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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Crotch Double Takeout Time...Teams in Form & Looking for Wins

Well, the Thanksgiving weekend sure gave many teams a lot to be thankful for on the world curling tour (fans included)!  For my first venture into picking curling events, I would say I didn't fare too bad.  Correctly nabbed 5 of 8 in Edmonton, including the correct final and winner.  A similar 5 of 8 in Toronto, correct with Jacobs in the final but I had him winning (Oh Team Carruthers, you ruined a perfect 2 for 2 weekend for me). A few teams offering up thanks this week include:

Team Kevin Koe (Order of Merit Overall/YTD rank: 7/11):  Came into Edmonton and walked out as Direct Horizontal Drilling champs, as I predicted I might add.  I guess nobody can drill as direct and on a horizontal like those boys.  Survived co-favorite Team Laycock and always the crowd favorite Team Stoughton to pick up the W.  I was lucky enough to watch them play this past weekend and they looked good.  They are finding their slide now...and that is not good for their competition.

Team Reid Carruthers (15/5):  Last week I said this team was about ready to step up their game and BOOM...there goes the dynamite.  They went into Toronto and walked away Stu Sells Champs.  They knocked off the defending Olympic champs Team Jacobs, home-province favs Team Howard and everyone else in their way.  I commented on twitter there was a lot of shade thrown at skip Reid Carruthers in the off-season about his ability to go back to the skip position and lead a winning team, well I would say he answered those critics this weekend.  Was this weekend win just the start of a winning streak?

Team Steve Laycock (12/18):  The SK boys looked very good this weekend in Edmonton.  Sure they lost the final, but they lost to Team Koe so nothing to hang your head about.  They have been consistent this season and will always be a threat in every spiel they enter.

Team Jeff Stoughton (16/13):  The curling fans in Edmonton were all over him, watching every shot, clapping loudly for every takeout and cheering for every win.  A tough SF loss to Team Laycock may be disappointing but given the fact this team has not curled together very long, this was a positive sign and a step in the right direction.

Team Brad Jacobs (1/1):  Ok so the Olympic champs will not go undefeated on the season.  Did anyone really expect that to happen?  Ok maybe a few of us kind of hoped for it just because they have looked so dominating this year but it was an unrealistic goal.  They ran into a red-hot Team Carruthers in the Stu Sells final though and came up short.  Still a successful weekend though for the season favorites and Canada's Team...plus they did get to check out the Argo's game I noticed.

If we consider Week 7 to be an exciting success, what do we think Week 8 will turn into?  The big stop on the WCT circuit this weekend is in Portage, MB for the Canad Inns Men's Classic.  This spiel has an all-star cast of teams entered.  The competition is going to be intense so those in Portage should be thankful for a Thanksgiving celebration carry-over.  Here is my rundown on this weekend's big spiel:

Favorites:

Team Jacobs - No surprise here, they will be considered favorites in every event they are entered this year...and next year...and next....as long as these guys stay together, they are always a threat.  Plus they get the opening draw bye.


Team Mike McEwen (2/3) - How can we not mention hometown province favs Team McEwen?  These boys have been on a tear this season and are ready to show Canada they are the future of the curling world.  They have had strong results for years now on the tour, including being the defending champs at this event, but have yet to step onto the big stage.  They will be crowd favorites this weekend I would imagine.  They didn't compete over the long weekend either so, assuming they didn't stuff themselves with too much turkey, they will be ready to hit the ice and make a run towards winning this event for the 4th time in 5 years.

Team Kevin Koe - Again, after winning last weekend and given the lineup of this team, they have to always be considered favorites.  I have no doubt they can ride the success of last weekend into a qualification spot this weekend.  But can they pull out another win against an even stronger field? 

Watch Out For:

Team Carruthers - Cannot leave out last week's Stu Sells Champs now.  They have momentum, they are curling in their home province, they have confidence....put all that together and I expect another big weekend from these boys.  Will they suffer a big win hangover or just keep rolling?  I think the latter for these guys.  A possible second game match-up vs Stoughton looms with the draw.  Reid already took out former teammates Jon Mead and Mark Nichols last week, can he play and beat the former skipper next?

Team Edin (6/4) - The Swedes are back on Canada ice and ready to pick up a few wins.  A new lineup this year for Nik Edin but a very strong one to say the least.  Always a threat as well.

Team Howard (8/8) -  Glenn and company have to feel good about last weekend in Toronto.  Sure they didn't pick up the win but a SF loss to Team Jacobs certainly is nothing to be disappointed with.  I expect another good weekend.  A possible A-side SF matchup vs. Koe would be fun!

Team Laycock - These guys have been curling a lot already this season.  They have finished runner-up in their last two events, can they finally get over the hump and pick up their first event win of the season after so many close calls?

Dark Horse Team:

A few teams worth mentioning who could create some havoc for the teams mentioned above.  Catch any of these teams on a good day and the favorites not playing their best, you could see some upsets throughout the draw.

Team John Shuster (21/15) - Qualified last weekend at Stu Sells, as I predicted (Thank You!).  Watch out for #TeamAmerica

Team Yasuke Morozumi (22/24) - Staying with an international theme here, this Japanese team can give teams some fits and could give Team Howard a match in their second game, should both survive their opening matches#TeamJapan is here to play!

Team John Epping (10/2) - Team Epping had a set back last weekend in Toronto but I do not see that happening too often this year.  They have been curling at a high percentage all season and I think they will find their winning ways again this weekend.

The Picks:

Qualifiers:  Jacobs, McEwen, Koe, Edin, Laycock, Howard, Carruthers, Stoughton
Championship:  Team McEwen over Team Jacobs

Honestly, these picks could really go either way.  This is a tough weekend and I think there really are 8-10 teams that could win this event.  If you are a curling fan, you are in for a good weekend.  I highly recommend following along online at World Curling Tour or CurlingZone and watch some of the live stream games. 

Enjoy the curling action everyone and always watch out for those crotch doubles!  Man those sound painful....