Ottawa-area curlers make it to Canadian championships
BY JOE PAVIA
Jean-Michel Menard from Gatineau squeaked his way through the Quebec Tankard to advance to his 10th Brier. (Mike Drew/Postmedia Network)
OTTAWA — – The national stage beckons.
Ottawa-area curlers earned their way forward to national competition on the weekend.
Jean-Michel Menard from Gatineau squeaked his way through the Quebec Tankard but had to rely on help from others as well as win seven games in a row to make the final.
Two more curlers, one from Gatineau and one from Manotick, Lauren Mann and Trish Hill, respectively, claimed the Quebec Scotties crown after completing a seven-game undefeated round-robin run.
Meanwhile, the Russell foursome of Bruce Delaney, Rick Bachand, Brian Henderson and Dave Stanley took their second Ontario Masters title in Glencoe.
Menard did it “by the back door” as he put it. In the round-robin portion of the event his team was 3 and 3.
“We weren’t playing all that well but we weren’t playing all that bad during the qualification process,” Menard said. “Our luck factor was zero. Our opponents were making shot after shot.”
For instance in his last round-robin game against Robert Desjardins, Desjardins “took out 22 rocks in the game — two triples and six doubles and he also had to draw the pin a couple of times.”
The squad was ready to pack it in but the winless Dale Ness won his last game, which forced a tiebreaker.
“It gave us a new life. When we got that extra life is gave us new life,” Menard said.
They then rattled off seven straight victories to advance to their fifth straight Brier as a team. This will be Menard’s 10th Brier appearance. “I surprise myself.”
On the women’s side, the contrast couldn’t be more pronounced. Team Eve Belisle went undefeated to get the trip to St. Catharines. The rookie Scotties player is second Trish Hill. She says she is excited “just a little.” Mann and Hill drove back together.
“It was nice driving home with Lauren,” Hill said. “I kind of quizzed her all the way home about what’s happening next. Just the excitement and coming down and driving for four hours. It was nice to chat.”
According to Mann, “Oh my God, she’s going to drive us all nuts that one. She is so excited. She is just so excited.”
She’s looking forward to her Scotties experience.
“I think I will be more excited when we are ready for the experience to start when we actually get to the Scotties.”
Hill was married in September. Her new husband Jamie Shantz came and watched them before in other events but we never won a game she recalled. He went to Levis to watch the end of the week.
“He was really nervous coming to watch,” Hill said. “He didn’t even text me that morning to wish me good luck before the last game because he didn’t want to mess with anything we were doing before the game.”
Hill thinks this has been a big year for her.
Her friend Mann is looking forward to her second Scotties and just curling.
“I just like playing,” Mann said. “It’s an experience; there’s lot of fun around it. But I just like playing.”
There’s a contrast to her first time when she skipped.
“This time around, I am with people I know,” Mann said. “They were great people but I really didn’t know them that well. But this time I have played with Trish for years. And Brit and I was have played together for three years. Eve is new to most of us but we have gelled together.”
The Tim Hortons Brier begins March 4 in St. John’s, NL, while the Scotties begins Feb. 18.
In December, Team Gray from Perth won the TCA U18 tournament. They were Kayla Gray, Mikayla Gemmill, Chelsea Ferrier and Morgan Typhair.
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