Likely wins P.E.I. Tankard
Afternoon game needed to decide Scotties championship
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.
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.
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.
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.