defenceman of the year and the CHL’s humanitarian of the year
  • In the playoffs, he had one goal and 14 assists in 13 games
  • An undrafted player, he signed a contract with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins in April

Dawson Davidson

Dawson Davidson (Saskatoon Blades)

  • Had 13 goals and 62 assists in 68 games during his fifth WHL season
  • Was tied with Ty Smith for the most assists by a defenceman in the CHL and in the WHL with 62
  • Was tied with Josh Brook for the most points by a defenceman in the WHL with 75
  • In the playoffs, he had nine assists in 10 games
  • An undrafted player, he has yet to sign a pro contract

Noah Dobson

Noah Dobson (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies)

  • Had 15 goals and 37 assists in 56 games during his third QMJHL season
  • Started the season with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan and had nine goals and seven assists in 28 games
  • Was traded to Rouyn-Noranda in January and had six goals and 30 assists in 28 games
  • In the playoffs, he had eight goals and 21 assists in 20 games
  • Was tied with Peter Abbandonato for the most assists in the QMJHL playoffs with 21
  • His 30 points were the most by a defenceman in the QMJHL playoffs
  • Was tied with Justin Bergeron for the most goals by a defenceman in the QMJHL playoffs with eight
  • Became the first defenceman since Thomas Chabot in 2017 to be named QMJHL playoff MVP (Danny Groulx was the last blueliner prior to Chabot to win the award in 2002)
  • At the Memorial Cup, he had a goal and two assists in five games
  • At the World Juniors, he had a goal in five games for Canada
  • The 12th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, he signed an entry level deal with the New York Islanders in August

Sean Durzi

Sean Durzi (Guelph Storm)

  • Had 11 goals and 26 assists in 35 games during his fourth OHL season
  • Started the season with the Owen Sound Attack and had three goals and 14 assists in 18 games
  • Was traded to Guelph in January and had eight goals and 12 assists in 17 games
  • In the playoffs, he had three goals and 24 assists in 24 games
  • His 24 assists were the most by a defenceman in the OHL playoffs
  • At the Memorial Cup, he had two goals and five assists in four games
  • His two goals, five assists and seven points were the most by a defenceman at the tournament
  • A second round pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2018 NHL Draft, his rights were dealt to the Los Angeles Kings in January as part of the Jake Muzzin trade
  • The Kings would then sign him to an entry level contract in April

Joseph Duszak

Joseph Duszak (Mercyhurst Lakers)

  • Had 16 goals and 31 assists in 37 games during his junior season in the NCAA
  • Was named Atlantic Hockey’s most valuable player and top defenceman
  • An undrafted player, he signed an entry level contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs in March
  • He played in two regular season games with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies and had one goal in four playoff games

Adam Fox

Adam Fox (Harvard Crimson)

  • Had nine goals and 39 assists in 33 games during his junior season in the NCAA
  • His 36 assists were the most by any player in the NCAA
  • His 1.45 point per game average was the best by any player in the NCAA
  • Was named the ECAC’s player of the year
  • At the World Championship, he had one assist in eight games for the United States
  • A third round pick by the Calgary Flames in the 2016 NHL Draft, his rights were dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes in June 2018 as part of the Dougie Hamilton/Noah Hanifin/Elias Lindholm trade
  • The New York Rangers would acquire his rights in April and sign him to an entry level contract in May

Mac Hollowell of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Mac Hollowell (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

  • Had 24 goals and 53 assists in 64 games during his fourth OHL season
  • His 77 points were the most by a defenceman in the CHL and in the OHL
  • His 24 goals were the most by a defenceman in the OHL
  • His 1.20 point per game average was the best by a defenceman in the OHL
  • In the playoffs, he had two goals and nine assists in 11 games
  • A fourth round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, he signed an entry level contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs in March
  • Had an assist in nine playoff games for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies

TJ Lloyd

TJ Lloyd (Spruce Grove Saints)

  • Had 11 goals and 34 assists in 53 games during his third AJHL season
  • Was named the AJHL’s and the CJHL’s top defenceman
  • In the playoffs, he had two goals and seven assists in 18 games
  • At the World Junior A Challenge, he had two assists in six games for Canada West
  • An undrafted player, he has committed to play for the NCAA’s Bowling Green Falcons next season

Cale Makar

Cale Makar (UMass Minutemen)

