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GymZone - Home of the Sudbury Laurels
Caruso Club
Wednesday, Mar. 20, 2019
Team Croisier to play for gold at Canada Winter Games
2019-03-02
by Randy Pascal

Sudbury and area curlers have distinguished themselves, with regularity, on the national scene in recent years, and the current late February stretch has been no exception.

In fact, still on the go out in Red Deer (Alberta) at the 2019 Canada Winter Games is the Idylwylde Golf & Country Club U18 foursome of Bella Croisier, Jamie Smith, Piper Croisier and Lauren Rajala. With the round robin schedule now completed, the local girls, representing Ontario, are looking down upon all remaining provinces, boasting a record of 9-1, one game ahead of Manitoba at 8-2.

The tone was set early for Team Croisier as the pride of northern Ontario scored three in their very first end against Prince Edward Island, cruising to a 7-4 win before dodging a bullet in game two versus New Brunswick last Sunday.

The locals looked nothing if not sluggish in falling behind 8-3 after five ends, with not a whole lot more hope when New Brunswick skip Rachel Brewer forced Croisier to settle for one, with the hammer, in the sixth.

Few onlookers, if any, could have predicted the steal of three followed by a steal of two that secured a wild 9-8 come-from-behind victory for the ultra successful Idylwylde quartet. Late game heroics were once again in order in the only Monday game on the slate for Croisier and company, as the squad rallied from a 5-4 deficit after six, racking up a huge four point end in the seventh and closing out Saskatchewan by a final score of 9-5, improving to 3-0 in the process.

Those near misses only seemed to re-focus the Sudbury gals, who were absolutely on a mission on day three as the Ontario flag bearers absolutely dominated both Nova Scotia (8-1) and Newfoundland (10-1), with neither contest making it to the seventh end.

Plenty of big ends still in store on Wednesday, as Croisier counts for two in the first, four in the fifth and three more in the seventh, taking down British Columbia by a final count of 11-4, and setting the stage for an afternoon battle that could well have been a preview to the gold medal affair this weekend.

The Hayley Bergman Manitoba rink had but one blemish, a close 5-4 loss to Alberta, as they prepared to face the undefeated Ontarians in the afternoon draw. This one lived up to expectations, especially through the opening five ends, as Bergman and her team clung to a 2-1 advantage. A steal of three in the sixth was undoubtedly the key turning point for Manitoba, though a Croisier counter of two in the seventh did force the eighth to be played, with final scoreboard reading 5-3 for the westerners.

Time to get right back on the horse Thursday morning, as Team Croisier opened up a 5-1 lead after three ends, besting Alberta 8-5, and closing out their preliminary round with victories over both the Northwest Territories (9-1) and Québec (7-4).

The 2018 NOCA U-18 champions have already garnered themselves no worse than a shot for the medals, nabbing a coveted first round playoff bye and a pathway directly into the semi-finals that took place late last night.

UPDATE: The cardiac kids did it again, spotting Nova Scotia a 4-2 lead after four ends in their semi-final affair last night, trading one point ends in the fifth and sixth, but scoring two with the hammer in seven, and a steal of one in eight to escape with a 6-5 win and a match-up against Manitoba beginning at noon on Saturday.

As the Canada Winter Games were kicking off, the 2019 Scotties Tournament of Hearts was drawing to a close in Nova Scotia. And as is so often been the case, there was Sudbury content to be cheered for.

Team Northern Ontario, which included both Kendra Lilly at vice and Jennifer Gates at second, would find themselves in a three-way tie with both Ontario and Saskatchewan for second place behind Alberta (9-2), with the Thunder Bay crew dropping a 6-4 decision to Rachel Homan (Ontario) in the 4th vs 3rd page match last Friday night.

While teammates Kendra Lilly, Krista McCarville (skip) and Sarah Potts (lead) all earned a spot on the second all-star team, Jennifer Gates would ascend to the #1 quartet, joined there by skip Rachel Homan and vice Emma Miskew, both from Ontario, as well as Team Canada lead Dawn McEwen.

“Actually, I didn't start off very well,” noted Gates, reached earlier this week. “Through the first three to four games, I wasn't great – and that was definitely due to nerves. We met as a team after the third game, we were 1-2, and we decided to try and loosen up and enjoy the moment. I think that definitely helped.”

In fact, as Gates and her mates started to string together the victories, the local woman could sense a turning of the tides. “Against B.C., we were down 6-3,” she recalled. “The last half of that game, we picked it up and I made quite a few key draws. It kind of brought me back to provincial finals where I did the same thing for the team, helping us get into good position.”

“I think that's when it hit me that I do belong there and that I could make the shots.”

While Gates did explain that the award is essentially a statistically-based recognition, and that there are some challenges in looking to ensure its complete validity - “all of the statisticians are volunteers and so it's not always the most accurate, like when our coach charts our stats” - she went on to note that in her case in particular, as a mid-season replacement on the team, the honour was much appreciated.

“I think for me it was really important because I wanted to make sure that the team wasn't going to skip a beat, or anything, with me in the lineup. At the end of the day, we didn't win (the Scotties), so I can't honestly say that I was the best second that was there. Making the big shots at the right time can more more important than having a really good week.”

Much closer to home, the Lockerby Composite boys/mixed curling team came up less than an inch short on a final draw to claiming the NOSSA banner, losing 8-7 to Superior Heights from Sault Ste Marie.

Abby Deschene, Ben O'Connor, Ian Deschene, Troy Kirkwood, Jordan Shelp and Caston Antonio donned the Vikings' colours.

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