Tuesday 6 February 2024

Playdown After After Party 2024

 #BetweenTheSheets: The Playdown After After Party

The final provincial championships of the season

We have reached the end of our Playdown Party journey rock heads.

Have you survived all the parties thus far?

Tired? Wired? Awake? Bueller....

If you have made it this far, Welcome to the Playdown After After Party.

Our attention heads to the prairies for the final 2 playdown parties of the season.

Alberta. Manitoba.

We are ready for you.

Do not disappoint. You are closing out the Playdown Party season this year.

With the Scotties field finalized and the action ready to hit the ice in Calgary next weekend, the blog will have a SPECIAL #STOH2024 PREVIEW sliding out of the hack before first rocks are thrown.

You can get caught up on the field and the pool placements as summarized in last week's blog post.

We should also note Team Peterson and Team Shuster won the USA Curling Championships over the weekend and earned their tickets to the upcoming 2024 world championships as well as the first spot in the upcoming USA Olympic Curling Trials (assuming of course USA earns a spot in the field based on world championship results).

Note, the #TwineTime blog did predict championship wins for both Peterson and Shuster in last week's blog post. 😉

We had surprise / #TeamUpset results at the Japanese Curling Championships. Team Abe was the dominant men's team all competition and ended up taking home the title, defeating Team Yanagisawa in the final.

Team Ueno/Kanai won the women's championship after defeating fellow surprise finalist Team Tabata in the championship game.

Team Abe and Team Ueno will now represent Japan at the upcoming 2024 world championships in Switzerland and Canada respectively.

Team Hasselborg and Team Nyman won the Swedish Curling Championships as well. Of course Hasselborg and Team Edin were already announced pre-championship as the teams to qualify for the world championships.

Team Kapp and Team Abbes won the German Curling Championships too. With Kapp's win, it forced a Best of 3 series vs. Team Totzek for the world championship spot. Kapp continued the winning ways, winning the series 2-0 and earning their ticket to Switzerland.

Shout out to Abbes as well for winning the championship while only playing with 3 players.

From the international scene back to Canadian ice, we still have a few more tickets to claim for Regina at the 2024 Brier.

Lets get caught up on the current Brier field.


We know 15 of the 18 teams have already punched their tickets to the Montana's Brier in Regina, SK. 

Congratulations to the following teams:

#TeamCanada - Team Gushue
#PQ1 - Team Bottcher
#PQ2 - Team Dunstone
#TeamArctic - Team Latimer
#PurplePower - Team Scoffin
#CurlON - Team Howard
#TeamPacific - Team Schneider
#PolarPower - Team Koe
#TeamBluenose - Team Manuel
#FearTheMoose - Team Bonot
#Labelleprovince - Team Arsenault
#TheIslanders - Team Smith
#TheRock - Team Symonds
#TeamGreen - Team McEwen
#TeamAcadia - Team Grattan

This past weekend we added a few familiar names to the Brier party dance card.

Mike McEwen made #HIStory in becoming the 1st skip to win 3 different provincial championships (Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan).

And he is joined of course by the remaining members of the former Team Flasch, who made lightning strike on Brier ice back in 2022 in Lethbridge, shocking the system with their run to the playoffs.

We also welcome the return of James Grattan to the Brier. Grattan will be making his 16th Brier appearance this year.

And we welcome a new face to the Brier family with Team Grattan vice Joel Krats. The #NextGen athlete will make his Brier debut in Regina.

This week we focus on those final 3 spots. We have 2 provincial championships, Alberta and Manitoba, and the 1 #WC spot.

And the results in Alberta and Manitoba WILL decide who receives the lone #WC invite this year too.

If you still have room for more cold drinks and hot eats, the door is open and you are invited to the #PlaydownAfterAfterParty.

Playdown Previews



Hinton, AB

2023 Champion: Team Koe

Format: 12 team triple knockout with 4 qualifiers.

#Fav: Team Koe

The #3peat is never easy in sports.

Kevin Koe will attempt to accomplish the feat with another Boston Pizza Cup win this week in Hinton.

