Crocker/Walker secure playoff appearance at Canad Inns Mixed Doubles Trials

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PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, MAN. — Laura Crocker (Edmonton) and Geoff Walker (St. John’s) remain unbeaten in Pool B at the 2018 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Trials and have clinched first in their pool by defeating a fellow undefeated team.

Crocker/Walker stole two points against Dana Ferguson (Edmonton) and Brendan Bottcher (Sherwood Park, Alta.) in the final end for a 9-6 victory.

It was a critical win as it keeps Crocker and Walker undefeated at 7-0 in the round robin with only one more game to play and secures an automatic spot in the eight-team playoffs. With the loss, Ferguson and Bottcher drop to 6-1.

“We definitely wanted to win that game. We knew we had a spot in the playoffs locked up, but win and we got first place which would matter for hammer and such in the playoffs so we wanted to make sure we still kept some intensity out there in that game and treated it just like a playoff game,” said Crocker.

Walker and Crocker stuck a runback double in the first end to score three points and take an early lead. They forced Ferguson and Bottcher to one point in the second end and increased the lead to 5-1 by scoring two points in the third end. But a well-timed power play by Ferguson and Bottcher got them back into the game. They cashed in a draw for three in the fourth end and forced Crocker and Walker to one in the fifth. Trailing by two, Ferguson and Bottcher took advantage of a miss by Walker to score two and tie the game 6-6. Crocker and Walker used their power play in the seventh end but were held to one. Ferguson missed her last stone draw in the eighth to give up the steal of two and secure Walker and Crocker’s spot atop the pool.

“We’re making a lot of really key shots. I mean I don’t think we’ve actually had a game where we’ve thrown everything together and played perfect. We’ve had a couple really good games and we’ve had a few where we’ve caught a few breaks and made a lot of big shots. Laura’s made a lot of key shots when I’ve gotten us into trouble,” said Walker.

Elsewhere on the ice at Stride Place, John Epping/Sherry Middaugh (2-4) defeated Marliese Kasner/Dustin Kalthoff (0-6) 8-3 in seven ends. Val Sweeting/Brad Gushue (4-2) won their fourth game in a row after beating Nicole Westlund-Stewart and Tyler Stewart (0-6). Kaitlyn Lawes/John Morris (3-3) stole one in an extra end to beat Chelsea Carey/Colin Hodgson (3-3) by a score of 8-7.

During Draw 13 action on Thursday morning Nancy Martin/Catlin Schneider (4-3) held Shannon Birchard/Jason Gunnlaugson (1-6) to one point in the final end to win 5-4; Emilie and Robert Desjardins (4-2) defeated Kim and Wayne Tuck (0-6) 8-6; Jocelyn Peterman/Brett Gallant (6-0) remained unscathed after defeating Jennifer Jones/Mark Nichols (4-2) 9-6; and Sherry Just/Tyrel Griffith (3-3) improved to .500 with an 8-7 win against Jill Officer/Reid Carruthers (4-2).

Wednesday evening’s round robin concluded with Draw 12 where Carey/Hodsgon needed just six ends to defeat Kalynn Park/Charley Thomas 7-1; Crocker/Walker were three down in the last end and scored four to defeat Lawes/Morris; Sweeting/Gushue escaped with a 5-4 win against Kasner/Kalthoff; and Ferguson/Bottcher bested Westlund-Stewart/Stewart 6-3.

The 2018 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials round robin concludes today with draws at 1:30 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. (all times CST).

The top two teams from each pool, along with the next four teams with the best win-loss records will enter the playoffs. The teams will play in a modified double knockout playoff to decide which four teams qualify for the Page playoff. Tiebreakers, if necessary, will be played Friday morning.

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