PORT HARDY—After three days of play between 18 rinks it came down to two Courtenay-area teams on the A sheet of the Fort Rupert Curling Club.
Then it went down to the final hammer.
But, when the dust settled on the Hugh Fraser Mens Open Bonspiel, the hammer wasn’t enough for Stu Larson to wrest the game away from Rick Cowles’ rink.
The seventh end was pivotal as Cowles was able to take advantage of the hammer and draw for two, which gave him the ability to play a takeout game in the final end.
Cowles’ cause was helped when a heavy rock from Larson’s third, Duffy Simpson, rolled through the back of the house and left his skip a tough pair of shots, needing two with none in the house.
When his first came up short and Cowles played a guard, Larson was left needing a miracle with the hammer. That miracle didn’t come and the rinks shook hands.
The rinks had opened the final with some cagey tactical play in the early ends, but a pair of beautiful, inch-perfect draws in the fourth by Cowles left two scoring on the button behind guards. Larson, with the hammer, had the weight and line to freeze up on the stones but just couldn’t find the curl he needed.
Back-to-back singles followed as Larson rallied to level the score before the two-rock seventh gave Cowles the momentum.
Next door on the B rink, local honour was being resolved as Andrew Smith’s rink faced off against Barry Evans.
Despite a strong showing all weekend to make the B final, Sunday just wasn’t Evans’ day as missed chances — and a little luck on occasion for the Smith rink — combined to force handshakes after a four-rock sixth end for Smith.
“I dunno,” said Evans after the game, “I’m normally a 90 per cent shooter on (takeouts).”
“Oh, I know,” said Smith’s lead, Dean Hunchuk. “I told those guys, ‘Barry doesn’t miss two in a row.’”
But, unfortunately for Evans, miss he did, and a pair of runaway ends saw the Smith rink out of sight.
The Smith rink were a consistent force throughout the weekend, Smith and Mark Hutchinson back as part of last year’s winning rink of Brad Zealand in this tournament. Zealand was travelling and was unable to defend his title.
On the C rink, Doug McCorquodale faced off against Campbell River’s Brian May. May’s rink took the win there, a huge four-rock second end gave May a comfortable buffer that left McCorquodale chasing from early on.
Comox Valley’s Steve Thurber beat out Gene Cadwallader’s rink in a tightly contested, nip-and-tuck D final.
There’s one more event on the curling club’s calendar; the season-ending Daffodilly March 15. The hybrid golf/curling event signals the close of the curling season and the move to the greens.
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