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Mikkelsen rallies to win on final shot

In other action, Kory Carr takes over top spot in the Major League of Curling standings with an 8-5 win over Al Hackner.

THUNDER BAY – The Tbaytel Major League of Curling season passed the halfway mark of the season, and teams are quickly realizing from here on in, every win matters.

It’s why Ben Mikkelsen decided on Wednesday night, all but guaranteed a deuce to send it to a shot to the button to break a 5-5 tie, to instead take a chance and took aim at a partially buried Mike Desilets shot in the back 12-foot.

A hit-and-stick would give Mikkelsen three points and a 6-5 triumph.

A miss, or a roll out, and he was still guaranteed a shot to the button for the win, extra ends being done away with in 2021-22 for expediency sake.

“We’ve had a couple of really good games against these guys this year. They’ve been back and forth and tight. Both teams have had those half shots to make it a real tight game. After we gave up two in the seventh we thought OK, here comes another potential extra end,” Mikkelsen said.

“So when we looked at that last shot we knew we just had to go for the three points, to try to get the three points for the (regulation) win and it just worked out our way.”

It’s a game that was almost destined to come down to one final stone.

The two teams kept trading single points, Desliets leading 2-1 after three and 3-2 after five. Tied 3-3 through six, the reigning Northern Ontario senior champion caught a break in the fifth and jumped in front 5-3 with one end to go, but couldn’t hang on.

“A lot has changed with curling and the five-rock rule and you know you have the opportunity to score two,” said Mikkelsen, whose team is 4-3 and tied for ninth in the standings, two of the wins coming on an extra shot.

 “The way our points are now in Major League, you also know that if you’re playing for an extra end you’re not going to get that full shebang.”

Kory Carr’s 8-5 win over Al Hackner, which vaulted him into top spot, a point ahead of Trevor Bonot and four up on Desilets, Dylan Johnston and Krista McCarville, appeared one-sided, but was one he had to work to secure.

After jumping in front 3-0 in the first, Mikkelsen’s team gave up a single in the second and steals of one in the third and fourth to find themselves in a 3-3 contest. One end later Hackner was up by one. But another big end propelled Mikkelsen to the win, a four-spot in the sixth proving to be the difference.

“We were even in trouble in the first when we got three. Al had us on the ropes. We made a couple of good shots and turned it around, but all of a sudden things kind of turned and they started getting one after one after one on us. It almost felt like we couldn’t seem to get anything in the right spot,” Carr said.

“We couldn’t seem to make anything happen. But it felt like just a few bad breaks and we put a good end together in six and held tight.”

Carr improved to 6-2, with 19 points.

Bonot scored deuces in four separate ends en route to an 8-3 win over Mike Pozihun (2-5).

“We felt really comfortable out here tonight. We played here in a mini bonspiel all weekend. We knew the ice and we knew what to expect from certain spots and I think just having that knowledge and control of our hit weights tonight really was the difference.”

In other action, Gary Weiss rallied with four points over his final three ends to tie and edged Bryan Burgess’s team 5-4. Frank Morissette downed Oye-Sem Won’s makeshift team, filling in for Krista McCarville, Sarah Potts and Ashley Sippala, 8-3. Dylan Johnson needed six ends to dispose of Jonathon Vellinga 8-2 and Kent Maarup edged Dallas Burgess’s fill-ins 7-2.

Burgess is at the world junior trials, while McCarville is at the Olympic trials.


Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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