Men’s curling advances to semifinals Monday morning

(Photo by Heather Davidson)

(Photo by Heather Davidson)

GUELPH, Ont. – The Wilfrid Laurier men’s curling team found themselves in a winner-takes-all scenario Sunday afternoon as they faced the Carleton Ravens in their final round robin game of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championships.

With both teams sitting at a 4-1 record, the winner would take the pool and have a direct bye to the semifinal.

And after an incredible back-and-forth affair between the Ravens and the Hawks, it came down to a single that Laurier stole in the eighth end to win 6-5 and advance to the semis.

“It feels pretty good,” Laurier skip Aaron Squires said. “We’ve had a couple of disappointing years the last few years, so to come out this year and come out on top and have a straight bye to the semis is pretty huge for us.”

“They played exceptionally well against an exceptionally good team,” head coach Gary Crossley said. “There were a lot of great shots on both sides, and we just happened to make maybe one better shot than they did.”

In the first end, Laurier skip Squires tried for the black end to keep the hammer going into the second, but his rock stuck around to give Laurier a 1-0 lead.

After a flurry of rocks were in the house in the second, Carleton picked up a single to tie it up. In the third, a little bit of an ice issue allowed Carleton to steal another and go up 2-1, but Laurier would settle for the single in the fourth end to tie it 2-2 at the halfway point.

That’s when things got interesting. Carleton’s skip would hit a beautiful double takeout to sit and take three at the end of the sixth end to go ahead 5-4 after Laurier picked up a deuce in the fifth.

With a difficult house in front of them, both Carleton and Laurier exchanged timeouts. With the hammer, Squires was able to squeeze out a single on a beautiful shot to tie it up coming home.

Carleton was again faced with a difficult house, and strategic playing by Laurier made Carleton’s last shots very difficult. With Laurier sitting one in the house and guards across the top of the ice, the draw to for the win was too light and crashed on a guard, giving Laurier a steal of one and the 6-5 victory.

With the win, Laurier will face the winner of tonight’s quarterfinal matchup. A win sends them into the OUA final and gives them a berth in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championship in Saskatchewan in March. Tomorrow’s semifinal is set for 9:30 a.m.

“All of us have been in big games before, so we know what it takes to compete at that level. So it’s just another semifinal game like we’ve had in the past,” Squires said.

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