Jackson rink cold at playdowns

Lorne Jackson set a personal precedent at the Northwestern Ontario playdowns in Thunder Bay last week—one the Fort Frances skip could have done without.
Jackson and his team of third Don DeBenedet, second Derek Jackson, and lead Wayne Beacham failed to reach the double-knockout portion of the playdowns for the first time in their numerous appearances there when they were toppled 8-5 by Ken Anderson (Red Lake) on Friday night.
“We struggled with our shotmaking,” said Jackson. “We also had a tough time with the ice. It was very fast compared to what we’re used to, and very straight.
“That’s not good for our game.”^Jackson opened play Thursday with a 7-2 loss to Jeff Zechner (Nipigon), then was slammed 10-4 by Murray Affleck (Kenora) to push him to the brink of elimination in the triple-knockout portion.
He stayed alive with a tight 6-5 win over Ken Blackwood (Terrace Bay) on Friday afternoon, but fell behind 4-0 to Anderson in his second of three must-win games in a row and never recovered.
Three rinks qualified for the provincial playdowns slated Feb. 4- 10 in Sault Ste. Marie, and there will be one local connection.
Bruce Melville and his team of third Rob Shubat, second Rob Dueck, and lead Gary Champagne, representing the Atikokan Curling Club, beat Bryan Burgess (Thunder Bay) 8-6 to snare one of the three provincial berths.
Melville and his team—all based out of Thunder Bay—took advantage of a loophole in the provincial regulations and signed up to play out of Atikokan this year.
The quartet then won the Zone 7 playdowns at the Fort Frances Curling Club last month to qualify for the northwesterns.
They will join Jeff Currie and Denis Malette, both from the Port Arthur Curling Club in Thunder Bay, in the Soo.
Malette had the most stunning victory of the weekend, eliminating defending provincial champ Scott Henderson in one of the ‘C’ side finals Saturday morning.