DIGBY – The Nova Scotia men and women have both clinched a spot in the championship round of the Everest Canadian seniors curling championships.
Nova Scotia men's skip Alan O’Leary with Andrew Dauphinee, Danny Christianson and Harold McCarthy of the Dartmouth Curling Club are 5-0 with one game left to play in the round robin tournament.
Nova Scotia is the only undefeated team of the seven in pool B.
Digby is hosting 14 men’s and 14 women’s teams from March 28 to April 2 on five sheets of curling ice in the Digby arena and three sheets in the Digby curling club.
O’Leary’s first game was on the curling club ice.
“We struggled a bit in the first game but we got through that, got a feel for the draw weight and we’ve been getting better as we go,” said O’Leary after his fifth win March 30. “The first game of any spiel is hard. I misread the ice but we know we have to be patient, relax, make our shots.”
O’Leary won that first game against Nunavut 6-5 by scoring one point in the eighth and final end.
Since then he hasn’t had to play a complete game. PEI conceded at 7-1 after six ends, Newfoundland and Labrador conceded after seven ends at 8-4, Quebec conceded after seven ends at 8-3 and New Brunswick conceded after seven ends at 11-4.
“We have a good feel for the draw weight, we’ve kept the pressure on the other teams and we have had some big ends, there always seems to be one,” said O’Leary.
In Nova Scotia’s fifth game, they had three big ends against New Brunswick, scoring three in the third, four in the sixth and three in eighth.
O’Leary’s last game of the round robin is against Bob Ursel of British Columbia, the only team with two games in hand, who could possibly catch Nova Scotia.
“There are no easy games from now on,” said O’Leary. “We play Ursel next, he was a world junior champion so he’s a capable curler and then we meet the top teams from the other pool.”
“It sounds cliché but we have to stay focused and take it one game at a time and get to that final four on Saturday.”
O’Leary, who’s from Dartmouth, says it does help to be playing “at home” in Digby.
“My sister lives in Mavillette and I have three sisters here cheering us on,” he said. “Our wives are here. It’s nice to see the friendly faces and feel all the support.
“It’s great to play here in Digby. We were here for provincials in 2013 and won that. We have good vibes in Digby.”
O’Leary has been playing on the arena ice for the last four games but will play tonight in the curling club again.
“The ice will be maybe a little straighter and there’s about half a second difference,” he said.
Nova Scotia’s women’s team has also clinched a spot in the final eight.
Skip Colleen Jones with Mary Sue Radford, Nancy Delahunt and Kim Kelly are 4-1, and like the men’s team, their final game of the round robin is against British Columbia (2-3) at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
Since losing to Catherine Cunningham of Newfoundland and Labrador on day one, Jones has also finished every game early.
Ontario conceded after seven at 5-1, Manitoba conceded after seven at 7-4 and Nunavut conceded after five at 15-0.
Both men and women are playing round robins with two pools of seven.
The top four teams from each pool advance to the championship pool for draws Thursday, March 31 and Friday, April 1.
The semis and finals are Saturday, April 2.
Saturday is also the Everest Ferbey seniors pro am curling game where four lucky senior curlers from across Canada enjoy the chance to play on teams with Randy Ferbey, Jennifer Jones, Brad Jacobs and ‘Iceman’ Al Hackner.