  • Had 16 goals and 33 assists in 41 games during his sophomore season in the NCAA
  • His 49 points were the most by a defenceman in the NCAA
  • Was named Hockey East’s player of the year and became the first blueliner since Will Butcher in 2017 to win the Hobey Baker Award (Matt Gilroy was the last defenceman prior to Butcher to win the award in 2009)
  • The fourth overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, he signed an entry level contract with the Colorado Avalanche in April and had a goal and five assists in 10 playoff games

Brayden Pachal

Brayden Pachal (Prince Albert Raiders)

  • Had 15 goals and 36 assists in 66 games during his fourth WHL season
  • Had the best plus/minus mark in the CHL and in the WHL at +76
  • In the playoffs, he had one goal and seven assists in 23 games
  • At the Memorial Cup, he had a goal and two assists in three games
  • An undrafted player, he has yet to sign a pro contract

Jimmy Schuldt

Jimmy Schuldt (St. Cloud State Huskies)

  • Had 10 goals and 25 assists in 39 games in his senior season in the NCAA
  • Was named the NCHC’s player of the year
  • An undrafted player, he signed an entry level contract with the Vegas Golden Knights in April and had an assist in his NHL debut against the Los Angeles Kings on April 6

Ty Smith

Ty Smith (Spokane Chiefs)

  • Had seven goals and 62 assists in 57 games during his third WHL season
  • Was tied with Dawson Davidson for the most assists by a defenceman in the CHL and in the WHL with 62
  • Was named the CHL’s and the WHL’s defenceman of the year
  • In the playoffs, he had a goal and eight assists in 15 games
  • At the World Juniors, he had three assists in five games for Canada
  • The 17th overall pick at the 2017 WHL Draft, he signed an entry level contract with the New Jersey Devils in August

Cody Spagrud

Cody Spagrud (Battlefords North Stars)

  • Had 10 goals and 32 assists in 56 games during his fourth SJHL season
  • Was named the SJHL’s defenceman of the year
  • In the playoffs, he had a goal and nine assists in 16 games
  • In the Anavet Cup, he had a goal and two assists in five games
  • An undrafted player, he has committed to play for the Saskatchewan Huskies in U Sports next season

Jordan Spence

Jordan Spence (Moncton Wildcats)

  • Had six goals and 43 assists in 68 games during his first QMJHL season after one year in the MHL
  • His 43 assists were the most by a rookie in the QMJHL
  • His 43 assists, 49 points and 0.72 point per game average were the best marks by a rookie defender in the CHL and in the QMJHL
  • Was named the QMJHL’s rookie of the year
  • In the playoffs, he had one goal and three assists in four games
  • At the World Under 18’s, he had a goal and two assists in seven games for Canada
  • Was selected in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Kings at the 2019 NHL Draft
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2019 Bagskate Hockey Podcast Awards – Forward of the Year

Peter Abbandonato

Peter Abbandonato (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies)

  • Had 29 goals and 82 assists in 68 games during his fourth QMJHL season
  • His 82 assists were the most in the CHL and in the QMHL
  • His 111 points were the most in the QMJHL
  • Had the best plus/minus mark in the QMJHL at +71
  • Was named the QMJHL’s most sportsmanlike player
  • In the playoffs, he had six goals and 21 assists in 15 games
  • Was tied with Noah Dobson for the most assists in the QMJHL playoffs with 21
  • At the Memorial Cup, he had two goals and three assists in five games
  • An undrafted player, he signed a contract with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch in June

Justin Almeida

Justin Almeida (Moose Jaw Warriors)

  • Had 33 goals and 78 assists in 64 games during his fourth WHL season
  • His 78 assists were the most in the WHL
  • Was named the WHL’s most sportsmanlike player and received the CHL’s sportsman of the year award
  • In the playoffs, he had no points in four games
  • A fifth round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, he signed an entry level contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins in March

Justin Ball

Justin Ball (Melfort Mustangs)

  • Had 54 goals and 49 assists in 58 games during his third SJHL season
  • His 54 goals and 103 points were the most in the SJHL
  • His 1.78 point per game average was the best in the SJHL
  • Was named the SJHL’s most valuable player
  • In the playoffs, he had eight goals and 15 assists in 16 games
  • His 15 assists and 23 points were the most in the SJHL playoffs
  • An undrafted player, he has committed to play for the Saskatchewan Huskies in U Sports next season

Joachim Blichfeld

Joachim Blichfeld (Portland Winterhawks)

  • Had 53 goals and 61 assists in 68 games during his third WHL season
  • His 114 points were the most in the WHL
  • Was tied with Tristin Langan for the most goals in the WHL with 53
  • Was named the WHL’s player of the year
  • In the playoffs, he had two goals and two assists in five games
  • A seventh round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, he signed an entry level contract with the San Jose Sharks in December 2017

