ELMIRA, Ont. — It’s fair to say the average curling fan may not have been all that familiar with the name Team McDonald, despite such a common last name, at this point last week.
Well, here’s a name they are familiar with: Team Ontario.
Scott McDonald and his Kingston-based squad will represent the province at the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier taking place March 2-10 in Brandon, Man.
Team McDonald Hulk-smashed their way through the 10-team field posting a perfect 11-0 record including three back-to-back-to-back victories over Team John Epping of Toronto. McDonald completed the trilogy and capped an unreal tournament for his team with a dominant 8-2 victory over the defending champion Sunday at Woolwich Memorial Centre.
McDonald said it’s pretty special to win the event knowing there are a lot of strong teams from Ontario, heck, just getting to provincials can be problematic — remember zones? Where we’re going we don’t need no zones — and that carries great expectations.
“It’s a grind to get through the provincials,” McDonald said. “You can’t take anyone for granted and there are some strong teams that have come out of the provincials in the past and Team Ontario has some expectation with it.
“That name, when you’re Team Ontario, you have a target on your back. They’ve done well in the past, so we have to make sure that we’re ready in Brandon to make the Ontario fans proud.”
McDonald has no one to thank/blame than his boys for swelling that target to even larger proportions as this week they’ve certainly put the rest of the Brier locker room on notice. Although third Jonathan Beuk, second Wesley Forget and lead Scott Chadwick have played together in the past, and Forget and McDonald together too, this was the first season they competed as a unit. They’ve been flying under the radar and, as it turned out, have been hustling the competition.
“We played really well. We’ve been trending in the right direction all year,” said McDonald, who finished runner-up at the Tour Challenge Tier 2 and competed in the past two Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling majors. “As a new team, you don’t know what to expect.
“We went into this season with cautious optimism knowing that we could perform with the teams at the top level and we’ve consistently proven that we belong in that upper echelon of curling. This is the icing on the cake. It really showed that we can be really consistent over a week-long period and man, to win 11 games in a row, it’s unbelievable.”
The boyhood dream of playing for Team Ontario at the Tim Hortons Brier has now come true for these four players. They have nobody to credit than themselves as this reporter has followed them along on the World Curling Tour this season and seen them put in the hard work and sacrifices in order to bring their game up to the level required to earn a spot among the world’s best.
Now they’ve proven they belong and McDonald said it’s pretty special being able to inspire others that the path to success is possible.
“In Ontario, it’s so tough to get to the Brier,” McDonald said. “I’d be lying if I said I thought that I was always going to get there. Today’s pretty special. It’s a dream come true.
“We’ve put in a lot of work this year and we’re just going to go and really enjoy the experience. We’re going to go there to play well and we’ll set some new expectations now that we’re at the Brier but we’re going to enjoy this. It’s pretty cool.”
Homan wins Ontario Scotties (Saturday, 11:30 p.m. ET)
Rachel Homan and her Ottawa-based club are heading back to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and they’ll be wearing Ontario colours.
Team Homan punched their ticket to the 2019 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, taking place later this month in Sydney, N.S., after bouncing Team Julie Tippin of Woodstock 6-4 in the women’s final of the Ontario provincial curling championships Saturday at Woolwich Memorial Centre.
“It’s amazing,” said Homan, who has now won four Ontario titles to go along with three Canadian championships. “We’re so excited to be able to play in this provincial and be able to represent Ontario. It feels so great to earn your way there. I mean, the wildcard spot was there but we really wanted to win it for our province.”
Same colours, different logos: Team Homan will now swap their red, white and black tour jackets for red, white and black Ontario ones.
“We’re really excited,” Homan said. “We can’t wait to put on Ontario colours and try and represent our province as best as we can.”
Team Tippin punted Team Jestyn Murphy of Mississauga 11-4 in the morning semifinal.
Meanwhile, Team Scott McDonald of Kingston has been on a roll all week and extended their winning streak to 10-0 with a 7-4 victory over Toronto’s Team John Epping in the men’s Tankard Page 1-2 game. McDonald is now just one more win away from heading to the Tim Hortons Brier taking place in March in Brandon, Man.
Epping has another shot to reach Sunday’s championship game with a date against Team Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene in the morning semifinal. Howard made the draw in an extra end for the 7-6 decision to eliminate Team Charley Thomas of Kitchener-Waterloo 7-6 during the Page 3-4 playoff.
