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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
A second national title in the same season for Team Croisier
2019-04-12
by Randy Pascal

Arguably, there could not have been a much better wrap to the 2018-2019 curling season, either for Team Croisier or the Northern Ontario curling contingent, in general, than the gold medal encounter from the Canadian U18 Curling Championships in Sherwood Park (Alberta) last week.

Just months after reigning supreme at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer (Alberta), the Idylwylde Golf & Country Club quartet of Bella Croisier, Jamie Smith, Piper Croisier and Lauren Rajala duplicated the feat in an equally challenging field, downing Ontario (Emily Deschenes) 6-2 in the final at U18 nationals to cap off a run of nine straight wins.

Ironically, the bonspiel did not start particularly well for the NOCA champs, dropping an 8-6 decision in the opening draw to Julia Bakos and her Alberta 2 rink, with the latter scoring two with the hammer in the eighth and final end for the win.

That, however, would be the one and only time the pride of Sudbury would taste defeat, running an impressive streak from April 3rd to the 7th. That sequence kicked off with some come-from-behind drama, Team Croisier down 4-1 in the fourth end before scoring four in the fifth against Saskatchewan (Emily Haupstein) and adding three more in the seventh en route to a 9-6 triumph.

A similar M.O. versus Cally Moore of Nova Scotia later in the day two as Croisier and company spot their opponents an early 3-0 lead before roaring back with a run of 1-1-1-2, surrendering one in the seventh and running Moore out of rocks in the eighth in preserving a 5-4 win.

That ability to pull away at some point was prevalent again in game four as Northern Ontario breaks a 2-2 deadlock with a sequence of 1-2-1, doubling Lauren Ferguson of Prince Edward Island 6-3 in their only encounter on Wednesday.

A very familiar foe opened day four of competition for the local girls, who dueled the Manotick (Ontario) rink skipped by Emily Deschenes into a 5-4 extra end victory in a contest that featured no ends with greater than a single point being scored. A steal in the first end by Croisier, and another in the fourth, allowed the accomplished Idylwylde curlers to hold the hammer in the ninth and deciding end.

As expected, the eventual gold medal winners closed out round robin play with an easy 15-2 thumping of Katarina Anderson (Yukon), putting seven up on the board in the first end and never looking back.

Perhaps the most impressive display for Team Croisier came in the final two days of playoff competition. Needing two wins to advance directly to the semi-finals, the combination of Marymount/Lo-Ellen/Lasalle student athletes racked up back to back 7-4 wins.

Up 3-0 on Kaila Buchy of British Columbia after three ends, the Croisier foursome added another three in the sixth, increasing their lead to 6-2 and creating something of a footprint for their second game later on Friday.

Knotted in a 3-3 tie with New Brunswick (Melodie Forsythe), Northern Ontario counted three with the hammer in five, adding a steal in the sixth to move to within a game of a berth in the championship affair.

That dream became a reality in a rematch with Forsythe, who worked her way back in a double knockout format and was leading Croisier 4-3 after six ends of their penultimate match-up. Once again, however, the big game experience of the Sudbury squad paid dividends, as the green and gold scored two with hammer in seven and closed things off with a steal of two in the eighth, making it three straight 7-4 scores to their credit.

Yet another rematch, and a tough one, as Deschenes and her Ontario reps create an intra-provincial gold medal battle. Tied 1-1 after three ends, the Croisier crew produced another key run, securing the lead this time with a three end stretch of 1-2-2 and tripling the Ottawa and area curlers 6-2 when all was said and done.

Back in Northern Ontario, a couple more curling tidbits to round out the weekly columns for the season, with the announcement, earlier this winter, of the return of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling to the backyard of the NOCA. Building off the success of the 2018 Women’s World Curling Championship, the folks in North Bay will welcome the country’s best curling talent to the Gateway City from October 22nd to the 27th for the Canadian Beef Masters stop on the GSC Tour.

Looking to garner an entry to that event, undoubtedly, is a slightly altered men’s quartet representing Curl Sudbury next year. With Jordan Chandler stepping away from the competitive scene with his recent traditional team, the familiar front-end of Luc Ouimet and Lee Toner will see recently crowned NOCA Mixed champion Sandy MacEwan shift from vice to skip, with long-time Copper Cliff Club member Dustin Montpellier jumping aboard and throwing third.

While that puts a bow on Randy in the Rings for a few months, curlers and club officials are still encouraged to forward any information regarding the 2019-2020 season to Randy Pascal at info@sudburysports.com.

This would obviously help us, in this corner, hit the new year up and running, as we are more than certain will be the case for dozens of the talented Sudbury-based curlers come the fall.

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