By Tim Gall
Kingtson, Ont. – Even had they managed to knock off the strong second-place Ontario squad Friday afternoon, the Suzanne Birt team representing Prince Edward Island would have missed the weekend playoff round at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
The game against Ontario, which entered the contest with an 8-1 record, was rendered meaningless earlier in the day when B.C. won its game – officially ending P.E.I.’s playoff chances.
Birt and her Charlottetown Curling Complex team of Shelly Bradley, Sarah Fullerton, and Leslie MacDougall also got a win in the morning draw to improve to 5-5. The win was an 8-4 decision over Alberta as the Birt team broke a 4-4 deadlock by stealing three points in the eighth. Another stolen point in nine salted the game away.
In the afternoon, the Birt unit couldn’t keep up with Ontario, which scored five in the first two ends and ran away with a 10-2 victory. P.E.I. could only manage single points in the third and sixth ends. Alternate Stefanie Clark got some action in the last part of the game.
Her rink, Birt said, was disappointed to miss the playoff round.
“We had our ups and downs,” the skip said following the loss. “It was a long week, and we were glad to get that fifth win (in the) morning and we played against a tough team this afternoon, so we can’t complain about the results for the week. We would have liked to have done better, but...”
Birt added she was proud of team for battling back after a tough start to the tournament.
“When you go 0-3 to start off and reel off five wins at the end, it’s a pretty impressive performance.”
Birt thought the team missed some chances during the week. “A few games could have gone either way. That’s curling,” she pointed out.
There really wasn’t any loss during the week that turned the tide against the team, Birt explained.
“Maybe all of them... You don’t like to have any losses, but we had some really strong games and we lost, and some without such a strong performance and we won.”
The 5-6 record left P.E.I in seventh place. Several other teams still had evening games to play Friday night, but the playoff picture was fairly clear.
Manitoba and Ontario will play in the 1-2 page playoff game Saturday as Manitoba had a 10-0 record and Ontario was 9-1, each with a game to play. Team Canada and B.C. had 7-3 records, while Saskatchewan was 6-4.
A Saskatchewan win Friday night combined with a loss from either B.C. or Team Canada would force a tie-breaking situation for the last two spots. No other team had a chance to reach the playoffs. New Brunswick was set to finish in sixth with a 6-5 record, just ahead of P.E.I. Five other teams were behind the Birt squad heading into the evening games.