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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Challenge Chateau Cartier de Gatineau Time

Fall season is in full swing now.  Leaves are changing colors, temperatures are dropping, people are coughing and sniffling and the curling season is approaching Grand Slam fever.  One week away from the first gland slam of the season, team who have qualified are either taking in one last week of competition before the big event or taking the weekend off to relax, practice and prepare.

I need to thank Team McEwen for backing up my pick last week and coming through with a big win in Portage.  These guys can do no wrong so far this season, 3 wins in 3 spiels.  I would say so far my predictions for the week have been pretty good.  2 correct spiel winners picked out of 3.  We shall see if I can continue the winning trend this weekend with the tour hitting Gatineau.

Favorites

Team Mike McEwen (2 Overall/1 YTD) - Already mentioned above for their perfect winning percentage so far this season, they have to be considered favorites again.  Is there any worry of them peaking too early in the season before the big Grand Slam events or can they continue rolling right along leaving everyone else behind them?

Team Brad Gushue (3/9) - The "Goo" is the defending champion of this event, albeit with a different team lineup.  This team is stronger than last year's winning team though so you cannot count out the defending champs.

Team David Murdoch (9/8) - The current Olympic silver medalists have experienced a tough start to the season.  Last weekend they lost out on their chance to represent Scotland at the upcoming European Championships.  They need a strong showing this weekend to right the ship and get ready for the Masters next weekend.

Team Nik Edin (8/4) - I thought Team Edin would role last weekend but just hit some bumps along the way, namely 2-time Canadian Jr. Champ Matty Dunstone.  Similar to Team Murdoch, Team Edin will be looking for positive results and wins going into Selkirk, MB next weekend.

Watch Out For

Team Reid Carruthers (15/7) - A bit of a stumble last weekend following their big win the previous weekend in Toronto.  Could this be just a simple post-victory hangover stumbling block or was the Toronto victory the peak for this team?  I think they regroup this weekend and we will see them playing into Sunday.  They will be disappointed to not have qualified for next week's Masters event so this could be the perfect opportunity to show-up some of the bigger teams and prove they belong in the upper echelon of the curling world.

Team John Epping (10/3) - Another team who started the season very strong but has come back to Earth the past few weeks.  Their draw is favorable and I think we will see the Epping team from the first few weeks of the season back on the ice.  If any team could use more ice time this weekend, it is this team.  They will want to show the beginning of the season was not a fluke and they deserve their ranking.  Plus a few wins and qualifying this weekend will reestablish some confidence heading into Selkirk.

Dark Horse

Team Sven Michel (13/11) - The Swiss boys have not had a successful season by their standards.  Failing to qualify in 3 of their past 4 events will do that though.  On the bright side, their recent runner-up finish at the Swiss Cup in Basel is a positive sign that hopefully this team has turned around the negative results and is ready to challenge the best again.

The Picks

Qualifiers: Team Gushue, Team McEwen, Team Edin, Team Murdoch, Team Carruthers, Team Epping, Team Michel, Team Menard
Championship: Team Edin over Team McEwen

This is a tough pick as I see Edin, McEwen, Murdoch and Gushue all being very even.  They all have favorable draws and any of these teams could get hot and go on a roll to win.  Given McEwen's start to the season, it is hard to pick against them but one has to think this roll cannot last forever.  A tough final loss this weekend will only make them hungry to pick up the win next week in the hometown province.  I think Edin and Team Sweden are due for a win.  They have qualified in their past 4 spiels, twice losing in the semi-final.  Here is the season break through win I think.

Given the recent events in Ottawa, thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in the Ottawa-Gatineau region.  Special thoughts go out to the family and friends of fallen soldier Nathan Cirillo.  This was a tragic event.  Be safe out there curling teams and fans.  Let's enjoy the action on the ice, be thankful for the opportunities and blessings we have in life and be nice to one another.