A MANITOBA CURLING FIRST FOR TEAM ZACHARIAS

Fair to the other team members or not, the inevitable comparisons in curling always seem to be made between the skips – especially when it comes to historical records.

Not only did new Scotties champion skip Mackenzie Zacharias share the ice with Darcy Robertson, she shares a spot in Manitoba curling history as well

The reason is simple – it is easy! A little easier than comparing thirds – a lot easier than comparing thirds with leads.  Easy because the two names are attached to the team and that’s the identity that mostly shows up in articles like this. Also easy because their name always comes first on the historical record list.

The story idea started from the realization that just two curling seasons ago, Mackenzie Zacharias (and her entire team) had won the Manitoba, Canadian, and World Juniors.

Who was the last Manitoba World Junior champion to win the Manitoba women’s or men’s provincial title?

Answer? It has never happened? Kelly MacKenzie (Scott), of course, won a BC women’s and went on to win the world title – but not Manitoba. Bob Ursel, David Hamblin, Braden Calvert: none of them won the Manitoba men’s although it is fair to say that Calvert still could.

So what about Canadian Junior champions – and did anyone do it in the second season after winning the Canadian Junior?

Answer? Go back almost 40 years. Darcy Kirkness skipped the 1984 Manitoba and Canadian Junior champion team (before there was a world championship so they had no chance there!). Her team of Barb Kirkness, Janet Harvey and Barb Fetch won Manitoba and Canada.  In 1986, the Kirkness sisters and Barb Fetch (with Faye Irwin) won the Manitoba women’s title. That’s the same second season after the junior championship as with the Zacharias sisters – and it would be splitting hairs to suggest the December timing this year means the Altona team actually did it a little sooner.

For those who don’t recognize the name – that’s the same Darcy Robertson as was competing this year in Carberry.

So Team Zacharias of 2020 and 2022 shares the accomplishment of winning “soonest after Canadian Junior title” with Team Kirkness of 1984 & 1986 (in Manitoba curling!).

However, Team Zacharias stands alone in Manitoba curling history in one regard. Mackenzie & Emily Zacharias, Karlee Burgess, and Lauren Lenentine are the ONLY intact Manitoba Junior Champion team, ever, to go on and win a Manitoba Women’s or Men’s championship.

SCOTTIES FINAL: TEAM ZACHARIAS IS THE CHAMPION

END 10: Zacharias lead Lauren Lenetine made two perfect tick shots, moving one guard to within 18 inches of the wall and the other to about two inches from the wall. Second Emily Zacharias followed with a hit & roll for a biter behind Lenetine’s two stones which had rolled nearly out of play themselves. From there, Watling threw guards – Zacharias threw peels.

As Zacharias settled in the hack to throw her final shot, she had the security of that biter. SHe didn’t have to stick for the win – but no mistake she hit and stuck for two and the win.

(l-r) Mackenzie Zacharias, Karlee Burgess, Emily Zacharias, Lauren Lenentine – with Coach Sheldon Zacharias are the 2022 Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts Champions

WATLING: Assiniboine Memorial (throwing Red)
002 011 010 2 = 7
ZACHARIAS: Altona (throwing Yellow)
020 100 200 0 =5

END 9: With skips stones to come, Zacharias had one counter, a stone biting the back corner of the 12 foot circle. Watling’s draw to it was a foot short and angled, allowing Zacharias to blast it out. After a time out, Watling elected to play the hit to remove the Zacharias counter. She rolled to bite the back of the rings at the centre line and Zacharias blanked.

END 8: A Watling hit & roll facing four resulted in one and a tie

END 8: A Zacharias centre guard and a Watling draw behind it to the front edge of the button and the game was on. As Watling went to throw her last rock, she faced four Zacharias counters but they were all around the 12 foot circle. A hit and roll from the outside to the four foot gave Watling a single point and a tie.

END 7: Zacharias, with her first stone, squeaked past a corner guard to remove a Watling stone and roll buried. She had two behind the guard, forcing Watling to play a runback. She removed one Zacharias stone but left the skip a draw for two – a draw which had to be full 12 foot and just made with full sweeping.

END 6: With her last rock, Zacharias attempted to tap the red shot stone past her own for a possible two – but jammed.