Justin Brazeau

Justin Brazeau (North Bay Battalion)

  • Had 61 goals and 52 assists in 68 games during his fourth OHL season
  • His 61 goals were the most in the CHL and in the OHL
  • Was named the OHL’s overage player of the year
  • In the playoffs, he had one goal in five games
  • An undrafted player, he signed a contract with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies in April

Tye Felhaber

Tye Felhaber (Ottawa 67’s)

  • Had 59 goals and 50 assists in 68 games during his fifth OHL season
  • Was tied with Austen Keating for the best plus/minus mark in the OHL at +56
  • In the playoffs, he had 17 goals and 11 assists in 18 games
  • His 17 goals were the most in the OHL playoffs
  • An undrafted player, he signed an entry level contract with the Dallas Stars in March

Trey Fix-Wolansky

Trey Fix-Wolansky (Edmonton Oil Kings)

  • Had 37 goals and 65 assists in 65 games during his third WHL season
  • In the playoffs, he had six goals and eight assists in 16 games
  • A seventh round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, he signed an entry level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets in March
  • Had a goal and an assist in three playoff games for the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters

Morgan Frost

Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

  • Had 37 goals and 72 assists in 58 games during his fourth OHL season
  • His 72 assists were the most in the OHL
  • In the playoffs, he had seven goals and 11 assists in 11 games
  • At the World Juniors, he had four goals and four assists in five games for Canada
  • The 27th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, he signed an entry level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers in August 2017

Cody Glass

Cody Glass (Portland Winterhawks)

  • Had 15 goals and 54 assists in 38 games during his fourth WHL season
  • His 1.82 point per game average was the best in the WHL
  • In the playoffs, he had one goal in one game
  • At the World Juniors, he had two goals and four assists in five games for Canada
  • The sixth overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, he signed an entry level contract with the Vegas Golden Knights in July 2017
  • Had three goals and two assists in three regular season games for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves
  • In the playoffs, he has seven goals and eight assists in 22 games

Dylan Holloway

Dylan Holloway (Okotoks Oilers)

  • Had 40 goals and 48 assists in 53 games during his second AJHL season
  • His 1.66 point per game average was the best in the AJHL
  • Was named the AJHL’s most valuable player
  • In the playoffs, he had nine goals and four assists in 11 games
  • At the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, he had a goal and two assists in five games for Canada
  • At the World Junior A Challenge, he had two goals and three assists in six games for Canada West
  • At the World Under 18’s, he had two goals and two assists in seven games for Canada
  • Has committed to play for the NCAA’s Wisconsin Badgers next season
  • Is projected to be a top 10 pick at the 2020 NHL Draft

Jack Hughes

Jack Hughes (US NTDP)

  • Had 12 goals and 36 assists in 24 games during his second USHL season
  • At the World Juniors, he had four assists in four games for the United States
  • At the World Under 18’s, he had nine goals and 11 assists in seven games for the United States
  • His 11 assists and 20 points were the most at the World Under 18’s
  • At the World Championship, he had three assists in seven games for the United States
  • Was selected with the first overall pick by the New Jersey Devils at the 2019 NHL Draft

Kaapo Kakko

Kaapo Kakko (TPS)

  • Had 22 goals and 16 assists in 45 games during his first Liiga season after one year in the Jr. A SM-Liiga
  • His 22 goals were the most by a rookie in the Liiga
  • In the playoffs, he had four goals and one assist in five games
  • At the World Juniors, he had two goals and three assists in seven games
  • He scored the game winning goal for Finland in the World Junior gold medal game
  • At the World Championship, he had six goals and one assist in 10 games
  • Was selected with the second overall pick by the New York Rangers at the 2019 NHL Draft

Alexis Lafreniere

Alexis Lafreniere (Rimouski Oceanic)

  • Had 37 goals and 68 assists in 61 games during his second QMJHL season
  • Was named the CHL’s player of the year and the QMJHL’s most valuable player
  • In the playoffs, he had nine goals and 14 assists in 13 games
  • At the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, he had five goals and six assists in five games for Canada
  • Was tied with Vasili Podkolzin for the most points at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup with 11
  • At the World Juniors, he had one goal in five games
  • Is projected to be the first overall pick at the 2020 NHL Draft

Tristin Langan

Tristin Langan (Moose Jaw Warriors)

  • Had 53 goals and 60 assists in 67 games during his fourth WHL season
  • Was tied with Joachim Blichfeld for the most goals in the WHL with 53
  • In the playoffs, he had one goal and two assists in four games
  • An undrafted player, he has yet to sign a pro contract