Ranked #8 in the world (#3 CTRS), Koe will be the overwhelming favourite to defend his championship.

This season has been a tale of 2 stories for Team Koe. We have the #gsoc resume and the tour resume. And one is overwhelmingly more positive than the other.

Outside of the slams, Koe has qualified in 5 of 6 events. The team has reached 4 finals and won 2 titles.

The positive.

But what about at the slam events?

Koe has failed to qualify at all 4 slams this season, with a best result being losing a TB game at the recent Canadian Open in January.

Overall the team has a season record of 39-21. They are 32-10 outside of the slams but 7-10 at the slams.

And the one unaccounted for loss? The #Sweep16 opening round loss to SK Tankard finalist Team Kleiter.

So the question is, which teams shows up in Hinton?

The one who dominated the tour season? Or the one who struggled during the slam season?

They are 3-0 vs. the field this season; however, all 3 of those games have been against the same team.

And that team just happens to be the #TeamUpset....

TRIVIA: Who was the last Alberta skip to win 3 Alberta titles in a row?

Kevin Koe (2014-2016).

#TeamUpset: Team Parent

Team Parent may be 0-3 against #Fav Team Koe but, for the most part, the games have been competitive.

Look at the final scores: 7-4, 9-2, 6-5. Outside the second game, the first and third were competitive good games in Okotoks and Lloydminster.

For the season, Parent is sitting with a .500 record (24-24). They have qualified in 4 of 10 events and have 1 tour title under the slider (Beaumont, def. Team Jamie Koe in the final).

They are also 7-11 vs. the field this year, which includes being 0-6 vs. the top 3 seeds (Koe, Sluchinski, Sturmay). But 7-4 vs. the rest of the field is a positive.

While ranked #65 in the world, Parent is the #4 seed in Hinton.

And that seed could be their advantage as it earns them an opening draw bye, setting up possibly a better draw throughout the event.

And perhaps an A-SF clash with Koe?

The seed also propels them into this #TeamUpset opportunity. The opening draw bye almost guarantees them avoiding the Big 3 until SF games within the A, B and/or C path to the playoffs.

It may seem like a small advantage but it is still an advantage. Most teams would rather get a few wins under the slider, and some positive momentum/confidence, before having to take on the "big boys".

Of course, to win you have to beat them all anyway.

It may be an uphill battle for Parent (and a majority of the field) but #TeamUpset results happen all the time folks.

Lets also remember this is a #NextGen U25 team. The future is looking bright, regardless of the results this week.


Team Koe, Team Sluchinski and Team Sturmay are going to be overwhelming favourites to qualify for the playoffs.

If all holds true, one qualifier spot remains. Who wants it?

There is a great opportunity here for a "surprise" team to emerge and make a playoff push.

Team Parent is the #4 seed and, if seeding holds true, should be in the fast lane for the potential final qualifier spot.

But do not undersell some very experiences skips/teams in this field either.

Daylan Vavrek and Ryan Jacques both lost 2 qualifier games last year at this event. Vavrek lost the A-final (vs. Bottcher) and C-qualifier (vs. Sluchinski). Jacques lost the B-qualifier (vs. Koe) and C-qualifier (vs. Sturmay).

Scott Webb has Boston Pizza Cup experience. Johnson Tao, the #NextGen star from the University of Alberta and 2023 Canadian junior champion, is also in this field. Both Webb and Tao were here last year competing.

Cole Adams and Ryan Parent make a return, having previously competed in 2022 but with different teams.

Jacob Libbus returns to the BP Cup for the first time since 2020.

Jared Jenkins and Andrew Dunbar will be making their debut.

The Big 3 may seem like locks for the playoffs but the other 9 teams in this field could surprise along the way too.

This may not be as cut and dry for playoff qualifier spots as people assume.

Remember, the Boston Pizza Cup has produced some upsets over the years as well. While the champions have been consistent, the teams who qualify for the playoffs have seen some surprises.

But we also remind ourselves, since 2000, only 4 skips have won this championship: Randy Ferbey (5 times), Kevin Martin (7), Kevin Koe (8) and Brendan Bottcher (3 + 2021 awarded due to COVID-19).