END 6: The first four stones were ‘by the book’. Watling opened the end with a stone on the centre line biting the eight foot circle. A Zacharias corner. A Watling centre guard bit the rings and Zacharias went behind her own corner guard. As the end unfolded, Watling with her last rock had an outside raise opportunity on her own stone in the front corner of the 12 foot circle. Zacharias had two counters angles behind it. Watling killed one and rolled for shot stone – leaving Zacharias a delicate shot to angle the shot stone past her own and possibly count two. She curled up too much and the jam resulted in a Watling steal of one and the first lead of the game for the Winnipeg team.

END 5: A first stone Watling double kill attempt jammed on her own stone in the back 12 foot circle leaving Zacharias lying second shot stone. She removed the shot stone and Watling was forced to hot for a single. And a tie (3-3) at the mid-game break.

END 4: The Zacharias out-turn draw across the centre line had to curl past the guard and the Watling stone on the centre line in the eight foot

END 4: Watling controlled play and had Zacharias in trouble. Facing three, Zacharias played a tricky draw that had to curl past a mid-high guard, and a rock in the top eight foot, to count one in the four foot circle.

END 3: Zacharias’ first rock in the four foot and as the end played out looked positioned to steal a single. Watling with her first stone cleared three centre guards, rolling one of her own to bite the rings as third shot. Zacharias considered a guard on her own shot rock but cautiously elected to hit the biter and roll for a guard. She did not get the roll and Watling hit for two.

END 2: A perfect draw behind her own guard and a second draw to the four foot for a deuce for Zacharias

END 2: A Watling corner and a Zacharias rock almost biting the 12 foot circle were the only “clutter’ when Zacharias went to the hack to throw her first stone. She threw a perfect draw the top corner of the four foot – fully buried behind her own stone. Watling drew to it but was about an inch short of perfect. Zacharias drew full four foot for a pair.

END 1: In the semi-final, there were exactly 14 rocks in play at the conclusion of the opening end. A different story in the final – a simple, clean end. Mackenzie Zacharias and her young Altona team, who are still the reigning World Junior Champions, had a simple out-turn hit up the centre line to blank.

ZACHARIAS #1; WATLING, JONES TO MEET IN SEMI-FINAL

(Carberry Draw 13: December 18) The final round of play in the Carberry Scotties Tournament of Hearts presented by Bayer ended in dramatic fashion Saturday afternoon.

The fate of every team depended on the outcome of their own game. Three also depended on the outcome of the game on Sheet A.

Mackenzie Zacharias controlled her own fate. She had to beat Kaitlyn Jones to advance to the Sunday playoff round.

Darcy Robertson had to beat Kristy Watling, to force a tie if Zacharias lost.

Tracy Fleury and Kristy McDonald played each other – the winner would also be in the tie if Zacharias lost.

The result was three entertaining games which went to the final shots.

Robertson, up one coming home without hammer, made a perfect draw to the four-foot circle behind her own rock biting the front of the rings. Watling had no choice but to play the run-double kill. She failed and Robertson had done her job – winning 7-5.

McDonald led Fleury 9-6 coming home and Fleury had hammer. With her final stone, McDonald faced four and played a double kill but nose hit, allowing Fleury a draw for 4 and victory. Fleury had done her job – winning 10-9.

But Zacharias broke their hearts – drawing to the button with her last shot coming home and a 6-5 win over Jones.

Jones, Watling and Zacharias advance to the Sunday playoffs. Zacharias owns the bye to the final as her team beat the other two in their preliminary round meetings.

(Carberry Draw 12: December 18) WATLING, JONES ADVANCE TO SUNDAY PLAYOFFS … The Kaitlyn Jones/Abby Ackland team and Kristy Watling have improved their records to 6W-1L and the two are assured of advancing to tomorrow’s playoff round. Mackenzie Zacharias improved to 5W-2L and, with a win later Saturday, willbe the third team in the playoffs.

If Zacharias loses, the chase for the third spot will be wide open as the other three teams all have 4W-3L records.

