THUNDER BAY – It’s tough to fault Dallas Burgess for a slow start in his Tbaytel Major League of Curling return.
After all, the 17-year-old St. Ignatius student was coming off a weekend that saw him go 4-0 in round-robin play at the Northern Ontario Under 21 provincial championship in Timmins, downing Sudbury’s Samuel Branconnier 10-6 in the final to earn a spot at the Canadian championship later this month in Saskatoon.
Burgess (1-3) fell behind Britney Malette’s foursome 3-0 after the second end, including surrendering a steal of one after giving up a deuce in the first, but rallied with a pair in the third to close the gap to one. The The Burgess squad, which includes lead Brayden Sinclair, second Matthew Duizer and third Jackson Dubinsky, put plenty of rocks in play in the fourth and when Malette (0-5), who curled third for Abby Deschene’s squad in Timmins, came up short on both of her rocks, leaving Burgess with a steal of three and a 5-3 lead.
Malette, to her credit, battled back with a pair in the fifth, but again struggled with her shot weight in the eighth, trailing 6-5, and came up inches short from tying the match and sending it to a shot-to-the-button extra end, instead giving up a steal of one to drop the match 7-5.
“We knew going into the game that even if (bad) things happened, we’re definitely able to bounce back and play like we know how to and get some points up on the board,” Burgess said. “We knew as long as we kept it close we’d have a chance in the end and we pulled it off.”
Burgess said the win in Timmins has been the highlight of his young curling career, so far.
“It was our first time playing the U21s together, and 10 ends was definitely a big change. But we persevered and played very well and were able to come out on top on the weekend,” said Burgess, the son of local curler Bryan Burgess, who curled with Al Hackner’s 2001 Brier foursome.
Wednesday night’s match, played at the Kakabeka Falls Curling Club, was a great tune-up for Saskatoon. The best part will be following in his father’s footsteps and putting the green and gold Northern Ontario jackets on.
“It’s definitely be a great experience and we’re definitely pumped for going to Saskatoon,” he said.
The Burgess/Malette match wasn’t the only one to go down to the wire. Ben Mikkelsen (3-1) led the elder Burgess 6-3 heading into the eighth, but gave up three without hammer and needed a draw to the button to pull out a 7-6 win and the two points that came with the triumph.
“The last one, you’re kind of so frustrated from the end before that you’re not even thinking about it,’ Mikkelsen said.
“The guys gave me the time, I threw the time and they just watched it go there. It’s nice to have good sweepers out there judging it for me and giving me the right time. It’s devastating whenever you’re controlling the game and give up a big three like that. You’ve just got to reset, knowing you’ve given the three points away, so let’s get the two points. We’ve got to bounce back from something like that.”
In other early draw action, Mike Pozihun (1-4) put up five in the fifth end and downed Jonathan Vellinga 8-3, the two sides shaking hands after six. One sheet over, Al Hackner scored three in the first and never trailed, knocking off Gary Weiss 7-4.
In late draw action, Krista McCarville (4-0) blanked Kent Maarup 7-0, Trevor Bonot downed Kory Carr 7-1 and Dylan Johnston (4-1) got by Mike Desilets 7-2.