Draw 16: McDonald runs the table
Team Scott McDonald completed an undefeated run through pool play in the Ontario provincial curling championships.
McDonald topped the men’s Tankard table at 9-0 following an 8-4 victory over Team John Epping during Friday’s round-robin finale at Woolwich Memorial Centre.
The skip said it felt good to finish first overall in the round-robin, however, it’s clear he knows it’s a whole new ball game now in the playoffs and two wins away from representing the province at the Tim Hortons Brier.
“It’s nice to go through such a strong field undefeated but at the same time, the round-robin is just jockeying for playoff position,” McDonald said. “We’re in the playoffs now, which was goal No. 1 at the beginning of the week. We’re fortunate to have hammer and choice of rocks in Page 1-2, so we have a bit of work to do to figure out what we’re going to do for that and hopefully, we can perform with those rocks.”
Both teams were assured spots in the Page 1-2 playoff game and were essentially deciding who would finish first overall and hold the hammer to start that game. The battle for the hammer turned into its own battle for the hammer with Team McDonald winning the draw-to-the-button shootout to start the playoff preview and allow them to dictate the flow of the game.
“It was big. You want to start off strong and you want to have some limited control of the game going forward,” McDonald said. “Hammer allowed us to go out and execute our game plan from the beginning and we were able to do that. The first end, we still had a shot against a couple points but we left ourselves an opportunity to score, maybe settled the nerves down a little bit and let us go forward in the second end.”
McDonald controlled the game sinking three-pointers like Freddy Van Vleet with his first trey snapping a 1-1 tie in the third (although it could have been for more) and his second coming in the fifth to lead 5-2 at the break. We would have called it halftime to keep with the basketball theme, however, the game only went three more ends with singles alternating back and forth and Epping shaking hands after eight.
“The one back in the third end, we just got a little spot that curled but the team set it up really well in front of me,” McDonald said. “You can never complain about getting a three-ender there against John. They’re such a good team and to position our rocks like that and get them in some trouble.”
Epping struggled with their rocks and McDonald expects that will not be the case when they face Saturday afternoon and, potentially, again in Sunday’s final.
“We know they’re going to come out sharp tomorrow and on the rest of the weekend, so we have to be prepared for that,” McDonald said. “This is just one game against John. We’ve played him several times over the years and we know he’s going to come back stronger and is going to want to beat us so we’re going to have to bring our game as well.”
Elsewhere, No. 3 seed Team Glenn Howard are all tuned up for their Page game following a 9-4 win over Team Mark Bice in just six stanzas. Howard will play No. 4 Team Charley Thomas, who also enter the playoffs on a high note by defeating Team Rob Retchless 9-5.
Team Colin Dow closed out their season with a 7-4 decision against Team Pat Ferris. Team Dow lead John Steski received the event’s sportsmanship award.
Both of the men’s Page playoffs go down at 2 p.m. ET with the men’s semifinal and final scheduled for Sunday.
In women’s Scotties play, it may have taken Team Julie Tippin four days to win two games earlier this week, however, they scored three consecutive victories Friday while facing elimination in order to clinch the third and final playoff spot on their side. Tippin capped the surge with a 10-5 win over Team Hollie Duncan in the women’s tiebreaker.
“We knew what we were getting ourselves into at the beginning of the day,” Tippin said. “We just took it one shot at a time and knew that we needed to play really well the whole day and we did. It worked out.”
Tippin carries some serious momentum taking on Team Jestyn Murphy in Saturday morning’s semifinal at 9:30 a.m. ET.
“We kind of had an up-and-down week,” Tippin said. “To finish it off like this, playing well, and then hopefully, carrying through with that momentum into the semifinal, it’s good.”
The reigning champions Team Duncan had their skip back in the lineup for their final game of the season after she had to make an emergency run to a hospital while the remaining trio carried on against Team Rachel Homan in their afternoon game.
Duncan opened with the hammer but quickly fell behind 3-0 with a steal of one in the first and two in the second. Tippin forced Duncan to a single in the third and scored a deuce in the fourth with her first crack of the hammer.
