After cruising to a perfect 3-0 record to earn the first berth into the double-knockout portion of the Northwestern men’s curling playdowns, Raymond Roy’s rink looked to be well on their way to advancing to the provincials next month.
But with a single shot, their hopes of moving on to Timmins were suddenly dashed.
Roy surrendered three in the 10th end to Bill Adams (Port Arthur) on Sunday morning to lose 9-8, which eliminated the Fort Frances foursome from further contention.
The other Fort rink, skipped by Don DeBenedet, was ousted with a 7-5 loss to Mike Tivy (Kenora) on Saturday morning in the triple-knockout portion of the playdowns.
Adams eventually went on to become of the three rinks to advance to the provincials Feb. 9-13, along with his twin brother, Jim Adams (Kakabeka Falls), and Jason Repay (Fort William).
Roy, who held leads of 4-1 after four ends and then 7-3 through six against Adams before their colossal collapse, admitted the loss was a difficult one to accept.
“It’s pretty tough because we controlled the game right from the first end,” said Roy, whose rink included third Tim Nordin, second Scott Gobeil, and lead Dave Broman.
“He [Adams] drew everything in and just built it up,” he added.
Roy said the quality of teams at the “Northwesterns” makes it difficult to hold on to leads.
And that certainly was evident as Roy watched Adams score a pair in the seventh and then steal one in the eighth to pull to within 7-6. Roy answered with one of his own in the ninth but Adams then pulled off his miraculous comeback in the 10th.
Still, Roy didn’t hesitate when asked if his rink was good enough to advance to the “Northerns.”
“Oh yeah, we curled really well, it just came down to two mistakes in both of the last ends,” said Roy, referring to his final two losses.
“We should have won. We curled very, very well,” he stressed. “We knew it would be tough but other teams capitalized on our mistakes.”
Roy opened play last Thursday afternoon in the 16-team, triple-knockout portion by trouncing defending Northern Ontario champ Bruce Melville (Thunder Bay) 9-3 and then blanking Tim Fulawka (Sioux Lookout/Red Lake) 8-0.
He went on to dump Frank Stocco (Longlac) 7-3 on Friday afternoon to earn the first berth into the eight-team, double-knockout portion.
But that’s when Roy had his first stumble, losing 5-4 in a rematch against Fulawka. He then rebounded with another win over Stocco (this time 7-5) to advance against Adams.
< *c>Slow start
It was a much different story for DeBenedet’s crew, who lost their first two games of the triple-knockout portion—8-6 to Adams and then 7-5 to Cam McMillan (Dryden).
But facing elimination, DeBenedet and his team of third Clark Johnson, second Greg Plumridge, and lead Don Robertson, bounced back with an 8-2 win over Rick Desmoulin (Longlac) and a 9-5 victory against Al Laine (Thunder Bay) only to come up short against Tivy with a berth in the double-knockout on the line.
Tivy chipped away at DeBenedet all game, opening up leads of 4-1 after five ends and then 5-3 through seven.
But DeBenedet admitted the turning point came in the eighth when he had a tight shot for two but missed it, allowing Tivy a steal of one and a 6-3 lead.
DeBenedet did get his deuce in the ninth to make it 6-5 but Tivy iced the win with a single in the 10th.
He said the poor start definitely was their downfall.
“The best start is if you win the first two,” DeBenedet noted. “If we would have curled at our best, we would have had a better chance.
“We weren’t 100 percent sharp and we had a lot of misses,” he added. “You can make a couple of misses because the other team will do the same [but] you pay the price if you do that too often.”