Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Final We All Wanted

Charlsewood's Jeff Stoughton is joined by Assiniboine Memorial's Mike McEwen in the championship final of the 2011 Safeway Championship final in Beausejour today. McEwen defeated Terry McNamee of Brandon in the semi-final 6-3 earlier this morning.

This is the final everybody wanted to see. This is a rematch of a year ago when Stoughton beat McEwen 9-8 in an extra end. McEwen was appointed the number 1 seed by his peers after a very successful cash season which included 2 grand slam wins. Stoughton is the defending champion with Steve Gould back at lead, new member Reid Carruthers at second and returning to the team at third Jon Mead.

You can catch this game right now on Shaw TV or logging into www.safewaychampionship.ca

LIVE CHAT RIGHT NOW

Visiti the front page of The Last Rock Rock blog to chat and get some insight into the semi-final and final today with myself. If you want to stream the game live on your computer visit http://www.safewaychampionship.ca/.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Page Playoff and Live Chat

There are six teams left battling it out for the chance to represent Manitoba at this year’s Tim Hortons Brier. We know that either defending champion Jeff Stoughton of Charlsewood or Brandon’s Terry McNamee will be playing in tomorrow’s championship final. Both Stoughton and McNamee won two games in the playoff round to advance to the 1 versus 1 game of the page playoff tonight at 6:30 on Shaw. The loser will drop the semi-final to play against one of four teams. Either Fort Garry’s Vic Peters, Brandon’s Rob Fowler, Assiniboine Memorial’s Mike McEwen or La Salle’s Randy Neufeld. As we speak McEwen is playing Neufeld and Fowler is facing off against Peters.




I often have misconceptions of how games are played out that I don’t see. McNamee defeated McEwen earlier today by a score of 9-4. When I arrived at the Sun Gro Centre in Beausejour Resby Coutts informed me that those two teams were tied 4-4 playing the ninth end. McNamee went on to score a 5 ender and defeat McEwen 9-4. I was not too surprised to hear that the game had been a close affair. Not many teams can blow out McEwen in a few ends.



I will be hosting a chat room on my blog for tomorrow morning’s semi-final and final. Please come online and login while I give some play-by-play and analysis. Both games will be streamed live on the Safeway Championship website.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Corey Chambers and Stu Shiels Interview

Corey expresses his thoughts on his first Safeway Championship and Stu talks about his injury what kept him from curling in the Safeway Championship.

How many teams can really win the Brier?

I am currently watching B qualifying games at the Sun Gro Centre in Beausejour when the though of how many teams can win the Brier? It is a very interesting question indeed and it makes you think that it could be less than a handful. The Olympics have changed our game forever where teams pay more attentions to of ice training than ever before.




Three teams are automatic that could win the brier: Kevin Martin, Glenn Howard and Kevin Koe. The last person other than those three to have his name engraved on the tankard was Jean-Michel Menard of Quebec. Interestingly enough Menard defeated Glenn Howard of the final that year. Howard's team has now played in the last 4 out of 5 Brier finals which is a phenomenal accomplishment for a team. In the year that he did not make the final he lost to Jeff Stoughton in the semi-final.



Now to consider the teams that are in the discussion that has the ability to win the Brier: Mike McEwen, Jeff Stoughton, Wayne Middaugh, Pat Simmons, and Brad Gushue. Mike McEwen is probably the one team that you could sandwich in between the first and second tiers. I left off Randy Ferbey’s old team because they have taken a break from curling.



Let us take a step outside the box and imagine that all the previous listed all qualified for the Brier from different provinces. We will take all of the teams at their current skill and commitment levels. The Brier then would be played out one hundred times and we would see how many different teams would win. I would guess that at least ninety out of those one hundred Briers would be won the likes of Martin, Howard, Koe & McEwen.



It may seem like a staggering number that I am guessing these four teams would win ninety percent of the Briers but that is just the case. These four teams off ice work are well documented in the media and the results prove that it is paying off. Until curlers are 100% dedicated to their sport and not have to worry about working their will be no parody in Curling. Over the next 3-5 years many of the curling elite will retire from competitive curling and that is when we will be seeing the changing of the guard. John Morris, Brad Gushue & Mike McEwen are becoming the next Kevin Martin, Glenn Howard & Jeff Stoughton of the world. The next generation of young curlers will put even more into training than the teams today. Depending on the number of people that take up intense training will determine how much parody there is in curling.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gushue/Ferbey

As I browse on CurlingZone today I noticed the thread about the splitting of the Gushue/Ferbey experiment. Ferby made comments about the way Gushue runs his team and Ryan Fry defended Gushue with some not so flattering words about Ferbey. You can read both blog articles on Al Cameron's blog.