Ferbey and Martin are retired. Bottcher has already qualified for Regina.

Should we just assume Koe adds to his legacy?

Qualifiers: Team Koe, Team Sluchinski, Team Sturmay, Team Parent

Alberta Championship: Team Koe def. Team Sturmay


Stonewall, MB

2023 Champion: Team Dunstone

Format: 32 team double knockout with 8 qualifiers. Qualifiers advance to an 8 team double knockout with 4 qualifiers. Qualifiers advance to Page Playoff Championship Round.

#Fav: Team Carruthers

Can Reid Carruthers regain the Viterra Championship?

Can Carruthers win his first provincial championship as skip since 2018?

Carruthers' name is tied to this championship over the years. He has been to 11 Brier's after all, including the past 6 straight.

But he lost the final last year.

Enter Brad Jacobs.

Jacobs has 14 Brier appearances, with his last coming in 2022.

Can Jacobs win his first provincial championship from somewhere other than Northern Ontario?

We have already seen Mike McEwen wearing Ontario and now Saskatchewan.

Imagine Jacobs with a buffalo?

The Carruthers/Jacobs backend combo will be the overwhelming #Fav at the 2024 Viterra Championship.

The team is currently ranked #11 in the world and #5 on CTRS, keeping them in one of the front runner positions for the #WC ticket too.

They are 29-23 on the season, qualifying in 6 of 9 events. They reached 1 tour final, doing so in Lloydminster in January.

Plus Carruthers did #DefendTheIce at the PointsBet Invitational in September.

The #gsoc results have been hit or miss. They have gone from QF (Tour Challenge) to DNQ (National) to QF (Masters) to DNQ (Canadian Open).

They are prone to back-to-back losses when struggling, a feat you cannot afford in a double knockout.

But they have also shown they can get on a hot streak and ride the momentum all the way to a championship.

What may be interesting to note is they have not played a single team in this field this season.

Advantage? Disadvantage? Time will only tell...

#TeamUpset: Team McDonald

Lets stick with the #NextGen theme this week for #TeamUpset allocation.

Welcome Jordan McDonald and his Winnipeg foursome.

If you are not familiar with the Team McDonald name yet, you probably will be by the end of this event.

They are VERY capable of making some noise this week.

The team sits #48 on the world rankings (#24 CTRS) and has compiled a season record of 38-13.

They have qualified in 8 of 9 events, only missing out at the season opening #NextGen U25 event in Edmonton.

They have also reached 4 finals and won 3 titles. They finished #1 on the Manitoba Curling Tour season.

Impressed yet?

Last year McDonald qualified for the Viterra Championship but had to decline the spot due to being the Manitoba junior champion and representing the province at the 2023 Canadian Junior Curling Championships, where he ended up winning the bronze medal.

In 2022, McDonald made it to 2 qualifier games and lost both.

This could finally be his breakout Viterra season.


Welcome to the most convoluted playdown bracket ever season.

In a playdown party season where we saw so many provinces switch formats, Manitoba remains steadfast on their double double-knockout format involving 32 teams.

It is quite the bracket and quite the process. But, in speaking to players who compete in it, Manitoba teams love it.

So why mess with success if the teams like it?

The opening double knockout keeps teams within their pods of 8. Of those 8, 2 will qualify for the playoff round. And then we see some inter-mingling between the teams.

In one way it is a bit disappointing when you see a team arrive, play 2 games on opening day and be sent home. A team can open play on Wednesday and by end of day Wednesday be driving home and eliminated.

It seems foolish in some ways and you feel for those teams. But it will happen.

And keeping teams in their pods for the opening double knockout kind of sucks because you end up with teams playing one another on repeat within, possibly, a 24hr period.

But it has to be that way to squeeze in all the games and keep a somewhat fair schedule of play for teams.

On the flip side, what an event. 32 team double double-knockout seems very Canadiana of us, no? It almost feels like Tim Hortons should be the sponsor of a double double event (no offense to Viterra of course who have been very proud supporters of this event and the sport of curling for MANY years!!!).

