Some losses are tougher to take than others.
Local curler Raymond Roy found himself in prime position to advance to the final of the Northern Ontario senior men’s playdowns last weekend after jumping out to a 3-0 start.
But the Fort Frances rink—also comprised of third Don DeBenedet, second Dave Bondett, and lead Paul Fraser—lost their final two games of the round-robin in heart-breaking fashion to miss out on a shot to advance to the nationals.
“We curled very well and we just lost two tight games at the end,” Roy said Monday. “That’s it.”
Roy appeared to have a berth in the final all but sewn up as he got ready to face Wayne Matheson’s winless Copper Creek rink Friday afternoon.
A win would have given Roy a 4-0 record and assured him a spot in Saturday night’s final despite the fact he still had one round-robin game to be played.
The game started according to plan, with Roy holding a 6-4 advantage through eight ends.
He couldn’t nail down the much-needed victory, however, as Matheson scored a deuce in the ninth and then stole a single in the 10th to pull out the 7-6 come-from-behind win.
“That one hurt,” Roy remarked. “They were a good team, but we should have beaten them and we didn’t.
“We had the lead and he stole one in the 10th end.
“It’s a tough game because the team played so well and it came down to one shot from the skip and I missed,” he added. “That’s why it’s so disappointing.
“If we had gotten dominated, well then, they would have been a better team.”
But while Roy lamented the fact his rink had lost, he was quick to praise his opponent.
“All the teams are good teams,” he noted. “Just because they hadn’t won a game [up to that point] doesn’t mean they weren’t any good. Everybody is good so you have to take it one game at a time.
“Don’t take anything away from Matheson,” Roy stressed. “Everybody had to win quite a few games to get to the provincials. Nobody got a free ride.”
The loss to Matheson created a three-way tie atop the standings between Roy, Bud O’Donnell (Sudbury), and Chris Milks (Englehart)—each team owning a 3-1 record with one game to play.
O’Donnell was slated to face Bob Hardy (Iroquois Falls) while Roy would take on Milks.
The pressure mounted for the Fort Frances rink as O’Donnell cruised to an easy 10-1 win over Hardy in just five ends, meaning Roy now had to beat Milks if he was to advance to the final.
Roy’s aspirations appeared to be in trouble early on as Milks took a commanding 4-1 lead through five ends. But the Fort Frances rink rallied with a four-ender in the sixth to grab a 5-4 advantage.
Milks refused to go quietly, though, as he scored a single in the eighth to tie the game and then another in the 10th to pull out the victory and eliminate Roy from further contention.
“If the skip misses his last shot, you’re going to lose and that’s what happened,” Roy said.
“I missed against Matheson with my last shot and I missed against Milks,” he added. “Really, it just came down to the last shot in both those games.
“We had control of the game, it was a tight game, and both teams were playing quite well, obviously.”
To make matters worse, O’Donnell went on to beat Milks 8-5 in the final Saturday night to earn the right to represent Northern Ontario at the Canadian senior men’s playdowns March 18-25 in Trois Rivières, Que.
While nothing is ever cast in stone, Roy would have liked his rink’s chances against O’Donnell given they had defeated them in the round-robin.
“We have a really good team and we’d already played O’Donnell in the round-robin and beaten him, so we just needed another shot at him in the final game,” he lamented.
“We know that we could have, and should have, but didn’t,” he added. “All we had to do was win either one of those games.”
Although Roy narrowly missed out on the chance to advance to the nationals, he’s uncertain whether he’ll make another run at the title next year.
“It’s hard to say,” he remarked. “Things change pretty quickly. We’re a good team, you’d hate to just give it up, but I’ve been to nine provincials [men’s and seniors’] and no nationals. That’s not a good record.
“It’s tough at this stage in your career because we’re not as competitive as we were when we played in men’s leagues,” he noted. “It’s competitive, but it’s more social now.
“You still want to win because it’s in your blood but I don’t know. It’s too soon,” he added.
“Certainly if the provincials are in our area next year, we might take another run at it. That will be a big factor because all this travel is too much.”
< *c>Tournament recap
Roy began his quest for the provincial crown with a pair of wins last Thursday.
He held a slim 5-4 lead through seven ends over Larry Chepesiuk (Port Arthur) in his opening draw, then blew the game open with a five-ender in the eighth en route to the 10-4 victory.
The Fort Frances rink then continued their strong play in the nightcap, scoring three in each of the second, third, and fourth ends against Bob Hardy (Iroquois Falls) en route to a 9-1 triumph.
Roy added to his win total on Friday morning. He built a big early lead against O’Donnell, scoring four in the second end, and then held on for a 8-4 victory and a 3-0 record heading into his match against Matheson.
Some losses are tougher to take than others.