Likely wins P.E.I. Tankard

Af­ter­noon game needed to de­cide Scot­ties cham­pi­onship

Journal Pioneer - - SPORTS - BY ERIC MCCARTHY [email protected]­nal­pi­oneer.com

John Likely will be skip­ping a P.E.I. Tankard cham­pion team at the Tim Hor­tons Brier for the first time since 2002.

Likely, who filled out his team with third stone An­son Car­mody, sec­ond stone Steve Burgess, lead Rob­bie Do­herty and al­ter­nate Matthew Nabu­urs, fought back from a 4-2 deficit at the fifth-end break to tie his game against twotime de­fend­ing cham­pion Eddie MacKen­zie 5-5 in the eighth end. MacKen­zie blanked the ninth to main­tain the ham­mer head­ing home, but his last-rock at­tempt at run­ning back one of his own guards over-curled and Likely stole the end for a 6-5 win.

Likely lost last year’s fi­nal to MacKen­zie.

“I owed him one,” Likely com­mented. Do­herty and Nabu­urs were with MacKen­zie when he won the 2017 ti­tle.

Go­ing into Sun­day’s play­off game at the West­ern Com­mu­nity Curl­ing Club with just one loss, Likely knew MacKen­zie would need to beat him twice to keep the ti­tle, and he ad­mit­ted af­ter the game it was look­ing dif­fer­ent times like there’d be a win­ner­take-all fi­nal.

Likely made an at­tempt at a dif­fi­cult in-off in the fifth, which would have given him four points if he made it, but his rock sailed through the house with­out con­tact, al­low­ing MacKen­zie a steal for a 4-2 lead.

Scot­ties

Suzanne Birt won the P.E.I. Scot­ties pro­vin­cial women’s curl­ing cham­pi­onship on Sun­day af­ter­noon. Birt, who edged Sarah Fuller­ton 7-6 in the first play­off game Sun­day morn­ing, de­feated Veron­ica Smith 10-4 in the fi­nal. Birt scored three deuces and one three-en­der en route to the eight-end win.

A story on Birt’s vic­tory will ap­pear in Tues­day’s Jour­nal Pi­o­neer print edi­tion.

Against Fuller­ton, Birt scored two in the ninth to go up 7-4. Af­ter two at­tempts at dou­bles with Birt’s 10th-end stones only got clear of one rock each time, Fuller­ton was left with a draw to the eight-foot to tie the game, but her rock found some fast ice and slid too far to force an ex­tra end.

The women’s cham­pion rep­re­sents P.E.I. at the Scot­ties Tour­na­ment of Hearts na­tional cham­pi­onship in Syd­ney, N.S., next month.

10th end

In the 10th end of the Tankard fi­nal, MacKen­zie’s lead, Sean Ledger­wood, put a rock on the back of the but­ton. Burgess and Car­mody would later freeze on top of it while leav­ing the MacKen­zie stone as shot rock.

A Tyler MacKen­zie at­tempt to cor­ner freeze onto the Likely stones af­ter a pair of dou­ble peels didn’t work, went heavy and set up be­side their own shot rock. Likely seized the op­por­tu­nity to blast them both although he did leave a MacKen­zie stone at the back of the house. Eddie MacKen­zie, who al­most cleaned the house on his first at­tempt, chose to run back his own guard with ham­mer but it just missed the tar­get.

“To be hon­est with you, I wasn’t even watch­ing. I just asked An­son, ‘How’s it look?’ and he said, ‘It looks good,’ and then it must’ve curled a lit­tle bit,” Likely said of the game’s ul­ti­mate out­come. “We stayed pa­tient. Ev­ery game we stayed pa­tient,” Likely said in de­scrib­ing the key to his team’s suc­cess in Al­ber­ton. “A lot of games we were down and we stayed pa­tient ev­ery game. “And the boys re­ally started play­ing re­ally, re­ally strong.” MacKen­zie knows how close he came to forc­ing an ex­tra play­off game.

“One mil­lime­tre or less,” he said. “A hair.”

Three dou­ble-peel at­tempts failed to work, he ac­knowl­edged.

“That’s the way it goes some­times,” added MacKen­zie. “We were look­ing pretty good all game to win and didn’t fin­ish.”

MacKen­zie sug­gested he was up against a stronger Likely rink this year with Car­mody and Burgess join­ing the team.

ERIC MCCARTHY/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Bill Smith, left, rep­re­sent­ing the P.EI. Curl­ing As­so­ci­a­tion con­grat­u­lates the John Likely rink of, from left: Likely, An­son Car­mody, Steve Burgess, Rob­bie Do­herty and Matthew Nabu­urs on win­ning the 2019 P.E.I. Tankard pro­vin­cial men’s curl­ing cham­pi­onship in Al­ber­ton on Sun­day.

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