Robertson tasted defeat first Saturday moring. It was indicative of Darcy Robertson’s day that on the fourth end, Robertson had a rock full in the back of the four-foot circle and yet Jones had an open draw to the front half of the four foot circle for four. It was the Jones/Ackland foursome’s second four of the game as they opened with a four as well. Robertson fought back to trail 9-6 after six but a “go-for-it” seventh went wrong and a big score ended the game.

Jones 410 400 5x =14
Robertson 002 031 0x =6

Team Watling lead Sarah Pyke delivers

Trailing 3-1 playing the fourth, Watling looked to be setting up a deuce but Kristy McDonald drew to the eight foot partly open but angled onto a Watling rock biting the back of the eight foot. Watling tried to blast it out but left a steal of one and trailed 4-1. On the fifth end, facing three, McDonald’s last stone draw to a Watling stone in the back of the four foot was just heavy and rolled open allowing Watling a hit for four and a 5-4 lead at the mid-game break. The Watling foursome controlled play from there and led 10-6 playing the ninth enroute to a 10-7 victory.

McDonald 201 100 201 x =7
Watling 010 043 020 x =10

In the game between Mackenzie Zacharias and Tracy Fleury, the two teams which had come into the championship round at 3W-2L, Team Zacharias posted their second consecutive win and effectively ended the Team Fleury run. Zacharias established a 6-2 lead after five ends and controlled play from there although she had to make a saving angle raise takeout with her first stone facing three on the eighth end. The end result was a stolen point when Fleury was unable to remove a pair of counters. A deuce on end nine got Fleury within two and she was laying three when Zacharias delievered her final stone of the game. A well placed Fleury final draw meant Zacharias had to hit and roll in to win – she made no mistake.

Zacharias 203 010 110 1 =9
Fleury 010 102 002 0 =6

On the 4PM draw, Zachaias plays Jones, Watling plays Robertson, and McDonald plays Fleury

(Carberry Draw 11: December 17) WATLING, JONES AT 5W-1L, FOUR AT 4W-2L .. Coming into the championship round at the Carberry Scotties with a 3W-2L record, Mackenzie Zacharias and her young Altona knew they faced the daunting task of probably having to win three games in a row to reach the playoffs.

Karlee Burgess & Emily Zacharias sweep a Mackenzie Zacharias draw.

They started the quest decisively, scoring four multiple ends in the first five to post a 10-2 short game victory over previously unbeaten Kristy Watling.

The big shot of the game was an angle raise takeout on the third end by skip Mackenzie Zacharias for a three and a three point lead.

Zacharias 203 32x =10
Watling 020 00x =2

The Watling loss brings her back into a tie with Kaitlyn Jones/Abby Ackland who defeated the Kristy McDonald team. McDonald took a two point lead on the sixth end with a last rock draw to bite the four foot, a draw which took maximum effort by her sweepers but Jones/Ackland scored singles in the next two ends to tie at 4-4 after eight ends. McDonald was forced to one on the ninth and Kaitlyn Jones made no mistake on her tenth end last shot tap on a stone in the back four foot for two and a 6-5 win.

McDonald 100 102 001 0 =5
Jones 001 010 110 2 =6

Like Zacharias, top seeded Tracy Fleury came into this round at 3W-2L and needs a trio of victories. She got the first Friday evening with a win over Darcy Robertson. Leading all the way, Fleury was up 6-4 coming home and had a last rock open hit for a 7-4 win. Fleury and Robertson are now tied with Zacharias at 4W-2L.

Darcy Robertson 010 101 001 0 =4
Tracy Fleury 102 020 010 1 = 7

CARBERRY SCOTTIES DAY 2 SUMMARY (DRAW 5, 6, 7, 8 REPORTS)

(Carberry Draw #8: December 16) ROBERTSON, MCDONALD ADVANCE TO NEXT ROUND: ONE SPOT LEFT … Former champion Kristy McDonald had a great day personally Thursday at the Scotties in Carberry. On the noon draw she won the game with a last draw freeze on the button. On the late draw, she won her team the first end hammer by covering the pinhole in the pre-game draw contest for hammer.

McDonald takes aim in a short game win over Zacharias

Winning last shot, however, is not as important as what you do with it. McDonald used it to make a final shot angled run-back on a rock halfway to the house – onto a pair of Mackenzie Zacharias stones in the four foot. The double kill turned trouble into a four-ender from which the young Altona team never recovered.

