Buchan advances to national mixed curling playdowns

The last time Chris Buchan made a trip to Fort Frances to curl, he earned a berth to the Brier.
After Saturday’s 11-6 win over Dave MacInnes in the final of the provincial mixed playdowns here, Buchan once again will be off in search of a national title.
With two provincial titles in three years curling on Fort Frances ice, it’s probably safe to say he must like it here.
But what Buchan–and his rink of Kelly McLellan (third), Greg McLellan (second), and Linda Sloane (lead)–like more is the chance to win a Canadian championship Jan. 9-17 in Victoria, B.C.
Buchan, hailing from Sault Ste. Marie, jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on MacInnes (Timmins) in the first end of the final, then increased that lead to 5-1 after three and 7-2 after five.
“In mixed curling, it’s wide open with lots of rocks in play,” said Buchan, who threw skip’s rocks for Mike Coulter at the Brier in Winnipeg last year.
“We happened to have a couple of two and three-enders, and then were able to keep the opposition to just one,” he noted.
Buchan praised the play of both his second and his lead, who were both named to the all-star team (Thunder Bay’s Judy Rutherford and MacInnes were the other two all-stars at third and skip respectively).
“When your first two players make the majority of their shots, it makes the shots for the third and myself easier,” said Buchan, whose rink lost their opening game 5-4 to fellow Soo curler Paul Nason last Thursday afternoon before going undefeated the rest of the way.
They beat MacInnes 11-3 in the second draw Thursday night, then reeled off wins against Brian Burgess (9-8), Victor Mitchell (9-8), and Raymond Roy (10-6) to end up tied with MacInnes at 4-1 after the round-robin portion.
That gave both those rinks a berth in Saturday afternoon’s final, which Buchan took with relative ease.
Buchan said the key was their ability to stay calm under the pressure of playing in a provincial playdown against what he called a very strong field–something he attributed to their experience.
He also noted their win over Burgess on Friday afternoon was the turning point for his rink. Trailing 8-7 with the hammer in the last end, Buchan scored a pair to steal the slim victory–handing the Lakehead foursome their first loss and consequently changing the momentum of the playdowns.
“With him being 2-0, it was important because the loss brought him down to 2-1 and [that] made everybody closer,” Buchan said. “Burgess was playing well, and I had to make some good shots as well just to keep pace.”