SUMMERSIDE — Rod MacDonald’s path to the playoffs hit a major speed bump Friday night, when his P.E.I. rink lost to Newfoundland and Labrador’s Glen Goss.
That forced the Islanders into a tiebreaker with Ontario’s Howard Rajala foursome this morning.
It’s a rematch of Friday morning’s round-robin game, which P.E.I. won 8-7.
Meanwhile, Alberta’s Wade White solidified his second-place finish with a 9-6 win over Northern Ontario’s Bruce Munro, and will advance to the semifinal.
Rajala cruised past Quebec’s Rob Maclean 10-2, putting himself in a position to force a tiebreaker, if Newfoundland and Labrador could defeat P.E.I.
Rajala’s hopes came down to Newfoundland and Labrador’s final toss, with P.E.I. sitting a heavily-guarded shot rock.
Newfoundland and Labrador third stone Geoff Cunningham stepped up to throw last rock, as he had all game.
The packed crowd at the Silver Fox Curling and Yacht Club collectively held their breath and moved to the edge of their seats as the stone curled perfectly around the guards, past shot rock and onto the button.
All P.E.I. third John Likely could do was stand there and admire the shot.
“He went way out wide and made a great draw,” Likely said. “We lost to a great team, a team that was the runner-up in Canada last year.”
There was a mixture of cheers and groans across the room, but nobody could help but clap for the shot.
“I’m all for P.E.I., but that was one heck of a shot,” one lady remarked as she shook her head and clapped.
Rajala stood near the edge of the room and watched in anticipation. Afterwards, he could hardly wipe the smile off his face.
“Oh boy, it’s a rollercoaster ride here,” he said. “We’re still hanging in there.”
His Ontario squad started off the tournament on a tear, going unbeaten through their first five games, even handing first-place New Brunswick its only loss. They ran into trouble later on, however, being handily beaten by Nova Scotia and getting edged out by Alberta for back-to-back losses.
“It’s a long week, and you’re not going to play 100 per cent every game,” he said. “We had our struggles in a few games, but we played a good game there. So hopefully we can continue momentum.”
Wade White’s Alberta squad will get a well-deserved break Saturday morning as they secured their spot in the evening semifinal. The White rink has won seven straight games, with their only losses coming to MacDonald and New Brunswick’s Wayne Tallon.
Alberta lead George Parsons said it was tough to not look around the rink on Friday night, due to the consequences of the MacDonald-Goss game for them.
“We tried not to (look around),” he said. “But with the one game there that could give us second, we glanced over every now and then to make sure (N.L.) were still winning.”
No matter what the result of the tiebreaker is, Parsons expects an exciting matchup Saturday night.
”They’re both really good teams, so it doesn’t matter which one gets in there,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough battle.”
Regardless of the pressure or the ramifications, Likely said the Island squad won’t be overthinking things.
“We’re just going to go out and throw our rocks, and see where they go,” he said.
The men’s and women’s tiebreakers will get underway at 9 a.m., with the women’s semifinal taking place at 2:30 p.m. and then men at 7 p.m.
THE CANADIAN PRESS
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — Final standings Friday following draw 18 at the 2013 Canadian senior men’s curling championship to be held through Sunday (all times Eastern):
Province (Skip) W L
x-New Brunswick (Tallon) 10 1
y-Alberta (White) 9 2
t-P.E.I. (MacDonald) 8 3
t-Ontario (Rajala) 8 3
Nova Scotia (O’Leary) 6 5
Quebec (MacLean) 5 6
Manitoba (Sigurdson) 5 6
B.C. (C.Lepine) 4 7
Saskatchewan (Bell) 4 7
N.L. (Goss) 4 7
Northern Ont. (Munro) 3 8
NWT (Hudy) 0 11
x — clinched berth in championship game. y — clinched semifinal berth. t — will play tiebreaker.
Alberta 8 Saskatchewan 7
Northern Ontario 14 Northwest Territories 4
New Brunswick 7 Manitoba 4
Nova Scotia 6 Quebec 5 (extra end)
British Columbia 9 Newfoundland & Labrador 8 (extra end)
P.E.I. 8 Ontario 7
Manitoba 11 Nova Scotia 8
Newfoundland & Labrador 7 P.E.I. 6
Ontario 10 Quebec 2
Alberta 9 Northern Ontario 6
Saskatchewan 10 Northwest Territories 3
New Brunswick 11 British Columbia 6
End of Round Robin
Alberta 8 Manitoba 7 (extra end)
New Brunswick 7 Quebec 6
Newfoundland & Labrador 10 Northern Ontario 4
Ontario 10 British Columbia 6
P.E.I. 7 Northwest Territories 1
Saskatchewan 10 Nova Scotia 5
New Brunswick 9 Northern Ontario 6
Ontario 11 Saskatchewan 7
Alberta 7 British Columbia 5
Manitoba 11 Newfoundland & Labrador 1
P.E.I. 8 Nova Scotia 6
Quebec 10 Northwest Territories 5
P.E.I. (MacDonald) vs. Ontario (Rajala), 9 a.m.
Alberta (White) vs. P.E.I.-Ontario winner, 8 p.m.
New Brunswick (Tallon) vs. Semifinal Winner, 12 noon