It was deuces wild with Duncan counting a couple in the fifth and the teams alternating pairs of points again in six and seven. Tippin tacked two more on the board in eight and stole one more insurance-marker in nine to bring out the handshakes.
“There were a lot of deuces in this game and we haven’t had a ton all week,” Tippin said. “Sometimes games just go like that. We actually got to pick our rocks, so we were happy about that and felt comfortable with them.”
The women’s semifinal winner faces Homan in the championship match at 7 p.m. ET.
Draw 15: Homan holds off short-handed Duncan to take No. 1 seed
Team Rachel Homan was the only one with a playoff spot assured ahead of Friday afternoon’s final round-robin draw in the women’s Ontario Scotties Tournament of Hearts is now heading back to Saturday night’s championship game.
The 2017 world champions picked up a 10-3 victory Team Hollie Duncan during Friday’s afternoon draw. The reigning Ontario champions Team Duncan where playing short-handed as a trio as their skip did not play and had to make an emergency trip to a hospital.
Team Jestyn Murphy qualified for the playoffs and the No. 2 seed with a 6-3 win over Team Lauren Horton.
Duncan dropped into an evening tiebreaker against Team Julie Tippin, who prevailed 8-7 over Team Jacqueline Harrison.
Meanwhile, Team Charley Thomas (5-3) remained idle in the afternoon but were able to qualify for the fourth and final men’s Tankard playoff spot regardless. Team Dayna Deruelle was the only other squad left standing to drag Thomas into a potential tiebreaker situation, however, they fell 10-6 to Team Greg Balsdon, who played the spoiler.
Draw 14: Harrison, Tippin still in the mix for now
Team Jacqueline Harrison and Team Julie Tippin are staying alive, for now, in the Ontario Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
Harrison bounced back big time scoring a five-ender in the fifth to close out an 11-5 rout over Team Cathy Auld and Tippin topped Team Chelsea Brandwood 8-3 during Friday morning’s action at Woolwich Memorial Centre.
Both Harrison and Tippin levelled their records to 3-3 and remain in the playoff hunt although one is guaranteed to be eliminated next as they square off in the upcoming draw.
Fate is not in their hands though as only three of the eight women’s teams qualify for the playoffs. Team Rachel Homan (5-1) has clinched one spot. Team Hollie Duncan and Team Jestyn Murphy (both 4-2) will play at least one more game as well as they’re guaranteed a place in a potential tiebreaker if not an outright playoff spot pending the results of the following draw.
Murphy plays Team Lauren Horton while Duncan faces Homan. If both Murphy and Duncan win, then there will be no tiebreaker.
In men’s Tankard play, Team Charley Thomas is closing in on the fourth and final men’s playoff berth with a 10-5 win over Team Greg Balsdon. Thomas (5-3) controls his destiny going up against Team Rob Retchless in the evening draw although it’s possible his team will already have their spot locked up by then.
Team Dayna Deruelle (4-4) is the only other men’s squad in the mix after edging Team Colin Dow 8-7 in an extra end. Deruelle plays Balsdon in the afternoon draw.
Team Scott McDonald (8-0) and Team John Epping (7-1) are into the Page 1-2 playoff game and square off in the evening preview to wrap up round-robin play for the No. 1 seed and hammer. Team Glenn Howard (6-2) has secured the No. 3 spot.
Round-robin play for the Ontario men’s and women’s provincial curling championships continues at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Draw 13: Epping earns spot in 1-2 game
The playoff picture has started to take shape at the Ontario provincial curling championships.
Team John Epping and Team Scott McDonald are guaranteed spots in the men’s Tankard 1-2 game and will essentially face off for hammer in their playoff preview to wrap up pool play Friday.
Epping (7-1) edged out Team Glenn Howard for second place in the standings with a 7-5 victory Thursday night at Woolwich Memorial Centre. Howard (6-2) is now locked in at third place. Team Charley Thomas (4-3) is tentatively penciled in at fourth place, although that could all change with one day remaining.
McDonald extended his team’s undefeated streak to eight games with an 8-3 win over Team Pat Ferris (3-5).
Team Mark Bice (1-7) snapped their winless streak big time with a 7-1 victory to play the spoiler against Team Rob Retchless (2-6).
Team Greg Balsdon and Team Dayna Deruelle, both at 3-4 records, were idle in the evening are still in contention on the men’s side.
