Peaking at the right time is every team’s dream.
The Muskie girls’ and boys’ curling squads are envisioning NorWOSSA titles after earning their berths in the conference playdowns at the second and final qualifying bonspiel Monday afternoon in Atikokan.
The girls extended their unbeaten streak they began at the first qualifier in Fort Frances early last month by sweeping their three games in Atikokan to finish in first place with a perfect 6-0 mark (12 points).
“They dominated all three games, pretty much the same as they did in Fort Frances,” Muskie coach Tom Fry said about his crew of skip Amy Nielson, third Kate Bondett, second Katie Bolen, and leads Megan Moate and Jenna Enge.
“They even won the draw-to-the-button shootout after their first game,” he noted. “Overall, I’d say they played better this time around.”
The black-and-gold dumped host Atikokan 5-1 to open play Monday, before thumping the Dryden Eagles 8-1 and beating the Rainy River Owls 7-3.
In the end, Atikokan and Rainy River also advanced to the NorWOSSA girls’ final, which is slated Feb. 17-18 in Dryden.
In boys’ action, the Muskie rink of skip Adam Bolen, third Brendan Loney, second Jason Pattison, and leads Joey Wensley and David Kaun tripped over their brooms in the opener against Atikokan, dropping a 9-3 decision that started poorly and just got downright hairy from there.
“We had a chance for a four-ender early to draw even but our rock picked up a stray hair and they ended up stealing one,” Fry recalled.
“The loss put our backs against the wall,” he added. “But I tried to calm them down after the game, letting them know it was just a couple of bad breaks that cost us.
“They seemed to listen and put some good ends together after that.”
The Muskies, who went 1-2 on home ice at the first qualifier last month, tackled the eventual first-place qualifiers from Rainy River with renewed enthusiasm.
They crushed the Owls 7-2 to clinch their berth in the NorWOSSA playdowns before finishing up with an 8-5 win in a battle for second place with Dryden.
“Our hitting game was again strong, but our finesse game still needs some work,” Fry admitted. “On the quieter shots, the guys need to get their speed down a bit.”
The top two male and female rinks at the NorWOSSA playdowns will advance to NWOSSAA on Feb. 24-25 in Red Lake, with the first-place winners from there then moving on to the all-Ontarios on March 19-21 in St. Thomas.
In related news, Fry also will accompany Adam Bolen (skip), Nielson (third), Pattison (second), and Katie Bolen (lead) to the Northwestern Ontario Bantam mixed playdowns Jan. 30-Feb.1 in Atikokan.
The winning team advances to the provincial championships in Huntsville in late March.