When Bill Crewson and his Muskie rink headed down to their first OFSAA curling championship in Midland last week, they left with the feeling that “anything” could happen.
What almost happened was all-Ontario gold.
But in the end, the Muskies had to settle for silver medals at the provincial high school playdowns after suffering a disappointing 6-2 loss to Chinquacousy (Brampton) in the final Saturday afternoon.
Crewson’s rink, which included third Chris Matheson, second Tyler Bell, lead Matt Gushulak, and fifth Joel Perron, jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead after the first end. But it was all downhill from there.
Chinquacousy sliced the Muskies’ lead to 2-1 with a single in the third (the second was blanked), and then iced the win with a steal of two in the fourth and two more in the fifth for a 5-2 lead.
They also added a steal of one in the sixth then, after the seventh was blanked, ran the Muskies out of rocks in the eighth.
Crewson said his team got off to a fast start, like they had throughout the playdowns, and were just “a break or two” short of breaking the game open in their favour.
“We came out great and played about as best we could,” he said. “We totally outplayed them in the first couple of ends.”
Bill Gushulak, father of the team’s lead and who attended the playdowns in Midland, said the turning point came in the sixth end when Crewson had a chance to score three and tie the score with his final stone.
“He got the hit but rolled across the front of the opposition’s second rock, leaving them another steal, this time for one,” he said of the missed shot.
The Muskies may have surprised a lot of schools by advancing to the final against Chinquacousy but they knew they had the potential to go a long way at the playdowns.
“We were pretty confident going in,” said coach Rob Roy Donaldson. “We expected to get far if we played up to our capabilities.”
Donaldson said the rink played very well to reach the final, first beating Sault Ste. Marie 6-4 in the quarter-finals Friday afternoon and then knocking off Sinclair 5-1 in the semi-final Saturday morning.
(Sinclair went on to win the bronze-medal game 6-5 over Don Mills).
Actually, after a quick start, the Muskies almost didn’t get out of their “Russ Howard” pool. Opening with wins over North Dundas (5-2) and Lambton Central (5-3), they proceeded to lose their next two--7-6 to Pope John Paul II and 8-5 to E. L Crossley.
That left the Muskies in a three-way tie for second at 2-2 with North Dundas and Lambton. But the black-and-gold was awarded the second playoff berth by virtue of their wins over these two schools during the round-robin.
Chinquacousy finished tied for top spot in the “Tim Belcourt” pool with Bawating, both with 3-1 records. They went on to nip Glendale (London) 6-5 in the quarter-finals and then Don Mills 5-3 in the semis.
Saturday’s final was the last game in a Muskie uniform for Crewson, who is graduating from high school this year. That move should allow Matheson to move up to the skip position next season.
“My goal going in was to reach the semi-finals and we did that and more,” said Crewson, adding he’ll be moving on to university next year. “We stacked up well against the better teams down there, and I think we were better than the team that beat us but they just got the breaks.
“It was sure nice to make it [to the final] but I didn’t like losing that last game,” he lamented.
Gushulak added the Muskie rink obviously was disappointed in not winning the gold but stressed they were satisfied with bringing home the silver in such a competitive field of curlers.
And he stressed the team was thankful to all those individuals, businesses, and organizations that helped to contribute to their fundraising efforts which made the trip to Midland possible.