After both improving to 4-0 (won-lost) on Monday, Howard Rajala’s Ontario rink and New Brunswick’s Wayne Tallon foursome will go head-to-head at the Canadian senior curling championships.
Rajala’s squad defeated Newfoundland and Labrador’s Glenn Goss 8-5 in a back-and-forth match that featured the hammer flip-flopping between teams for the majority of the game.
Rajala opened the scoring with a pair in the first end, but Goss answered back with a single in the second.
After posting a two-point end in the third, Rajala would miss a crucial shot with his final rock in the fourth. Attempting to draw into the house, the Ontario skip nicked his own guard near the top of the circle, knocking both stones out of play and leaving the way clear for Goss to draw to the button for two points.
Rajala and Co. would rebuild their two-point lead with back-to-back singles, before Newfoundland and Labrador added one in the eighth.
That would be as close as Goss would come, however, as Ontario posted another double in the ninth end to close out the scoring.
Newfoundland and Labrador would concede the final end.
Rajala said the back-and-forth affair was due to similar strategies between teams, and ice conditions.
“I think both teams struggled a bit with the ice,” said Rajala. “We both like to get rocks in play, and the ice is swinging a lot.”
Rajala, who appeared in the 1999 Canadian men’s curling championship along with teammate Rich Moffatt, said his team needs to keep making shots to remain undefeated.
“You’ve just got to be confident that it’s going to curl,” he added. “Believe that it’s going to go, and it will.”
Two sheets to Rajala’s left, Tallon tacked on a 9-7 victory over Alberta’s Wade White.
With the majority of the crowd gathered around to watch, neither skip disappointed.
Alberta posted one point in the first, and the teams blanked the second end.
With four yellow Alberta stones surrounding the perimeter of the house in the third end, Tallon was forced to draw to the button with the final shot for a single point, handing the hammer back to White.
Alberta would score another single in the fourth, before Tallon posted a three-point fifth end to take a 4-2 lead into the break.
Alberta would look to tie it up in the sixth, sitting two stones in the house, with one rock left, and last-shot advantage. Tallon had other plans, however, and executed a double takeout hit-and-roll, sitting two as a result. White was forced to draw to the button for a single point.
A series of missed opportunities by White’s squad in the seventh led to a four-point end for Tallon, and an 8-3 lead with three ends to play.
Alberta wouldn’t go down easy, however. They scored deuces in the eighth and ninth ends to chip the deficit to one.
With the game on the line, and the hammer on his side, Tallon would draw for a single point in the final end.
Tallon said the seventh end was a turning point.
“We drew for four in the seventh, so that was a big end for us,” he said. “That put us up by five at that point, and we hung on for the win.”
Tallon is now looking ahead to the first-place showdown with Rajala’s squad.
“Team Ontario was the team to beat coming into this event, so we’re looking forward to playing them tomorrow (Tuesday),” Tallon said.
Rajala is also looking forward to the match, though he wasn’t even sure when they were facing off.
“Is that who we play tomorrow? Yeah. . . yeah I think it is,” he laughed.
Being familiar with some of Tallon’s team, Rajala expects a good game.
“I know (N.B. third) Mike Kennedy pretty well, we’ve been chatting quite a bit,” said Rajala. “It looks like they’re on quite a roll, so it should be a fun one.”
The two teams will hit the ice at 9 a.m.