Zacharias scored a deuce on the second end but gave up five more on the fourth in a 9-3 short game victory. McDonald’s record is now 3W-1L with a game to play.

Zacharias 020 01x =3
McDonald 400 50x =9

The Zacharias foursome faces a must-win game tomorrow if they wish to advance to the championship.

Robertson

Early on the game for first place in the pool, between Beth Peterson and Darcy Robertson (both Assiniboine Memorial), looked to be going Peterson’s way. They scored a single to open the game then stole one when Peterson made a hit and roll behind cover and watched Robertson slide deep with her draw. From there however the game went Robertson’s way, scoring six over the next four ends to lead 6-3 enroute to an 8-6 win. Team Robertson stays undefeated while Peterson drops to 2W-2L, tied with Zacharias.

Peterson 110 100 201 0 =6
Robertson 003 021 010 1 =8

In a game with local bragging rights on the line, Terry Ursel (Neepawa) and Alyssa Calvert (Carberry) met, both hoping to end their winless string at this year’s championship. The game was going in Ursel’s favour until Calvert scored a four on the ninth to tie coming home but the Ursel team recovered to score one and an 8-7 victory.

Calvert 110 010 004 0 =7
Ursel 003 201 010 1 =8

At 4W-0L, Robertson will advance to the championship round as will McDonald at 3W-2L. The third team advancing from this pool will be the final game winner between Zacharias and Peterson.

(Carberry Draw #7: December 16) WATLING, JONES, FLEURY ADVANCE TO NEXT ROUND ..The two unbeaten teams in the group met on Sheet A today in their next to last round-robin draw at the Carberry Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Both from Assiniboine Memorial, Kristy Watling and Kaitlyn Jones (skipped by Abby Ackland), Jones built a 3 point, 2 end lead but Watling authored a comeback win.

Abby Ackland looks on as Hailey Ryan watches Kristy Watling’s ninth end final draw approach. A freeze to the back red stone set up a steal.

The ninth end was pivotal. Tied 4-4 with hammer, Team Jones gave up a steal of one. To set up the steal, Watling drew the four foot facing two and watched Jones slide deep to give up the steal. The tenth saw the same storyline. Facing two, Jones had a last rock draw that needed to almost bite the four foot. She slid deep again as the rock had to be swept to try to curl it past a guard and the weight didn’t come off fast enough once past that guard.

Jones 120 010 000 0 =4
Watling 001 101 011 2 =7

Watling improves to 4W-0L while Jones is 3W-1L. The result of the game could be critical in determination of the first place team advancing from the championship round to the playoffs.

Needing a win to stay even with the loser of the Jones-Watling game, top seeded Tracey Fleury (East St. Paul) delivered, scoring an 8-4 victory over Jennifer Clark-Rouire (Miami). Fleury’s record is now 3W-1L while Clark-Rouire is still winless.

Fleury 030 011 021 x =8
Clark-Rouire 100 200 100 x =4

Gaining experience with each game, Meghan Walter (East St. Paul) and Shae Bevan (St. Vital) met in the third game on the 4PM draw. Up two coming home, and facing two Bevan stones in the four foot, Walter’s last shot runback attempt did not work out and Bevan drew for a third point and the teams’s first win. The Walter record falls to 1W-3L.

Walter 010 200 011 0 =5
Bevan 001 001 100 3 =6

With one game left to play in the round-robin, the Watling, Jones and Fleury teams are assured of advancing to the championship round from this pool.

(Carberry Draw #6: December 16) ROBERTSON AT 3W-0L, THREE AT 2W-1L ..The noon draw at the Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts presented by Bayer offered three much more competitive games than had been played on the opening draw Thursday.

Results of Draw #6 in Carberry put Darcy Robertson (Assiniboine Memorial) in first place at 3W-2L with three teams right behind at 2W-1L. Kristy McDonald (Granite), Beth Peterson (Assiniboine Memorial), and Mackenzie Zacharias (Altona) all share second place in the pool.

Third Lisa Blixhavn eyes the line on the Kristy McDonald 7th end triple kill

McDonald set up her win with a triple kill to count two on the seventh end, but the game winner was her clutch last shot coming home draw to the button.