Brett Leason

Brett Leason (Prince Albert Raiders)

  • Had 36 goals and 53 assists in 55 games during his third WHL season
  • Started the regular season on a 30-game point streak, which put him in a tie with Jordan Kyrou of the 2016-17 Sarnia Sting for the seventh longest run of form in the CHL since 1997-98
  • In the playoffs, he had 10 goals and 15 assists in 22 games
  • At the Memorial Cup, he had no points in three games
  • At the World Juniors, he had three goals and two assists in five games for Canada
  • Was selected in the second round by the Washington Capitals at the 2019 NHL Draft

Alex Newhook

Alex Newhook (Victoria Grizzlies)

  • Had 38 goals and 64 assists in 53 games during his second BCHL season
  • His 64 assists and 102 points were the most in the BCHL
  • His 1.92 point per game average was the best in the BCHL
  • Was named the BCHL’s and CJHL’s most valuable player, in addition to being named the CJHL’s top forward
  • In the playoffs, he had 11 goals and 13 assists in 15 games
  • His 24 points were the most in the BCHL playoffs
  • At the World Junior A Challenge, he had four assists in six games for Canada West
  • At the World Under 18’s, he had five goals and five assists in 10 games for Canada
  • Has committed to play for the NCAA’s Boston College Eagles next season
  • Was selected with the 16th overall pick by the Colorado Avalanche at the 2019 NHL Draft

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Luke Philp (Alberta Golden Bears)

  • Had 21 goals and 24 assists in 24 games during his junior season in U Sports
  • His 1.88 point per game average was the best in U Sports
  • Was named Canada West’s and U Sports’ most valuable player
  • In the Canada West playoffs, he had a goal and two assists in five games
  • At the University Cup, he had three goals and two assists in three games
  • An undrafted player, he signed an entry level contract with the Calgary Flames in March

Ryan Poehling

Ryan Poehling (St. Cloud State Huskies)

  • Had eight goals and 23 assists in 36 games during his junior season in the NCAA
  • At the World Juniors, he had five goals and three assists in seven games for the United States
  • Was named the tournament MVP at the World Juniors
  • The 25th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, he signed an entry level contract with the Montreal Canadiens in March
  • He recorded a hat trick in his NHL debut on April 6 against the Toronto Maple Leafs

JAson Robertson

Jason Robertson (Niagara IceDogs)

  • Had 48 goals and 69 assists in 62 games during his fourth OHL season
  • His 117 points were the most in the CHL and in the OHL
  • His 1.89 point per game average was the best in the OHL
  • Started the season with the Kingston Frontenacs and had 23 goals and 15 assists in 24 games
  • Was traded to Niagara in November and had 25 goals and 54 assists in 38 games
  • Received the CHL’s Top Scorer Award
  • In the playoffs, he had seven goals and three assists in 10 games
  • At the World Juniors, he had one goal and six assists in seven games for the United States
  • A second round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, he signed an entry level contract with the Dallas Stars in May 2018

Nick Suzuki

Nick Suzuki (Guelph Storm)

  • Had 34 goals and 60 assists in 59 games during his fourth OHL season
  • Started the season with the Owen Sound Attack and had 22 goals and 23 assists in 30 games
  • Was traded to Guelph in January and had 12 goals and 37 assists in 29 games
  • Was named the OHL’s most sportsmanlike player for the third straight season
  • In the playoffs, he had 16 goals and 26 assists in 42 games
  • His 26 assists and 42 points were the most in the OHL playoffs
  • Was named the OHL playoff MVP
  • At the Memorial Cup, he had three goals and four assists in four games
  • At the World Juniors, he had three assists in five games for Canada
  • The 13th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, he signed an entry level contract with the Vegas Golden Knights in July 2017
  • His NHL rights are now held by the Montreal Canadians as they acquired him in September as part of the Max Pacioretty trade

Giants send WHL final back to Prince Albert

Giants

(Gerry Kahrmann/PNG) Prince Albert Raiders forward Ozzy Wiesblatt tries to corral a loose puck while Vancouver Giants forward Tristen Nielsen gets in front of netminder David Tendeck on Friday night at the Langley Events Centre.

With their season on the line, the Vancouver Giants came up with a strong performance to keep their quest for the Ed Chynoweth Cup alive.

Down 3-1 in the Western Hockey League final, the Giants picked up a 4-3 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in their last game of the season at the Langley Events Centre and forced a Game 6 at the Art Hauser Centre Sunday at 6 p.m.

