Red hot Ontarians outcurl Manitoba

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:29 AM ET

David Hamblin said Friday that if his Manitoba team curled the way it could, it wouldn't have to worry about yesterday's Canadian mixed final.

Well ...

"We just came out a little flat today," Hamblin said last night from Whitehorse, Yukon. "We didn't quite play how we needed to play. It was a pretty rough game for us."

Hamblin, a 24-year-old from Morris, curled just 60% in yesterday's championship match at Whitehorse Curling Club and John Epping's red-hot Ontario squad from Oakville cruised to an 11-6 victory.

Hamblin and second Ross Derksen, of Plum Coulee, were trying to win their second national titles together, as they also won the 2002 Canadian and world junior crowns.

Manitoba, which also consisted of Brandon's Kristen Williamson at third and Winnipeg's Kendra Green at lead, was up 3-2 after three ends, but that's where their fun came to an end.

Ontario scored one in the fourth to make it 3-3 and then went on a larceny spree, stealing three in the fateful fifth and one more in the sixth to take a commanding 7-3 lead.

"The fifth end was just a bad break," Hamblin said. "They were laying one, and I was playing a raise to hopefully have us laying one and made kind of a one-in-a-thousand shot and picked our own out and left them laying three buried.

"I couldn't have done it if I tried."

Hamblin responded with two in the seventh and a steal of one in the eighth to get to within one, at 7-6, but Ontario roared right back with four in the ninth to seal the deal.

10 STRAIGHT VICTORIES

Epping, a 22-year-old Peterborough native, won the 2004 Ontario junior men's championship but finished fourth at nationals.

This week's event didn't start any better for him, as Ontario lost its first three round-robin games before rattling off 10 straight victories, which was capped by yesterday's triumph.

It was only Ontario's second mixed title in the event's 42-year history. The other was Dave Van Dine in 1986.

Manitoba has seven national mixed crowns to its credit, but the last was in 1991 when Jeff Stoughton accomplished the feat in Thunder Bay.

Manitoba received a bye to the final thanks to its 9-2 record in the round robin. Ontario hammered Quebec 11-6 in Friday night's semifinal.

"Any time you lose a final in an event like that is disappointing," Hamblin said. "At some point in the future, it's always better to be second than third or fourth or 10th, but it does sting a bit when we know we could've done better."

CELEBRATORY SENDOFF: The St. Vital Curling Club will host a sendoff party tonight for the Jennifer Jones team, which is off to Halifax to compete in this week's Olympic Curling Trials.

The festivities begin at 7 p.m. The public is welcome and admission is free.


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