Big end for McLennan in mixed final

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The Doug McLennan rink hurried hard to get the job done at the St. Albert mixed bonspiel.

Sunday’s 8-3 result in the A final against Ferd Caron was the fifth game that didn’t go the eight-end distance for McLennan, third Holly Jamieson, second Colin Jenkyns and lead Christina Monk.

“We just played it one end at a time,” said Jamieson, a U21 Canadian and world champion in 2015 as the second with the Kelsey Rocque rink who was recruited by McLennan for the bonspiel.

“Our weekend was really good,” Jamieson added. “It’s nice to kind of put it all together.”

It was handshake time when McLennan’s hit and stick for the five-spot in six sealed the deal against Caron.

“It was a good game. It was tied up after five and if I had just squeezed by a guard we’ve got a good chance to steal one in the sixth but instead I just nicked it to give them an opportunity to finish the game off,” Caron said.

A clutch double by the sharp-shooting Jamieson with her first delivery in six set the stage for the big end.

“It was kind of an inside in off double. I just tried to throw normal weight, don’t over throw it and not over-think it,” Jamieson said of the bing-bang play to take away shot rock from Caron.

With skip rocks, Caron’s draw against several McLennan rocks produced the second counter and McLennan replied with a hit and roll that rolled a tad too much to set up a potential double.

Caron’s last rock, despite strong sweeping by Rica Caron and Neil McKay, was unable to slide to its point of arrival and McLennan made no mistake with two counters already in place to score five.

“Curling against Doug is always a pleasure and always hard work . You have to make every shot count,” said Caron, who lost the 2016 President’s Cup final in the tiebreaker against McLennan and surrendered the winning point in the 2015 A-B final and Jenkyns’ skipping the McLennan rink with the St. Albert Curling Club’s eighth wall of fame inductee competing at the Canadian senior (50-plus) championships during the St. Albert club mixed playoffs.

McLennan was also the finalist in the 3 Son’s Tire & Auto Centre Men’s Bonspiel in November, a 6-2 loss to the St. Albert U18 rink skipped by Nathan Molberg, with a veteran lineup compared to his young crew in the weekend mixer.

The Friday mixed league foes started off the final with McLennan settling for one in the opening end and Caron matched the score in two.

McLennan’s last shot in three produced a deuce with a chip shot off a Caron rock for the second point.

Caron rallied with a hit and stick for one in four and the next end profited from McLennan’s close call to eliminate the shot rock for the steal of one to even the score at three.

“We definitely built on some of our misses,” Jamieson said. “We had an opportunity in the first end and I think we didn’t let it get to our heads. We tried to stay patient and obviously it paid off in the sixth end.”

Caron, who benefited from Kim Zsakai’s competitive circuit experience as the team’s new third, mowed down Baird, Wilson and Klatchuk in the 22-rink draw before matching wits with McLennan, a two-time Alberta senior champion with rinks skipped by Wade White in 2013 and Glen Hansen in 2015. At nationals, White was awarded bronze and Hansen finished fourth with McLennan as their third.

“It was one of our better games but it wasn’t the best game,” Caron said of the final.

The road to the final for McLennan, the mixed winner at the Edmonton and area Tournament of Champions in 2010 and 2015, included victories against Rogers, Gunderson, Davis and Pudlowski.

“This was our best competition and we rose to the challenge,” said Jamieson, the finalist in the St. Albert women’s bonspiel in November as the skip for third Sally Korol, second Nyla Kurylowich of Sturgeon County and lead Klara Smiley, who filled in for Andrea Scott on the Wednesday league rink at the Jasper Place Curling Club.

The Jamieson foursome and coach Taina Smiley are preparing for the Canada Deaf Games for deaf and hard of hearing athletes, Feb. 19 to 24 in Winnipeg, for qualification for the 10th Winter Deaflympics in 2019 in Torino, Italy. They were bronze medallists at the 2017 World Deaf Curling Championships in Sochi, Russia.

Jamieson, an assistant junior coach and icemaker at the St. Albert club, was diagnosed with hearing loss in both ears as a young child.

She recently competed at her first Alberta Scotties as the third for the Jessie Hunkin rink of the Avonair as the Northern Alberta Curling Association’s B-event qualifiers.

Men’s masters

Caron and McKay, an honorary St. Albert club life member, are back on the ice today for the northern men’s masters (60-plus) playdowns in St. Albert.

McKay is the skip and Caron is the lead (“It’s the best position,” Caron said) for the St. Albert rink that includes Don Johnson and Richard Davis.

“We’ve been practicing a little bit throwing some rocks. We’re starting to feel comfortable at our positions and we’re looking forward to it,” Caron said. “It will be very finesse curling. Lots of draws and not that much heavy takeouts.”

The 15-rink draw includes local rinks skipped by Al Edwards (Neil Flemming, Brian Kupsch, John Wainwright and alternate Len Sterling) and Gary Greening (Dale Briske, Rick Dallyn, Doug de Bruijn and alternate Grant Cook).

John Cabaj, Lionel Chartrand, Dale Fellows, Vernon Hafso, Lyle Lorenz, Orv MacDonald, Rick McKague, Keith Morgan, Dave Olsen, Don Sutton, James Urlacher and Dave Zesko also have rinks entered at northerns.

“We’ve played against a number of these teams in the past,” Caron said. “We’re familiar with a lot of the teams and it’s going to be good seeing all those old buddies again.”

Draw times are 2 p.m. today and 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The finals are 2 p.m. Friday (A event), Saturday (B event) and Sunday (C event).

Visit www.northernalbertacurling.com for results.

Provincials are Feb. 21 to 25 in Stettler and nationals are April 1 to 8 in Surrey/White Rock, B.C.

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About Author

Jeff Hansen

Jeff Hansen joined the St. Albert Gazette in 1991. He writes about sports, athletes and teams from St. Albert and area.