Two Canadian teams playoff-bound

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Al Cameron

Two of the three Canadian teams competing this week in Sochi, Russia, at the World Mixed Doubles andWorld Senior Curling Championships have clinched playoff berths, and the third is on the verge despite a loss on Wednesday.

The mixed doubles pairing of Charley Thomas and Kalynn Park of Calgary won twice on Wednesday at the Ice Cube Curling Center to clinch its pool title and a berth in the quarter-finals while Alan O’Leary’s Halifax foursome clinched its senior men’s pool title with a victory of its own on Wednesday at the Iceberg Skating Palace.

Lois Fowler’s senior women’s team from Brandon suffered its first loss on Wednesday but still remains in the driver’s seat for a playoff berth.

After losing their first game of the competition on Tuesday, Thomas and Park rebounded with two decisive wins on Wednesday.

Against Romania’s Iulia Traila and Cristian Matau, Thomas and Park, with coach Jim Waite, took control from the first end and led 6-1 by the break. The Romanians, with only one win in the round robin to date, weren’t able to generate any offence in an 8-3 win for Canada.

Against winless Belarus, Canada opened the scoring with a single in the first and stole four ends on the way to an 8-1 victory, completing a successful bounce-back day for Park and Thomas and clinch first place in Group C.

“It was one of our better games I think,” said Thomas. “We got our rocks in really good positions, and I think that was the difference. We are perfectly balanced with our two wins today.”

On Thursday, the Canadians will finish off the round robin against Korea’s Hyein Lee and Jong-Chul Beak, who are currently tied with Spain’s Irantzu and Gontzal Garcia Vez for fourth spot in Group C with a 5-3 record.

Selected games from the World Mixed Doubles Championship will be streamed live online. Go to the event website, wmdcc2015.curlingevents.com/, to see the games and broadcast schedule.

Meanwhile, O’Leary’s Canadian senior men squeaked out a 6-5 extra-end win over Scotland’s Gordon Muirhead on Wednesday morning.

The turning point for Team Canada – O’Leary, third Andrew Dauphinee, second Danny Christianson, lead Harold McCarthy and coach Bill Tschirhart – came in the seventh end when, trailing by two, they scored a big three points after Muirhead just missed on a take-out.

Muirhead tied it up in eight to force the extra end, but O’Leary was able to score his single for the 6-5 win.

“Scotland played well and we got a little bit lucky in the seventh end when he hit one a little too thin,” said O’Leary. “We’ll take the breaks.”

With the win, Canada remains undefeated (6-0) and will claim sole possession of first place in Group A, with Scotland (4-2) right behind.

“My boys are comfortable peeling on this ice, which is really nice for the skip,” said O’Leary after the game.  “It makes you confident calling the shots.  I think (we’re) guaranteed top place in our section but we’ll just keep rolling.”

In other action on Wednesday morning, Fowler saw her three-game winning streak end with a 6-5 loss to the U.S.’s Norma O’Leary.

Fowler, third Maureen Bonar, second Cathy Gauthier, lead Allyson Stewart, with team coach Brian Fowler and national coach Bill Tschirhart led 5-3 after six ends, but the Americans tied it up with a deuce in seven and then stole the winning point in the final end.

The loss moves the Canadian women into second place in Group B with a 3-1 record, behind the USA (4-0).

On Thursday, the final day of round-robin play, Fowler will play Slovakia’s Elena Jancarikova, who is still looking for her first win, while O’Leary faces Italy’s Danilo Capriolo (2-3).

The World Mixed Doubles and World Seniors roundups will be posted in French as soon as possible atwww.curling.ca/?lang=fr

For live scores and standings from the World Seniors Championship, go to:wscc2015.curlingevents.com/, and for the same from the World Mixed Doubles Championship, go towmdcc2015.curlingevents.com/.

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