NIPIGON—Although they gave a valiant effort, Jordan Chandler’s rink was unable to secure a top-place finish in this year’s Northern Ontario Curling Association (NOCA) men’s provincial championship in Nipigon this past weekend.
“I thought we had a good chance to make the playoffs, and potentially win, but we had a bad week,” said skip Mr. Chandler, who is affiliated with Curl Sudbury.
“It just wasn’t great conditions for us. There was bad ice and a few other factors, but we just didn’t adjust well to it,” he said, noting that his teammates had better games throughout the tournament.
Mr. Chandler’s rink competed in the men’s east qualifier in Copper Cliff in December. They won their first four games in a row and easily qualified for the provincials.
The rink had another shot at the provincial championship last year when it was held on home ice in Little Current.
“Nipigon was okay but it was nothing like the event we had last year,” said Mr. Chandler.
In four of the past five years, the team has been ranked in the top four. This year, they ended up tied for sixth place out of eight teams.
Team Chandler is made up of Luc Ouimet, lead; Lee Toner, second and Sandy MacEwan, third. In the playoffs, Team Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie eked a victory over Team Horgan, also affiliated with Curl Sudbury.
For this year’s Northern Ontario provincials, NOCA held the men’s and women’s competitions together. Mr. Chandler’s fiancée Tracy Auld competed in the women’s tournament as second on Team Jenna Enge.
She was joined by Amanda Gates, lead and Oye-Sem Won Briand, third. Their rink is affiliated with Idylwylde Golf and Country Club in Sudbury and Port Arthur Curling Club in Thunder Bay. Ms. Auld moved from Thunder Bay to Manitoulin Island last summer and told The Expositor that she considered the tournament a success.
“We did quite well. We’re a new team this year going into the competition and had no expectations. We’ve only played eight games before this weekend,” said Ms. Auld.
Team Enge tied for second overall in round robin play at the tournament with an even split of three wins and three losses. They faced Team Brunton of Curl Sudbury for a tiebreaker game and won by two points.
They then faced Team K. McCarville in the playoffs. That team was undefeated in the round robin segment with six wins and no losses. The two teams went back-and-forth with each rink adding a few points to their score throughout the game. Going into the 10th frame, Team Enge was up by one point but Team K. McCarville fought back and managed to score two points and the victory by a margin of one point.
“It was a really good experience playing on the arena ice. We’ve been under high pressure situations before and it was helpful for the whole team as we’ve all played in provincial events before,” said Ms. Auld.
Two of her teammates, Ms. Gates and Ms. Enge, made it to the national Scotties championship last year. They had beat Team K. McCarville at that time to advance to the nationals.
“Playing against high calibre players as we did was awesome. It was a lot of fun,” said Ms. Auld.
Mr. Chandler said he plans to enjoy his break from competitions until the fall, when curling season ramps up once again.
Also representing Manitoulin Island at the provincials was lead Matt Gordon and second Chris Gordon on team Montpellier. Chris is a Haweater and his son Matt owns property on the Island. They faced Team Chandler midway through the tournament and fell 10-5 to the Chandler rink, finishing eighth overall at the end of the tournament. This is the first time the father-son pair have curled together at this level of competition.