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Fierce competiton
Close games mark finals in Merchants' Mixed Bonspiel

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 6, 2014

There was plenty of action to keep the fans in the Fort Simpson curling lounge on the edge of their seats and pressed up against the windows as they watched the finals in the Merchants' Mixed Bonspiel on Feb. 2.

nnsl photo

Lee Scobie of the team Poor Lee slides out with a rock during an A event game against the Brooms of Mordor on Feb. 1. Poor Lee went on to compete in the A event finals. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

On the ice sheets below the last games in the A and C events were unfolding simultaneously. In the A finals, an opening lead by Poor Lee was slowly eroded by Team Pilling.

Skip Michael Rowe, Dean Austin, Lee Scobie and Ryan Petrie, of Poor Lee, came out strong, taking three points in the first end and stealing two in the second for a 5-0 lead. Team Pilling, with skip Roger Pilling, Roxanna Thompson, Travis MacQuarrie and Val Gendron, took two in the third, but Poor Lee came back with one in the sixth to stay ahead 6-2.

"The whole thing in the final was not giving up," Pilling said.

The team kept plugging away and counted on catching a few breaks and making our own shots, he said. The strategy started to work in the fifth end as the team took one and then stole another one in each of the next two ends.

After Team Pilling got one more point in the eight end, it tied the score and forced the game into an extra end.

"It was extremely close. It couldn't get any closer," Pilling said about the final end.

With the spectators watching anxiously, Rowe sent his final rock, the hammer, down the ice to where Team Pilling was counting two. Although Rowe bumped his own rock back to become the second rock, it wasn't enough to take out Pilling's shot rock. The final score was 7-6 for Team Pilling.

"It was just an amazing game to play," Rowe said.

"It was really close. That's the way a final should be."

Both Team Pilling and Poor Lee were undefeated going into the finals. Rowe said all of his team's games had been close and had gone the full eight ends.

"Everyone played really well," he said.

"Lee was great with draws, Ryan was the take out master and Dean was the anchor."

On the other sheet, the C event finals were also a nail-biter. Dean Pickering, Brenda Moreau, Joey Klein and Kelley Andrews-Klein of the Flintstones were up 2-0 at the end of the second. Off the Rocks, a young team comprised of high school students Robert Harold, Mary Drake, Ivor Cli-Norwegian and Reannda Cli, came back to get a point in each of the next four ends, turning the score 4-2 in their favour.

Although the Flintstones got one point in the seventh end, Off the Rocks countered with another in the eighth to win the game 5-3.

"I felt pretty happy considering we just came in for fun," said Harold, the team's skip.

None of the members of Off the Rocks had curled since elementary school. Harold said what they'd learned about the sport came back to them in the first few games and that they had so much fun they plan to enter the Friday night league.

First place in the B event went to the Sweeping Beauties earlier in the day. The team played a close game against Team Munro, which went into a ninth end, to make it to the finals. The two games were back to back giving skip Vanessa Murtsell, Laurie Nadia, Alison Brown and Julia Tsetso five hours on the ice. In the finals, the women took an early lead, but PR Contracting came back in the in the fifth end to tie the game. Despite getting a few more points skip Neil Mitchell, Sheldon Brown, Terry Jaffray and Joanne Peterson were unable to pull ahead giving the Beauties a 9-8 win.

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