The President’s Cup mixed final was a heavyweight bout between two rinks slugging it out for playoff honours at the St. Albert Curling Club.
The rematch of last year’s club championship was decided with the last rock in Thursday’s tiebreaker, as Doug McLennan dislodged Ferd Caron’s shot stone to count one in eight to win 7-5.
An extra game was required in the double-knockout draw after McLennan rallied from a 6-4 deficit by counting two in eight and stealing the winning point in nine in Tuesday’s A-B final.
“They were absolutely great games. Shots back and forth. Everybody was at the top of their game. There were no real breaks to be had. Everybody had to be right there in it and make every shot count in order to get through it,” said Colin Jenkyns, the second for McLennan. “They made tons of shots in both contests and luckily enough we were able to make one more to come out on top.”
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Caron had McLennan pinned against the ropes Tuesday but couldn’t land the knockout punch after scoring three in the third end to make it 4-1 and in seven stole one to lead by two.
“It was a tough loss but we come back and gave it a good fight. We were in it tonight,” said Caron, who admitted it was difficult to regroup after McLennan pulled out the 7-6 victory from the jaws of defeat. “There was a bit of a struggle but we said let’s just play as good as we can and I’m happy with the game we played.”
McLennan, third Allison Howes and Jenkyn’s sister, Lauren, at lead got back on track Tuesday with a steal of two in five to knot it at four. A hit and stick for two by McLennan with last shot in eight set the stage for a dramatic extra end as Caron was only able to rearrange one of two shot rocks with his final throw.
“I guess the key was really getting the rocks in a good set-up position and we were just able to get a couple of misses out of Ferd that allowed us to come out on top,” Jenkyns said.
Both rinks had slightly different lineups in Thursday’s season finale.
Laurie Conrad was brought on board from the President’s Cup women’s team skipped by Lauren with Howes on spring break and threw lead rocks as Lauren was promoted to third.
John McKenzie joined lead Rica Caron and third Wendy Milan on the Caron squad with second Neil McKay, an honorary club life member, unavailable.
In the first end, McLennan had a four-ended shaping up before Caron’s last shot left him lying two and his hit and stick with the hammer resulted in a three-spot on the scoreboard.
Caron pulled even with a deuce in two and a steal of one in three. The teams exchanged singles the next two ends before McLennan’s deuce in six made it 6-4.
Caron replied with a hit and stick for one in seven and in eight had rocks almost side by side for McLennan to move around with his first shot and wound up having second shot rock.
Caron was lying one with his last shot but his draw was too heavy to be the third shot rock.
McLennan then struck Caron’s shot rock for his ninth President’s Cup in 10 years and fifth in a row with Howes and the Jenkyns.
“I wouldn’t really say there was a turning point in the game because it came right down to the last shot but I would say starting off with an opening three in the first end was huge for us just to get that one step up,” Jenkyns said.
Caron was gracious in defeat.
“Doug’s team was just right on with their hits all night long and we couldn’t get them in the right spots but they played really well.”
Last year in the A-B final, Caron was unlucky with his last shot as McLennan stole the winning point in the extra end. Jenkyns was the skip in 6-5 outcome with McLennan curling with the Team Alberta rink skipped by Glen Hansen at the national seniors (50-plus) championships at the Thistle.
When asked if losing this year was tougher than last year, Caron replied: “A little bit, especially the Tuesday game because he had to beat us twice and he did.”
McLennan started off the playoffs with a loss to Warren Sadoway and it didn’t help that Jenkyns was unable to play in the contest.
“Obviously I should’ve been here for that game. I guess I will take that one on my shoulders,” Jenkyns said with a laugh.
In the B bracket, McLennan polished off Team Bazzarelli, Dave Klatchuk, Wilf Gunderson and Sadoway for another date with Caron, who reached the final with victories against Gunderson, Klatchuk and Sadoway.
“We had a pretty good season. We won the mixed (St. Albert bonspiel) this year, which was the first time for me, and we were first in our (Friday night) league and then runners-up in the mixed finals,” Caron said. “It’s kind of disappointing this is the last game but it’s been a full season and we’re extremely happy with the way we performed.”
McLennan’s Thursday night league rink will now defend its city crown at the 53rd annual Edmonton and area Tournament of Champions at the Edmonton Garrison Memorial Golf & Curling Club. The first game is April 11 against the Thistle at 8:45 p.m.
“It was certainly our goal coming into this year to get back there and have the opportunity to defend the title that we won last year,” Jenkyns said.
McLennan, who was recently inducted in the club’s wall of fame in the Hec Gervais Lounge, also won cities in 2010 and was the finalist in 2013 and 2014.
“The Tournament of Champions is great for league curling and just really that recreational component if you will as opposed to the competitive circuit. It really gives you something to kind of shoot for at the end of every year,” said Jenkyns, who curled in his fourth game in four nights Thursday in the club playoffs, including Wednesday’s loss in the men’s A-B final to Jamie King.