Surviving the incredible clutter of teams that was the championship pool at the 2022 Canadian Mixed Curling Championships in Prince Albert (SK) this week, the Northern Ontario rink of Trevor Bonot, Jackie McCormick, Mike McCarville and local pride Amanda Gates battled their way through to the final four.
Beaten 7-5 in their final round robin game opposite the Northwest Territories and skip Jamie Koe, the Thunder Bay foursome (with a Sudbury flavour) came up big in the semi-finals, edging N.W.T. 6-5 by taking advantage of hammer in the eighth and final end to register the game-winning point.
Unfortunately, rising up to the challenge of an equally intense gold medal encounter simply was not to be as the Québec rink skipped by Félix Asselin, the same squad that topped the standings with a combined record of 8-2, blitzed the northerners early, up 9-0 after three ends and easing their way to a 10-3 triumph.
While both Québec (8-2) and the N.W.T. (7-3) created a little separation in the standings, the balance of the top-eight could not have been a whole lot 'more closely bunched.
Northern Ontario, British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan all posted records of 6-4 with both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia just one game back at 5-5.
This likely came as little surprise to Bonot and Gates and their mates, the same crew that represented the NOCA at mixed nationals 2021 last fall in Canmore (Alberta), an event where they also posted a very respectable record of 6-4.
That said, with both Bonot and McCormick having donned the maple leaf at Mixed Worlds in the past, the end result will be disapointing, if only because of the lack of a close, competitive game on the biggest of stages.
Still, twelve other teams will head home today having ranked behind the silver medal winners who are almost certainly going to look to draw on their second place finish as motivation when mixed provincials take place from March 29th to April 2nd, 2023.
Of course, those playdowns are set to follow directly on the heels of the U Sports / CCAA Curling Championships (March 15th-19th, 2023) as well as Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship (March 21st - 26th, 2023), both of which are set to take place in Sudbury.