(Monday, April 25: 9:30PM) (Publisher’s note: It is an interesting professional challenge to win a significant championship event – but then be the only available person to actually write about it. Forgive me if I cross the line between objective reporter and “wow – we were good”.)

Coutts & Magnusson (r) with CIBC Wood Gundy Rep Andre-Phillippe Caissie

The Manitoba duo of Norm Magnusson and Resby Coutts have won the 2022 edition of the Canadian 2-Person Stick Curling Open Championship in Moncton. A three win Monday, including a pair of extra end victories, earned them the championship, the first under the new sponsorship of CIBC Wood Gundy.

The final game victory over Darren & Darrel Beach (SK) was a story of ‘no quit’. Down 4-0 after two ends, a deuce on the third started a comeback. Single steals on the fourth and sixth, after a blanked fifth, created a tie and extra end.

Under the 2-person sport’s unique rules, there is no hitting until the fourth rock of the end. A centre guard was followed by a draw top eight foot behind the guard. Three times, the Saskatchewan team removed the guard but missed the runback. Three times the guard was replaced. With his last rock of the extra end, Magnusson’s final draw attempt slid deep, coming to rest almost perfectly beside the shot stone. It was a deceptively difficult double kill. The hit overcurled to the nose of one of them, leaving a third steal and a 5-4 championship win.

The key to both the quarterfinal and semifinal wins was the Magnusson-Coutts ability to score a single deuce in each game. In the six rocks-six end game, a two is a big score to overcome. In both games, Magnusson made the key shots. The quarterfinal saw him bite the rings behind a wide corner guard – a rock that was “in” for 2 on a measure after he had an open draw to the rings with his last rock on the second end. In the semifinal, it was a wide out-turn hit past a guard about three feet from the wall that Magnusson ‘stuck’ for the deuce. On that remarkable shot, he nose hit a rock in the full 12 ft circle which was almost fully buried behind the guard.

In the quarterfinal, John Marshall & Haylett Clarke (NS) followed with a single and a steal of one to tie after four ends. A blanked fifth end led to a single, and 3-2 win, without having to throw the last stone coming home.

The semi followed the same pattern, the deuce against former champions Dave McDougal & Paul Doucet (NS) was followed by a single and a steal of one to tie after six ends. In the extra end, again the last rock was not needed for a 4-3 win.

It was almost a Manitoba final. The Manitoba duo of Warren Johnson & Dan McDonald lost the semi-final to the Beach team from Saskatchewan after a quarterfinal victory over Bob Desnoyers & Shawn Sherwood (SK).

In the Women’s Championship final, Betty Matson & Audrey Dorey (NS) were 5-4 extra end winners over Elaine Hughes & Etta Reid (PEI).

Coutts (l) & Magnusson (5W-1L) (Curl Moncton Photo)

(Sunday, April 24: 8:30PM) TWO MANITOBA TEAMS ADVANCE TO CANADIAN STICK CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFFS Manitoba teams of Warren Johnson & Dan McDonald and Norm Magnusson & Resby Coutts have survived to play in the Monday OPEN Championship round in Moncton.

Magnusson-Coutts won a pair of games on Sunday, including a last round showdown with Shawn Sherwood & Bob Desnoyers (Saskatchewan) who were undefeated. Both finished with 5W-1L records but the Manitobans’ victory earns them a bye to the 10AM quarter-finals while Sherwood-Desnoyers had to win a first round playoff game at 8:30PM.

Dan McDonald (l) & Warren Johnson (4W-2L) Curl Moncton Photo

Johnson-McDonald pulled off an early Sunday win over Martin Purvis & Jack Smart (Alberta) to improve to 4W-2L. Then they had to wait nervously for the rest of the group’s results throughout the day. In the end, the early win had earned them third place in the pool.

The Manitoba ‘shot of the day’ has to be ‘shots of the day’ by Dan McDonald as he and Warren Johnson followed a three on the fifth end with a steal and their fourth victory to earn the playoff berth.

As described by Warren after the game, Dan’s precision shooting got them shot stone behind a couple of well placed guards. The opponent’s attempted hit and roll rolled out leaving the steal.

Along with Magnusson-Coutts, the pool winners were AJ Scott & Greg Lowe (SK), former champions Dave McDougal & Paul Doucet (NS), and Darren & Darrel Beach (SK). McDougal & Doucet were the only undefeated team in round-robin play.

