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Watkins competes in Provincial Championship

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Swan Valley curling product Carter Watkins skipped his junior mens’ team – based out of the Fort Rouge Curling Club – all the way to the Canola Junior Men’s Provincial Championship, held from Dec. 26-30 at the Millennium Exhibition Centre in Altona.
Team Watkins fell short of championship glory, scoring only one stone less than Ryan Wiebe’s team in a tie-breaker match leading into the three-round playoffs. Heading into that game however, they tied for second in their pool with a five-win, two-loss record.
“Team Watkins was motivated to do their best, aiming for that championship title, taking it one game at a time,” said Assistant Coach and Manager Louise Watkins. “This year, there were at least eight teams that could have taken the title if they got hot, and another couple of teams that could easily play spoiler.
“The field all season had been a roller coaster of wins and losses for seasoned contenders and fresh young teams.”
Watkins added that the four wins out of the gate put the team in the best possible position to make the playoffs. The team was one of only two rinks of the 16 total that were undefeated by Day 3.
“There were upsets in both pools,” she said. “With a close match against top seed JT Ryan and a win over Team Forrester, we could clinch top two teams in our pool of seven with a win over Ryan Wiebe, but we couldn’t get that extra point that we needed.
“After losing in the extra end in the final round-robin game and having 15 minutes between back-to-back games against Wiebe, we just needed one more point. Both teams had chances to blow the games wide open, but always hung in there. After 21 ends with the same rocks, same sheet, same guys, it just didn’t happen.
“The (team) was disappointed that they couldn’t get the win, but pleased overall with the week,” Watkins continued. “Had we picked up the win, I’m certain the energy of making playoffs would have propelled them to the finals. They were focused and would have built on the momentum.”
Watkins added that the team also had the best skilled-based draws for the hammer throughout the week, which is a cumulative record of the seven attempts for Last Stone First End.

Game breakdown
• Game 1: 7-2 win versus Beyak – A solid performance by Team Watkins on arena ice, opening the first end with a steal of two in the first and again in the fifth. They kept pressure on Beyak’s team at their first appearance at Provincials.
• Game 2: 8-7 win versus Wasylik – The team got a feel for the ice with a blank opener and deuce in the second end. It was tied after six ends and Watkins scored four points in the seventh to control the game, only to gift a three-point end back. A guard that didn’t cover a big enough piece of the pathway allowed Wasylik to play an angle tap for three.
• Game 3: 8-3 win versus Freeman – The team made the best use of the hammer, taking the opening end with a deuce and two three-point ends in the fourth and eighth ends while holding Freeman to one deuce and one single.
• Game 4: 11-4 win versus Rutter – A big end of four points in the fourth end put a lot of pressure on Rutter and a steal in the seventh end put the game out of reach.
• Game 5: 5-4 loss versus Ryan – Close battle, with a steal for Team Watkins in the third on a measure with Team Ryan answering back with a deuce in the fourth end. A failed attempt at a double in the house half behind cover gave up a steal in the seventh end and a gentle tap behind cover to score a deuce clipped the guard resulting in back-to-back steals in the eighth end. With both teams playing to win, that was the difference in point spread to keep the game out of reach.
• Game 6: 5-4 win versus Forrester – With only one deuce scored all game and a few exchanges of singles, in the 10th end, Team Watkins had two rocks frozen on the button and Forrester needed to draw to nearly cover the pin. Watkins stole the win as Forrester’s rock stopped short.
• Game 7: 8-7 loss versus Wiebe – A tight game with exchanges of threes in the eighth and ninth ends keeping everyone into the game. A misplaced guard and draw that came too deep wasn’t good enough to win.
• Tie-breaker for playoff spot: 5-4 loss versus Wiebe – Another tight game with only one deuce in the seventh end. Watkins had a chance for two in the 10th to tie, his draw was too heavy.

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Jeremy Bergen
REPORTER
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