The game winning draw – no contact on the yellow Peterson the back of the button

That draw came to rest near frozen to a Beth Peterson (Assiniboine Memorial) stone on the back of the button. Peterson attempted to negotiate a narrow port with a hit but there is question whether the McDonald stone could be removed. We’ll never know. McDonald stole for a 10-8 victory.

McDonald 011 040 201 1 = 10
Peterson 200 301 020 0 =8

The local team skipped by Alyssa Calvert gave Team Zacharias all they could handle. Tied coming home, Zacharias nose hit a centre guard peel attempt, allowing Calvert to draw behind. She reached the full eight foot so Zacharias just had to be a little better with her final stone of the end. The young Altona skip teased the local fans as her draw slid through the four foot circle but came to rest as shot stone in the back eight-foot.

Zacharias 003 020 000 1 =6
Calvert 110 101 010 0 =5

Terry Ursel’s Neepawa team took their third loss as Team Robertson improved to 3W-0L. Ursel controlled the first half of the game, leading 4-1 after four ends. Robertson fought back to lead 5-4 and forced Ursel to take a single for a 5-5 tie after none ends. Lying second shot, Robertson had an open hit for the 7-5 victory.

Robertson 000 102 110 2 =6
Ursel 102 0101 001 0 =5

(Carberry Draw #5, December 16) WATLING, JONES STAY PERFECT Three teams advance from each group to the championship round of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts presented by Bayer and three teams are separating themselves from the rest in the group which played this morning in Carberry,

The Kristy Watling and Kaitlyn Jones teams (both Assiniboine Memorial) stayed undefeated while top seed Tracey Fleury (East St. Paul) improved to 2W-1L on the morning draw.

The Jons team, skipped by Abby Ackland, posted a shut-out over Shae Bevan (St. Vital) while Watling controlled play in a 10-5 eight end win over Jennifer Clark-Rouire (Miami).

Kristy Watling controlled play through the morning game with Team JCR, skipped by Lisa McLeod

Watling 020 402 02x =10
Clark-Rouire 101 010 20x =5

Jones 212 13x = 9
Bevan 000 00x =0

The Fleury win was also a short game victory over Megham Walter (East St. Paul)

Fleury 202 204 x =10
Walter 010 010 x = 2

At the conclusion of round-robin play, three teams will advance to the championship round from each pool. Their records carry forward with them as they play the three teams from the other pool. The top three after that will advance to the playoff round; #1 direct to the final #’s 2 & 3 to the semi-final.

ZACHARIAS AND WIEBE WIN MANITOBA TOUR TITLES

Mackenzie Zacharias and her Altona team (Karlee Burgess, Emily Zacharias, Lauren Lenentine) were the winners Sunday of the Manitoba Curling Tour final at Thistle – their first MCT Championship.

TEAM ZACHARIAS

The eight team championship was played in two pools of four and Team Zacharias were 2W-1L to advance to the semifinals where they posted a 7-6 extra end victory over Kristy Watling. The final was a short-game victory over Kristy McDonald, who had reached the final with a win over Kim Link and her team, prepping for their upcoming trip to the Canadian Seniors.

Zacharias’ first prize purse is $1,600. Kristy McDonald and her team earn $1,000 toward their season expenses while Kristy Watling and Kim Link’s teams each pick up $700.

In the Men’s MCT final, Ryan Wiebe (Ty Dilello, Sean & Adam Flatt) was a 5-4 winer over Riley Smith. It was a well-played game with a lot of rocks in play and the young men favouring the big weight hits so much on display at the elite level these days.

TEAM WIEBE

Wiebe was in his third game of the day, having beaten Braden Calvert (7-1) in the quarter-final and Corey Chambers (5-2) in the semi-final.

Smith, who had a first round bye to the semi-final, beat Jacques Gauthier (4-2) in the semi-final. Gauthier had beaten Tanner Lott (skipping the Pat Simmons team) in an extra-end (6-5) semi-final.

The final four earned the same prize money as the women’s final four. The quarter-finalist teams both earned $500.

For Wiebe and the Flatt brothers, it was a repeat victory as they had won the previous (2019) MCT title as well.