By Josh Howald
Four teams remain, and one is losing its skip.
Les Shane and Steve Gregg both won quarter-final contests last week, as expected. However, the first and second place teams in Grey-Bruce Major League Curling were knocked off in a night of upsets at the Kincardine Curling Club.
Wade Walsh’s Bluewater rink – which won a Week 11 tie-breaker to get the eighth and final playoff spot – knocked off top seed Jeff Thomson by a 7-4 score. Thomson finished first overall in the regular season with an 8-2 record, but lost his third game at a bad time. And just a few feet away, seventh place Curtis Cassidy upset Al Hutchinson’s second place RAM Promotional rink. Cassidy knocked out the former league champ 9-5.
“It happens,” said Shane of the upsets.
“Hutch was in control all game, but then Cassidy took a three-ender in the seventh. Basically, Hutch was down one with the hammer, and just couldn’t tie it up.”
Hutchinson, Thomson, Don Bartley and Tom Slumskie will now play in a very competitive B Divison playoff, while Shane, Cassidy, Walsh and Gregg will compete for a league title. Shane defeated Bartley’s Bluewater rink 7-4 earlier in the week, while Gregg posted a narrow 3-2 win over Tara’s Tom Slumskie at the Kincardine Curling Club.
With the two top teams gone, it appeared a door may have opened for the Kincardine BDO Canada rink. But the skip is going to use that door to leave the country.
“Anybody can win,” said Shane. “The top two teams in the league won’t be there.”
Neither will Shane. Kincardine’s skip will head for South America today (Wednesday) for a cruise, and will miss tonight’s semi-final draw, as well as next week’s championship night at the Port Elgin Curling Club.
“They will have to do it without me,” said Shane.
“We started this team with five players for a reason, and John D. Matheson will be taking care of things for me while I’m gone.”
With Gregg the high seed remaining (#3), it is thought his Paisley team will take on Walsh. That would leave Matheson to lead Kincardine against Cassidy tonight at the Bluewater Curling Club in Owen Sound. The B Division teams will also be in action tonight at the Bluewater club, with all four games beginning at 9 p.m.
Next week’s championship games will be played at the Port Elgin Curling Club.
In other local curling news, Shane went 3-2 at the Regional Championships Saturday in Teeswater. Both games his team dropped were to Jim Brackett’s rink from Chatham, which went on to win the event and qualify for the provincial championships in early March.
“We had two extra end wins (on the weekend),” said Shane. “We played pretty well until the last game, and you could say we just ran out of gas.”
The women’s regional title was won by Beth Gregg – who is married to Steve and also plays on the team that will be in action in at tonight’s semi-finals.