In women’s Scotties play, Team Jestyn Murphy handed Team Rachel Homan their first loss of the event in an 8-4 upset. Homan (5-1) remains at the top of the table and has qualified for the playoffs while Murphy is in the mix with a 4-2 record.
Team Hollie Duncan (4-2) got back into the win column following back-to-back losses by doubling up on Team Lauren Horton 8-4 as well. Horton has been eliminated from playoff contention with a 2-4 record. Team Cathy Auld, Team Jacqueline Harrison and Team Julie Tippin all hold identical 2-3 records and are in the hunt to qualify.
Draw 12: Howard on a hot streak
Team Glenn Howard continued their strong play at the Ontario Tankard.
Howard, a 17-time provincial champion, topped Team Charley Thomas 5-3 Thursday at Woolwich Memorial Centre.
Team Howard climbed back into a tie for second place in the standings with Team John Epping, both with 6-1 records, but only one will remain in that spot by the end of the evening with the teams on a collision course in the upcoming draw.
The 56-year-old Howard scored his jersey number, four (in honour of Bobby Orr), in the first end and it held up as the difference-maker with Thomas unable to close the gap. Howard could have iced the game early holding the hammer in the ninth end up by three points but drew heavy and conceded a single.
Third Scott Howard, Glenn’s son, delivered two double takeouts in the 10th end to clean up the front of the house and leave Thomas nowhere to hide. An open hit with Glenn’s first clinched the dub.
Elsewhere, Team Dayna Deruelle defeated Team Pat Ferris 9-6 and Team Rob Retchless dropped Team Colin Dow 9-8.
In women’s Scotties play, Team Jacqueline Harrison held off Team Lauren Horton 7-6 and Team Jestyn Murphy beat Team Julie Tippin 9-5.
Draw 11: Homan holding on to top spot
Team Rachel Homan remained undefeated stretching their streak at the Ontario Scotties Tournament of Hearts to 5-0.
The 2017 world champions got cracking scored three in the first, stole four in the second and continued to cruise to a 9-2 victory in only five ends over Team Cathy Auld (2-3) during Thursday morning action at Woolwich Memorial Centre.
Team Chelsea Brandwood (1-4) got into the win column with an 11-9 upset over defending champions Team Hollie Duncan (3-2).
In men’s Tankard play, Team Scott McDonald soared even higher to a 7-0 record doubling up on Team Greg Balsdon 8-4.
Team John Epping (6-1) remains in the chase for first place with another strong performance beating Team Mark Bice 7-1 in five ends. Balsdon dropped to a 3-4 record while Bice remains winless at 0-7.
Draw 10: McDonald maintains momentum
Team Scott McDonald maintained their hot streak to start the Ontario Tankard men’s provincial curling championships.
McDonald extended their unbeaten run to six games following a 7-3 victory over Team Dayna Deruelle during Wednesday night’s action at Woolwich Memorial Centre.
“It’s nice to start strong and it’s even better to be able to carry on the momentum into the middle of the week,” McDonald said. “We have some good teams left to play, we know we’re going to have to continue to play well in order to be successful come the weekend.”
Team John Epping stayed on McDonald’s tail improving to a 5-1 record, tied for second with Team Glenn Howard, by cruising to a 10-2 win over Team Charley Thomas, who are fourth in pool play at 4-2.
Team Greg Balsdon drew level to 3-3 with a 9-5 decision against Team Colin Dow.
Meanwhile, Team Rachel Homan (4-0) took sole possession of first place in the table for the women’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Homan held off Team Jacqueline Harrison 7-6 in an extra end.
Team Hollie Duncan entered the draw undefeated and sustained their first loss with Team Julie Tippin cooling the defending champions 8-0 in only five ends. Tippin (2-2) went level on the day falling 7-1 to Homan in the morning draw. Duncan (3-1) also split the day with a 6-5 extra-end victory earlier over Harrison.
Round-robin action resumes Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET. The women’s final is set for Saturday evening with the men’s final scheduled Sunday afternoon.
— Jonathan Brazeau (@JonathanBrazeau) January 31, 2019
Draw 9: Howard holds off Retchless
Team Glenn Howard scored the single in the final frame to edge Team Rob Retchless 5-4 during Wednesday afternoon action in the Ontario Tankard men’s provincial championships at Woolwich Memorial Centre.
