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Sunday, 1 May 2016

#BetweenTheSheets: Champions Cup Men's Final Preview
Teams with best kicks look to slide into the victory circle

If you are an opportunist, the grand slam of curling #ChampionsCup men's final is perfect for you!  We have a battle on the ice of two teams looking to finally escape from under the radar on tour and soar to the top of mountain.  Both Team Epping and Team Carruthers have been pushing the more notable, top ranked teams in the world for two seasons now but 2015/16 is the breakout for both.  Sure Carruthers won the Manitoba provincials last year.  And yes, I realize Epping did break through the glass ceiling earlier this season with a slam victory but this is a chance to truly elevate either team into the next stratosphere of curling contenders.

Throughout the event in Strathcona County, the talk in the stands (and among most media to be honest) has been tossing around names like Gushue, Koe, McEwen, Edin, Murdoch during championship prediction debate.  #TwineTime is equally as guilty of this, having predicted a Gushue over Murdoch final.  Where are all those teams right now?  Either drinking in the social house or on a flight back home.  While the debate among fans has been focused on other teams, quietly Team Epping and Team Carruthers have been going about their business, winning games and navigating the tough field to find themselves playing on May 1.  Side note #curling fans.....can you believe we are watching and talking about curling in May?  Wow!!  #growthesport

Let's go to a Tale of the Tape comparison to preview the men's final:

          Team Epping                                                                                           Team Carruthers

                 #6                                                       YTD Ranking                                       #4

3-1 RR, def. Simmons (QF)                              Road to the Final                3-1 RR, def. Koe (QF),                   Gushue (SF)                                                                                                   McEwen (SF)

                 1                                                        2015/16 Tour Wins                                1      

Winner (Canadian Open)                              Best #gsoc Season Result                   Runner Up                                                                                                                                            (National, Elite 10) 

Won their 1st career grand slam title                 Season Highlight          Winner DEKALB Superspiel

See above...winning Canadian Open!                Career Highlight               Manitoba Champ (2015)                                                                    

As we see above, Epping is having a career year in claiming their first ever grand slam title.  Carruthers has been close as well, losing two grand slam finals this season.  Now, to be fair, skipper Reid Carruthers does have a grand slam title under his belt (National, 2013) back when he curled with Jeff Stoughton.  But he is yet to captain the ship towards the elusive title.  The question now is whether Team Epping can add to the career season or whether Team Carruthers can finally kick the grand slam final monkey off their backs?  Here is the #TwineTime preview:

Carruthers Key to Success:  Leave the rocks to the side of the boards, have the game wide open and don't get suckered into a busy style of game.  This game plan worked in the SF over McEwen (and perhaps with a bit of luck) so why rock the boat?  This is their best opportunity for a slam title.  If they can stay focused on one rock, one end at a time and not let the moment/pressure get to them, the monkey may leave the Carruthers back and climb back up the tree.

Epping Key to Success:  Rocks in play, rocks in play, rocks in play.  Epping was able to attack Gushue in the SF and the format to winning proved successful.  This team can hit...and hit well!  Runbacks, doubles, triples....line up and watch the rocks fly.  If Epping can make the ends complicating and complex, advantage for the Ontario boys.

Carruthers Wins If:  Reid finds his game and doesn't let the heat of the moment get to him.  Epping has the curling percentage comparison advantage by 10% points.  Carruthers needs to curl lights out here and not let Epping sweep him out of the house.  Reid has the game to go toe to toe with him...and if he does it, the chances of Carruthers taking the title increase as the game goes on.

Epping Wins If:  Mat Camm!  Let's be honest, we already know skipper John is going to come out on fire.  Remember his last grand slam final?  He curled a perfect game!  The question will be how Mat responds to his light's out SF game...where he also curled 100%.  He does have the overall player percentage advantage over his competitor Moskowy.  If he continues this trend, Epping should have a shot to add to the his grand slam haul for the season.

#TwineTime Championship Prediction:  Team Epping over Team Carruthers - This is going to be an interesting final friends.  I am almost ready to flip the loonie and see which side comes up to pick my winner.  If we have a game of lots of rocks in the play, advantage Epping.  If we see 2 or 3 blank ends and open style of play, advantage Carruthers.  This is a final...both have been here before.  My heart says Carruthers.  My head says Epping.  The loonie has hit the air......flip flip flip....heads it is stoners!

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