Al Cameron had permission to publish Ryan Fry's email response on his blog. Many people have said that Ryan Fry is being very immature and I tend to agree with the majority. Fry could have said what he said in a much more politically correct way. But it makes me think that the relationship between Gushue and Ferbey was doomed from the start from how harsh Fry's comments were. Also there is more beneath the surface of Fry's comments than most of us can see. He gave Al Cameron permission to post his email for a reason.

Randy Ferbey was trying to clearly state that Brad Gushue is a control freak in the nicest way possible. Mark Nichols has curled for Brad Gushue for a very long time and Ryan Fry has curled with Brad for a few years. Jamie Korab has been kicked off the team and brought back on more times than I can shake a stick at. When I watch Brad Gushue I get a sense that he not completely comfortable on the ice. Ever since his Gold Medal in 2006 something Gushue has seemed different. It might be time for Gushue to call up Russ Howard and get some advice. It will take time but Brad Gushue will figure it out and become a better curler than he has ever been.

Scott Madams Interview

Scott Madams after his 11-5 victory over Don Homles from the Willow Park out of Fin Flon.

Chase for the Playoffs

Only one of the top eight seeds has fallen at the 2011 Safeway Championship. David Bohn of the Assiniboine Memorial went bang bang this time around. He lost two close games to David Hamblin of Morris 8-7 and his first game in an extra end to Hamiota's Brent Strachan 9-7. Sometimes we fall on the wrong side of the inch and for Bohn and his team it was there turn.




Strachan is part of thr eight teams still alive on the "A" side of the championship so far. Strachan will play Brandon's number 3 seed Rob Fowler, number 1 seed Mike McEwen will play Deer Lodge's Sean Grassie, defending champion Jeff Stoughton of Charlsewood takens on Willie Lyburn and the final match up in the "A" qualifying games has Peter Nichols playing Vic Peters.



When and if you get the chance to come to Beausejour please take note of these three players who I believe don't get enough attention.



Steve Irwin - He often goes overlooked as the third for Terry McNamee. Steve is a very quite guy and he is making his return to the Safeway Championship after missing last year. His first son was born last year on the Thursday of the Safeway Championship. He is a great shooter and shows plenty of consistenty on the ice.



Alex Forrest - The second for Willie Lyburn of Deer Lodge. Alex was the runner-up last year the M & M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championship. In the last end of the final Alex missed a takeout to give his team a great chance to win and threw it just a bit wide. He teamed up this year with Willie Lyburn, James Kirkness and Greg Melnichuk. They are showing him the ropes of the men's game and are all consistent winners on the cash circuit. Alex also has a sibling that he can look up to. His brother Tyler Forrest was the lead for Jason Gunnlaugson this and last year.



Corey Chambers – Third for Sean Grassie. I curled with Corey for the past few years and he showed to me he has the potential to be one of the great curlers in Manitoba for years to come. You could compare his slide somewhat to John Morris but his slide is much slower. Corey can generate lots of power from his hack foot but backs it up by having a great finesse game.



Look for these curlers next time you have a chance and I promise you won’t be disappointed. All three of them are very quite but you can see the passion and intensity in their eyes while they play the game.

First Controversy

One day into the 2011 Safeway Championship and already we have some what of a controversy. Andy Stewart was surprised to learn that he had run out of time when he thought they were in a timeout. In the 10th end of his game versus Dave Boehmer he was debating what shot to play when his game time ended. It turns out Stewart’s team had already been credited with taking two time outs when they thought they had only taken one. The officials had to end the game right before Stewart through his last stone. Head official Don Campbell said he would review all information and make a decision ASAP.

The interesting thing about this situation was the game was on tape delay on Shaw. Surely some type of instant replay could have been used. It may be a little time consuming but surely someone could have reviewed the tape to see if Stewart’s team had actually taken two timeouts already. Not every game at this Safeway Championship would have the luxury of having this type of instant replay but we want to get all calls right. Every curler at this event will admit they would never want to win by the other team running out of time. Andy Stewart is a very even keel type of guy so he would never get out of line.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rachel Homan Interview

This interview will air on Rock Talk on February 9th at 7pm CST only on Sports Radio 1290. You can listen to the full interview here as a special treat for visiting my blog. Please stay tuned to the blog as I will be making reguler updates at the 2011 Manitoba Safeway Championship from February 9th-13th.