Tuesday, November 11, 2008

“Show me the money!”

First of all, let me apologize to those of you who were trying to follow our progress over the weekend. I understand that it was difficult to find our scores and see our progress on the Duluth website. Due to a couple of teams dropping out late, the draw brackets changed significantly and they were unable to get the updates out to the WCT in time for the event. The Duluth webmaster did the best job he could under short notice. We can appreciate your frustration. In the future I’ll try to have a backup plan of keeping you all informed.

So if you hadn’t figured it out yet, we had a pretty good weekend. Once again, we qualified and earned some much needed prize money which will have a nice impact on our budget. We made it to the A qualifying game and lost to the current World Junior Champion, Chris Plys rink. If you remember we played these guys in St. Paul in the A qualifying game and lost. This is not a good trend, but Chris’s team is really playing well right now and they seem to have our number. So our loss to them dropped us to the B bracket semi-finals against the Jeff Currie rink from Thunder Bay, Ontario. Jeff’s team was just a few shots away from making the Brier (Canada’s National Championship) last year. In the curling world the Brier is pretty much the Holy Grail. So we knew we’d have a tough game. For the third time this season we caught a major break at the end of the game and pulled out a win in a game that we probably should not have won! Lady luck seems to be smiling on us. As in the previous times, we knew we had to take advantage of that break. With the win against Currie we advanced to the B Bracket qualifying game against Pete Fenson, the reigning Olympic team. It is worth mentioning that Fenson is John Shuster’s old team so there was a little added incentive for this one. I am happy to report that we played our most complete game of the year as a team. Firing on all cylinders, we controlled the entire match and came away with a win. That set us up in the Championship quarter finals but we’d have to wait to see who we would play on Sunday night. With some time on our hands, we finally got around to getting our team photos done. I have to say that those uniforms are just awesome! J Thanks again to everyone at Gemini!

As it turned out, Jeff Currie went on after losing to us and qualified out of the C Bracket. It’s not often that you play the same team twice in a Spiel, but it can happen. This game was a great match with awesome shots being made on both sides. After regulation play we were tied and played and extra end. Once again we came through with the victory! That win set us up for a semi-final matchup with my old teammates on the Craig Brown team. Craig and team are the current National Champions for the U.S. and had an amazing 32 – 8 record in Spiel appearances last year. This game turned into an offensive battle with lots of stones in play. We had some great opportunities, but just couldn’t capitalize and lost the game 8 – 4. Brown went on to win the event.

My thoughts from the weekend. We made significant progress in a number of areas over the weekend. Team trust and confidence is very high and we are working well as a unit. Now it’s time to clean up a few details and build our identity and style of play as a team. I think we’re right on track. Building on our successes and being quietly determined to improve seem to be the team’s mantras. Hopefully, that equates to even more consistency that we can carry in to the playdowns in January!

So it’s another back to back week for us as we head of to Thunder Bay, Ontario for the Courtesy Freight – NOCT – Superspiel. This event would probably rank a bit higher in strength of field than either St. Paul or Duluth but not quite as high as the events in Portage or Brandon. Another great test for us. We are really looking forward to the trip. I am hoping that they will have online scoring for you, but I cannot guarantee anything. For now you can see the field and draw at this website:

I’ll update as is necessary.

John Benton

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