THUNDER BAY – Dylan Johnston's two-time defending champion Tbaytel Major League of Curling team is at it again.
The foursome was locked in a low-scoring battle on Wednesday night against Ron Rosengren, but remained patient throughout the match and took advantage of a pair of opportunities late in the contest to score doubles in the fifth and seventh ends to pull out a 5-2 win at the Port Arthur Curling Club.
It's always a struggle in Week 1, Johnston said.
“It felt good. We were a little rusty in the first few ends, but we pulled it together,” said Johnston, who played a game of cat-and-mouse with Rosengren, a new Major League team in 2022-23, just waiting for the right time to pounce.
“We were setting up for multiple points each end, but each team would just make a huge double takeout and that would be it for the end, it would be a blank end and it was on to the next one.”
Johnston, who has been to the provincial playdown final, said he doesn’t mind playing with a bit of a target on his team’s back, as is often the case for the squad with the trophy on its mantelpiece.
“There’s going to be some pressure, because everyone wants to beat us,” he said. “It would be nice to three-peat, but it’s very tough. Major League is a very tough field this year, it should be some good curling.”
The Johnston foursome, which includes Brennan Wark, Chris Briand and Jordan Potter, wasn’t the only team that got off to a slow start points-wise on Wednesday night.
Krista McCarville, the reigning silver medalists at the Scott Tournament of Hearts, found themselves down 2-1 to newcomer Jodi Judd’s rink, after McCarville missed a chance to score four with her final stone in the third, instead serving up a steal of one for her opponent.
But McCarville, Sarah Potts, Ashley Sippala and Oye-Sem Won stole a deuce in the fifth to go up 3-2 and picked up two more in the seventh to open the season with a 5-3 win.
“It was a really good game. Being out there on the ice felt really good. It’s nice to have a tight one. You want a little bit of leeway here and there. Playing Major League is always fun. The teams that are out here are always competitive. They want to win. This is the competition we want to play against,” said McCarville, who leaves Monday for Grand Prairie, Alta. To play in the B-side of the Hearing Life Tour Challenge, a Grand Slam of Curling event.
Perennial contender Trevor Bonot also pulled out a squeaker, needing to hit a partially buried Kory Karr stone on the four-foot to score two and a 6-4 triumph.
It’s all about getting into a rhythm.
“We’ve played each other a lot and kind of know what to expect. The difference today was who had last rock coming home. It was a back-and-forth battle and it just worked out that we had the last rock,” Bonot said.
In other action, Denis Malette downed Bryan Burgess 8-1, Al Hackner made easy work of Nicole Westlund-Stewart, winning 9-2, Dallas Burgess doubled up Ben Mikkelsen 4-2 and Brian Adams Jr. knocked off Gary Weiss 7-3.