In total in the Open playoffs, there are team from Saskatchewan (3), Alberta, Manitoba, BC and Nova Scotia (2 each), and one from Prince Edward Island.

Johnson-McDonald needed an extra in the Sunday evening playoff round to advance to the Monday quarter-finals. They posted a 6-4 win over Desnoyers-Sherwood (SK). The Manitobans will play AJ Scott & Greg Lowe (SK); Magnusson-Coutts will play John Marshall-Haylett-Clarke (NS); Darren & Darrel Beach (SK) meet John Dunsford-Myrna Sanderson (PEI); and Dave McDougal & Paul Doucet (NS) play Darrel Sears-Wayne Heinrichs (BC).

The four team Women’s playoff round will feature teams from Alberta (2), Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island

Manitobans Fred & Britta Spiring (3W-3L) and Tom & Rae Campbell (2W-3L) both missed the playoffs in the Open Championship. Gwen Smith & Lynne Rehbein (3W-4L) missed the playoffs in the Women’s Championship.

Gwen Smith (l) & Lynne Rehbein (Curl Moncton Photo)

(Updated Sunday, April 24: 7AM) MANITOBA TEAMS STILL IN THE PLAYOFF CHASE AT STICK CHAMPIONSHIP After an 0-2 opening day, Gwen Smith & Lynne Rehbein jumped back into contention in the Canadian Stick Championship Women’s Division in Moncton with a three victories Saturday. Rehbein gets the Manitoba ‘shot of the day’ award for her last shot on the opening day of the first game on the early draw. Facing four with her last shot, Rehbein’s double kill rolled to the face of an opposition stone to create a steal.

The shot killed the very early momentum of their BC opponent enroute to an 8-1 win which was followed later by a 6-2 win over a PEI duo. At 2-2 with three games to play, Smith-Rehbein had moved into the fourth playoff position. They solidified the position on the late draw with a third victory. With Sunday games against two teams below them in the standings, they control their own playoff fate.

In the Open Division, Warren Johnson & Dan McDonald had a two win day Saturday. Their 2-1 Saturday gives them a 3-2 record with a game to play Sunday. They currently hold down the third playoff position from their pool.

The Manitoba group in Moncton:
(l-r) Warren Johnson, Lynne Rehbein, Dan McDonald, Gwen Smith, Fred Spiring, Tom Campbell, Britta Spiring, Resby Coutts (the tall one behind), Rae Campbell, Norm Magnusson

Magnusson & Coutts split two games Saturday and, with two to play on Sunday, have a 3-1 record and hold the second playoff position from the pool.

Britta & Fred Spiring lost three on Saturday after a two wins first day. At 2-3, the chance of them advancing is slim but still exists based on the right combination of wins & losses on Sunday.

Tom & Rae Campbell lost two Saturday. at 1-3, the former Canadian champions will miss the playoff round.

(Friday, April 22: 8PM) MANITOBA TEAMS 6W-4L ON FIRST DAY OF STICK CHAMPIONSHIP A pair of Manitoba teams won two games on opening day at the Canadian Stick Curling Championship, two teams went 1W-1L, and one had a tough day with two losses.

The team of Britta and Fred Spiring and the Norm Magnusson-R. Coutts duo are the first teams to post 2W-0L records in their respective seven-team pools.

Warren Johnson & Dan McDonald and Tom & Rae Campbell both won their openers but lost their second games of the day and sit in the middle of the pack in their groups.

The four teams are all competing in the Canadian Open Championship. Tom & Rae Campbell won the championship in 2018. Warren Johnson won it in 2012 with Earl Stephenson.

Tom Campbell gets the ‘shot of the day’ award, at least among the Manitoba teams. Down one coming home in their first game, the Campbells elected to play a difficult double kill rather than draw the eight foot for a tie and extra end. He had a stone of his own near frozen to the shot rock. His big weight hit sprung off his own stone, killing the shot rock and his delivered stone doubled out the second shot rock. He stuck in the top of the 12 foot for second shot and the win.

In the Women’s Championship, Gwen Smith & Lynne Rehbein lost a pair of close games. Gwen Smith gets honorable mention in the ‘shot of the day contest. On ice curling over two feet with good hit weight, Smith threw a nose hit kill on a rock in the four foot that was over-buried by over a foot. From the lobby side, it was obvious that centre line guard was no where near the line to protect the shot stone. From the throwing end, Smith just had to believe what she knew should happen.

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