“We’re not done yet,” Giants blueliner Dylan Plouffe said to play-by-play announcer Dan O’Connor on the Sportsnet 650 post-game show. “That’s the mentality that we have right now.

“We’ve had a lot of confidence in ourselves all year long. Our backs were against the wall tonight  and we made sure that our last game wasn’t going to be on home ice”

The game was tied at one after the first period, but the Raiders would move out in front at the 2:45 mark of the middle frame as Dante Hannoun scored just seconds after the visitors killed off a Brett Leason roughing penalty.

That lead would last 50 seconds as Bowen Byram sniped home his eighth of the playoffs, while Davis Koch and Plouffe would both score at the midway point of the contest to send the Giants crowd into a frenzy.

“There were a couple of rebounds and a couple of missed assignments there, which is not like us,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “We’re usually pretty good at those types of things.

“We were there, but we weren’t quite there at times tonight. You need to play at a certain level when a series is on the line, and close isn’t good enough.”

Noah Gregor cut the gap down to a single goal a few minutes later and the Raiders outshot the Giants by a 15-5 margin in the final frame, but they were unable to get any closer.

“We had a number of chances to bury the puck, especially at the end of the game, but we came up a little bit short,” Gregor said.

“When we raised our level of play in the third period, we were good,” Habscheid added. “We just need to do that a little more often before we get to the third period.”

Byram and Brayden Watts led the way for the Giants on offence with a goal and an assist each, while Jadon Joseph had a pair of helpers and David Tendeck made 37 saves.

“We showed a lot of character tonight,” said Byram, who now has 25 points in the playoffs and is tied with Leason for the league lead. “This was the first time that we faced elimination all season and now we just need to go out and win two more times.”

“The building blocks for tonight’s game were put in place with how we played on Wednesday (in a 1-0 loss) as we continued to play the right way,” Giants head coach Michael Dyck added. “The guys believe in each other and good things happen when you do that.”

Leason had a pair of assists in the loss, which saw Aliaksei Protas find the back of the net and Ian Scott turn aside 26 shots.

The Raiders will have another chance to capture their first league title since 1985 in Prince Albert on Sunday, with a seventh and deciding contest taking place at the Art Hauser Centre on Monday at 7 p.m. if needed.

“If someone had told me at the start of the year that we’d have two games at home to try and win the league title, we’d take it,” Habscheid said.

“Everyone knows that it’s a tough place to play in,” Raiders captain Brayden Pachal added. “We can’t wait to have our fans welcome us back home and it’s going to be a loud one for sure.”

Tickets for both games will go on sale at the Art Hauser Centre box office at 9 a.m. Saturday, with a limit of six tickets per person.

Online sales will start at 10 a.m.

If a seventh game is not required, fans can use the tickets as a voucher towards any regular season contest during the 2019-20 campaign.

Post-Game Notes

5,033 fans were in attendance for Friday’s encounter at the Langley Events Centre, which set a new record for the largest crowd for a hockey game at the facility.

The Giants’ biggest crowd since moving to Langley three years ago came on April 19 of this year when 4,917 fans came to the opening game of the Western Conference Final series against the Spokane Chiefs.

This marks the third straight year that the WHL final will go at least six games, as the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Regina Pats on the road in 2017 and the Swift Current Broncos knocked off the Everett Silvertips on home ice last May.

Leason’s two assist night allowed him to set the longest point streak in this year’s playoffs at eight games, while Protas’ first period marker has him in a tie with Riley Woods of the Spokane Chiefs for the second longest run at seven games.

Max Martin, who missed the last two games with an injury, was back on the Raiders blueline Friday as Loeden Schaufler was scratched.

Landon Fuller, Tyler Ho, Aidan Barfoot and Nic Draffin did not dress for the Giants.

Friday’s Scores

OHL

  • Guelph 4 Ottawa 3 (Guelph leads 3-2 – Alexey Toropchenko – One Goal and One Assist)

Thursday’s Scores

QMJHL

  • Rouyn-Noranda 6 Halifax 3 (Rouyn-Noranda leads 3-2 – Rafael Harvey-Pinard – Three Goals – Third Career Playoff Hat Trick and Second This Year)

Saturday’s Schedule

  • Rouyn-Noranda vs. Halifax (Game 6) – 1 p.m.

Sunday’s Schedule

  • Ottawa vs. Guelph (Game 6) – 12 p.m.
  • Vancouver vs. Prince Albert (Game 6) – 6 p.m.

 

 

 


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.

 

 

 

 


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

Acadie-Bathurst Titan v Regina Pats

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