SUMMERSIDE – Four men’s teams sport 2-0 (won-lost) records at the 2017 Home Hardware Road to the Roar Olympic Pre-Trials curling event.
There are 14 men’s teams and 14 women’s teams competing at Summerside’s Eastlink Arena, hoping to nail down the final two spots in the respective Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Olympic trials next month in Ottawa.
Edmonton’s Charley Thomas, Toronto’s Glenn Howard, John Morris of Vernon, B.C., and Jean-Michel Menard from Saint-Romauld, Que., are 2-0.
Menard, Quebec’s perennial Brier representative, appeared well in control, leading 5-1 at the fifth end break, but Greg Balsdon of Kingston, Ont., fought back in the second half, closing to within two after nine. Menard, however, got his deuce with hammer en route to a 9-5 win.
The ‘local interest’ game had Halifax’s Jamie Murphy scoring a come-from-behind 9-5 win over a Regina rink skipped by Seven Mile Bay native Adam Casey.
It was Casey’s first game of the competition. Murphy is even at 1-1.
The turning point, Murphy suggested, was his deuce in eight.
“That’s kind of a control end,” he noted.
It gave Murphy a 6-5 lead, and he added to it with a stolen single in the ninth.
The final end had Casey putting up guards and Murphy removing them, leaving two Murphy stones unprotected on the top of the four-foot.
Casey was left with a narrow strip of exposed granite with his hammer, hoping to remove Murphy’s counters while leaving his two stones right in front of them.
“He almost made it. It was a good try,” acknowledged Murphy, who stole two in the end. “It looked good all the way. It was a very tough shot.”
Hog line violation
Thomas rose to the top of the standings in dramatic fashion. He scored three against Dayna Deruelle of Brampton, Ont., in the ninth to tie the score at 7-7, and got the win when Deruelle was called for a hog line violation on his hammer shot in the 10th.
Howard went up 5-2 with a steal of one in the eighth, but Colton Flasch of Nutana, Sask., made it close with a deuce in the ninth. Howard got a single with the hammer in the 10th for a 6-4 win.
Morris took a 3-1 lead with a triple against Sarnia’s Mark Bice in the second end, and then stole his way to a 6-1 lead after six. Morris ultimately won 7-2 in eight ends.
Menard described the fast ice at Eastlink Arena as fair, just what skips want.
“We’re confident, not overconfident. Relaxed,” Menard said. “We’re just happy to be here.
“We’re hoping to give our opponents a good game, which we have done so far.”
While making it to the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings in Ottawa next month is his team’s goal, Menard said they are realistic about their chances after that.
“If we go through from here it will be amazing, but then in Ottawa it would be really, really tough,” he added.
Murphy, skip of the only Atlantic Canada men’s team at the Road to the Roar, had similar sentiments.
“The game is going to an extremely elite level ,and I think it’s just different choices for teams on this side of the country,” he said. “Teams are just choosing to not make the commitment that the really top teams are, and all the credit to the top teams.
“They play a lot, they work hard at it, and they’re very good as a result of it.”
Murphy said his team is really happy to be in Summerside.
“It’s a really balanced field, in our opinion. Every game is extremely winnable. I think towards the end of the week the standings are going to be pretty congested.”