Howard climbed to a 5-1 record while Retchless holds a reverse record at 1-5.
Team Pat Ferris defeated Team Mark Bice by an identical score, however, Ferris (3-3) stole singles in ends nine and 10 for their 5-4 victory. Bice dropped to a 0-6 record.
Team Cathy Auld topped Team Jestyn Murphy 7-5 to bring both team’s records level at 2-2.
Team Lauren Horton stole two in the seventh and one in the eighth to down Team Chelsea Brandwood 7-2. Horton improved to 2-2 while Brandwood remains winless at 0-4.
Draw 8: Homan, Duncan climb to 3-0
Team Rachel Homan and Team Hollie Duncan kept pace to remain tied atop of the Ontario Scotties leaderboard.
Homan rolled out to a 7-1 win over Team Julie Tippin during Wednesday morning’s action at Woolwich Memorial Centre while Duncan defeated Team Jacqueline Harrison 6-5 in an extra end.
Both Homan and Duncan improved to 3-0 records.
In men’s play, Team Dayna Deruelle also needed an extra end to solve Team Rob Retchless 8-7 while Team Charley Thomas drew for the win with their last rock of the to edge Team Pat Ferris 6-5.
Draw 7: McDonald continues to impress
Undefeated Team Scott McDonald continued their strong start to the Ontario Tankard.
Team McDonald defeated Mark Bice’s squad 8-2 in only six ends during Draw 7 action Tuesday night at Woolwich Memorial Centre.
McDonald improved to an impressive 5-0 record and remains alone at the top of the leaderboard for the provincial men’s curling championship. Bice is trending in the opposite direction winless at 0-5.
Elsewhere, Team Glenn Howard also had a quick night with a 9-1 rout in only four ends over Team Greg Balsdon.
Howard opened with a deuce and was able to force Balsdon to a single in the second. Balsdon made a double takeout and looked to roll out for a blank, however, his shooter stuck around in the house to count. The 17-time Ontario Tankard champion Howard was able to curl around a guard and tap to score three in the third and extend the lead to 5-1.
Balsdon attempted an angle runback into a cluster of four counters in the fourth but couldn’t crank the gear effect to get them to scatter and conceded the quadruple steal and the game.
Team John Epping defeated Team Colin Dow 9-5. Epping broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth end with a short raise takeout to score four. Dow made a great shot to get a deuce back in seven and cut the deficit in half, however, he flashed his last in eight allowing Epping an easy open draw for two that re-established the four-point gap.
Howard and Epping sit in second place in the standings with identical 4-1 records while Balsdon fell to 2-3 and Dow dropped to 1-4.
In women’s play, Team Lauren Horton doubled up on Team Cathy Auld 8-4. Both teams hold 1-2 records.
Team Jestyn Murphy (2-1) scored two in the 10th and stole the winning point in an extra end for the 8-7 comeback victory over Team Chelsea Brandwood (0-3).
The action continues through to the weekend with the men’s and women’s winners representing Ontario at the Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts, respectively.
Draw 6 results
– Epping 7, Balsdon 6 (EE)
– McDonald 7, Howard 5
– Thomas 7, Dow 2
– Ferris 9, Retchless 8
– Deruelle 8, Bice 7 (EE)
Draw 5 results
– Duncan 8, Murphy 7 (EE)
– Homan 8, Horton 1
– Harrison 7, Brandwood 5
– Auld 9, Tippin 4
Draw 4 results
– Homan 8, Brandwood 7
– Duncan 9, Auld 8
– Tippin 8, Horton 5
– Murphy 6, Harrison 3
Draw 3 results
– Howard 8, Dow 1
– Balsdon 7, Bice 4
– Epping 7, Ferris 3
– Thomas 7, Deruelle 2
– McDonald 8, Retchless 5
Draw 2 results
– McDonald 9, Thomas 3
– Epping 9, Deruelle 5
– Balsdon 7, Retchless 2
– Dow 10, Bice 4
– Howard 9, Ferris 8 (EE)
Draw 1 results
– Retchless 7, Epping 3
– McDonald 7, Dow 3
– Howard 5, Deruelle 4
– Ferris 7, Balsdon 5
– Thomas 9, Bice 2