Gil Dash and Saskatchewan 1 are through to the championship round at the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship.
The Moose Jaw Curling Centre foursome, which includes third Marie Wright, second Darwin Bender and lead Moose Gibson, capped their preliminary round robin with a 4-1 record thanks to a 6-2 victory over B.C.’s Gerry Austgarden on Wednesday afternoon at the Moose Jaw Curling Centre.
While Dash and crew had locked up their championship pool spot heading into the final draw, there was still the goal of remaining sharp, and Saskatchewan 1 most definitely did that. A steal of three in the fourth was the only multiple-point end, and they’d turn the 4-1 lead heading into the break into a comfortable win.
Now the goal will be to keep the roll going as much as they can.
“I think our whole team has been shooting well, we’re settled in and making shots,” Dash said shortly after the win over B.C. “There’s not a lot of room to lose, it’s a long week, but it’s a short week, there’s not that many games and you have to be in the top three to move on. We’re there, and we’re really happy about that… Now it’s trying to get into playoffs, that’s the next goal.”
The top three teams from each pool advance to the championship round, with Saskatchewan 1 joined by Northern Ontario (Douglas Dean, 5-0), Alberta 1 (Jack Smart, 4-1), Quebec (Benoit Lessard, 4-1), Ontario 1 (Jon Thurston, 3-2) and B.C. 1 (Austgarden, 3-2).
As their records indicate, things aren’t about to get any easier for the Moose Jaw rink, and they’re more than aware they’ll need to stay sharp the rest of the way.
“We have to keep playing the game we’ve been playing, making the right decisions out there and throwing it right,” Dash said. “Just keep doing what we’re doing and be patient.”
Rod Pederson and Saskatchewan 2 did all they could to also land in the championship pool, but their 3-2 record and round-robin loss to Ontario 1 saw their rink just miss moving on to potentially play for a medal.
Pederson, third Stewart McKeown, second Sheryl Pederson and lead Russell Whitsitt still did their part Wednesday, rolling to a 15-4 win over Nova Scotia’s Laughie Rutt.
“I’ve very happy with it, we played well, from lead to skip, we all played the best we can and that’s just the way curling goes,” Pederson said of coming so close to the championship round. “We were right there, the losses we had were a half inch here and there and it couldn’t have been much closer.”
Things aren’t done for Sask 2, though, as they now move on to the seeding pool and will look to put together the best record possible for the 2024 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship when it returns to Moose Jaw next spring.
“We’re back here again next year, so we want to finish as strong as we can,” Pederson said. “We’ll just keep plugging away and see what happens.”
One thing that’s for certain as the important games approach is that Moose Jaw has once again come through when hosting a major event. Dash himself had nothing but rave reviews for how well things have looked from start to finish.
“Right from the opening ceremonies on, the way Moose Jaw has put on a show here has been incredibly good,” he said. “It looks great out there, they have the right people and a lot of volunteers, and Moose Jaw stepped up again to do a great job.”
The championship round begins Wednesday night with the first draw and all records carrying over. Dash faces Alberta 1 at 7 p.m. at the Moose Jaw Events Centre, followed by Ontario 1 on Thursday at 2 p.m. and Lessard on Thursday at 7 p.m.
The top four teams advance to the Page playoffs beginning 9 a.m. Friday.
Saskatchewan 2 currently has the top record in the seeding pool and face Alberta 2 (0-5) Wednesday evening, New Brunswick (1-4) Thursday afternoon and Ontario 2 (2-3) on Thursday night.
Be sure to visit www.curling.ca for up-to-date scores and information.