PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, MAN. — There will be a golden opportunity for three Olympic gold-medallists to make a return trip through the 2018 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Trials.
Kaitlyn Lawes (Winnipeg) and John Morris (Canmore, Alta.) defeated Jocelyn Peterman (Calgary) and Brett Gallant (St. John’s) 7-3 in the semifinal on Saturday night and advance to the final.
Sunday’s final is filled with Olympic talent. Lawes and Morris, the 2014 and 2010 women’s and men’s Olympic gold-medallists respectively, take on 2006 Olympic gold-medallist Brad Gushue (St. John’s) and his partner Val Sweeting (Edmonton) at 1:30 p.m. CT. The winner will go to Pyeongchang, South Korea, as Canada’s first mixed doubles curling team.
“It would be a dream come true,” Lawes said of the opportunity. “We’re focused on trying to make our shots and hopefully we have that hammer coming home in the last end. I think it’s going to be a great game tomorrow.”
“We’re not looking anything past Brad and Val tomorrow. They’re formidable opponents and we’re just going to do what we can to prepare for tomorrow,” said Morris.
Lawes/Morris started the game with an opportunity for three. Lawes’ draw shot didn’t curl far enough to the centre to sit third shot leaving the pair with a deuce in the first end.
The second end was complicated and every rock was in play by the time Peterman threw her final brick. She and Gallant called a runback that had potential to score a few points, but it wrecked out front on a guard, which restricted them to one point.
Peterman/Gallant clipped a guard on their final hit of the third end, leaving Lawes/Morris laying two. While there was a shot for three, Lawes/Morris couldn’t covert it and took a 4-1 lead.
Peterman/Gallant cut into the lead in the fourth end. They had a chance to score two on their last rock with a runback, but couldn’t get the Lawes/Morris stone out of the way. That halved the lead to 4-2 in favour of Lawes/Morris.
Peterman/Gallant, the 2016 national mixed doubles champions, had a good opportunity to steal in the fifth. Their final guard over-curled and left a port for Lawes. She threw a high-hard double to score her team two and take a 6-2 lead.
“It was nice just being able to hold the broom and watch her catch up to some of her rocks,” Morris said. “She threw them so pure that she didn’t really need to sweep much.”
In need of slowing down the game, Peterman/Gallant went on the power play in the sixth end. It looked like they were setting up for a couple of points, but momentum shifted after Gallant rolled his shooter out of the house on a hit. Lawes cranked a double, which forced Peterman to draw for one. Lawes/Morris tacked on a point in the seventh.
The loss ends Peterman and Gallant’s pursuit to wear the Maple Leaf in mixed doubles, but they will continue the pursuit of representing Canada on the world stage on their four player teams. Peterman plays second for Carey and they will make a run at representing Alberta at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, while Gallant will be back at the Tim Hortons Brier with Gushue as Team Canada; he’ll also be with Team Gushue at the 2018 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Service Experts, which begins Thursday in London, Ont.
“We had a great week,” Gallant said. He and Peterman won the 3 vs. 4 game by defeating another pair of Olympians: Jennifer Jones and Mark Nichols. “We curled really well throughout the entire event, but John and Kaitlyn were slightly sharper than us today.”