And upsets WILL happen. We have seen names like Carruthers, McEwen and Gunnlaugson falter a bit along the way and have their backs against the wall early. When 2 wins sends you home, the pressure mounts quickly.

Will we see any of the "big names" fall early this year? Will we see a few #TeamUpset results move into the playoff and/or championship round bracket(s)?

While the champions of this event have been, for the most part, pretty predictable, the pathways taken and the teams they have faced along the way have been a few "surprises".

This is always a fun event to watch unfold. We can expect the unexpected throughout the draw...but the end game may just be the most predictable of it all.

Playoff Qualifiers: Team R. Wiebe, Team Calvert, Team McDonald, Team Carruthers, Team Grassie, Team Irwin, Team Walter, Team Smith

Championship Qualifiers: Team Carruthers, Team Calvert, Team R. Wiebe, Team McDonald 

Manitoba Championship: Team Carruthers def. Team R. Wiebe


2023 Representatives: Team Bottcher (#WC1), Team Carruthers (#WC2), Team Sturmay (#WC3)

Format: Top team who did not win their provincial/territorial championship based on CTRS.

Teams In Contention: Team Koe (AB), Team Carruthers (MB), Team Sluchinski (AB)


Team Sluchinski got their wish this past weekend when Team McEwen won the Saskatchewan Tankard title.

Pretty sure they were watching the final vs. Team Kleiter with nervous anticipation on the final result.

McEwen's win is Sluchinski's win as it keeps them in the running for the #WC spot.

Yes, Sluchinski can earn their way to Regina with an Alberta title this upcoming week as well but, should they falter, the second chance option is available.

Of course they may want to keep one eye on the results in Manitoba as well.

Team Carruthers is the #Fav in Manitoba but, should he falter, he could snag the #WC spot as well.

And of course we already know Team Koe will be in Regina. They have a 20 point CTRS lead on Carruthers so they are safe atop the rankings. It is just a question of whether they will be Team Alberta or Team #WC (also to be known as Alberta - Koe if it happens).

Wildcard Prediction: Team Sluchinski

One small gripe overall, ticket prices. 

For the Viterra Championship (Manitoba), the Event Pass is $150 while the Day Pass is $50 and ONE DRAW is $20. I get these prices kind of entice you to really go up one level for each but geez that is getting pricey to watch a provincial championship, no? And that is per person.

For the Boston Pizza Cup (Alberta), Event Pass is $180 with a Weekend Playoff Pass of $70, One Draw at $20 and Single Playoff Draw at $25.

One expensive date night and seems almost impossible for a family. Are we price point eliminating fans now? EVERYTHING is so expensive.

Note, the Scottish Curling Championships are already underway in Dumfries, Scotland. World and European champion Team Mouat headlines the men's field with main challengers Team Whyte, Team J. Craik and Team Waddell trying to usurp the champs. Team Morrison headlines the women's field with Team Henderson, Team Munro and Team Blair being the main challengers.

Stay up to date with all the results and standings on the Scottish Curling page HERE. And remember, the Scottish champions do not automatically earn a spot at the world championships. Scotland's world championship representatives are selected. All teams competing are eligible for consideration though.

The Switzerland Curling Championships hit the ice this upcoming week as well. Team Schwaller and Team Tirinzoni will try to #DefendTheIce with main challengers Team Brunner, Team Stocker, Team Hoesli, Team X. Schwaller, Team Huerlimann and Team Jaeggi trying to dethrone the champions.

The Swiss Curling Championship is being streamed on the Swiss Curling Association YouTube channel HERE.

And, on Canadian ice, we have the Canadian U18 Curling Championships already underway in Ottawa. 21 men's and women's teams will compete for the Canadian title. Stay up to date on all the scores and standings from Curling Canada HERE.


The blog will return next week with the SPECIAL #STOH2024 PREVIEW.

Could it be a podcast? Could there be a SPECIAL GUEST joining?

Until then, good luck and good curling to everyone competing this upcoming week. 

Stay warm and keep the party going rock heads...

No comments:

Post a Comment