Almost a hair-raising final

JOE PAVIA -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:35 AM ET

He would have rather lost his hair.

The Christian Tolusso team from Manotick almost saw one of their coaches, Bill Rogers, shave his head bald as the side bet in their quest to win the Pepsi junior provincials on Sunday in Brockville.

The final came down to the four 17-year-old local curlers competing against a 19- and 20-year old Ryan Myler rink from Brampton.

Both teams played it clean until end five. The Tolusso rink got off lightly when Myler attempted a hit for four, but was wide and scored only one point.

The Manotick squad then allowed two consecutive single steals before Tolusso came within two by scoring one in the ninth.

The tense 10th end saw the younger squad sitting three on the top four with all sorts of guards blocking any easy access. After much discussion, Myler delivered an in-turn angle raise for a double that left Tolusso with only a single point, sending the Brampton rink to the national final, 5-4.

"To be honest, our goal was to make the playoffs," Tolusso said after the game. "I thought we're going to have a good chance of making the final. We played well, excellent all week."

Their lone loss in the round-robin came against Myler, too.

STRONG SEASON

Tolusso, along with Ritchie Gillan, Alex Young and Kevin Rathwell (Layne Noble also coaches), is experiencing a strong season.

"It's partly to do with the coaches, Bill and Layne," Tolusso said. "Also the team's just playing well, we're clicking and we love travelling together. It's been an awesome season. I'm excited about playing two more years."

On the women's side, Kitchener's Hollie Nicol triumphed thanks in part to Ottawa student Karen Sagle, who throws second's stone for the team.

Some errant throws in the 10th end by Team Nicol allowed Hamilton's Britanni O'Neil to steal a deuce, sending the final to an extra frame. Nicol's last shot clinched the 8-6 decision and sent Sagle to the nationals.

"It's awesome. I'm so happy,'' Sagle said. ''My last junior provincial right here ... The 10th end, oh my god, I almost died. I thought I was going to be sick. It means so much to me."

The Kitchener rink reached the final with a 9-4 win over Ottawa's Rachel Homan in the semi-final.

Team Homan got off to a bad start, falling behind 4-0 going into the seventh end. They scored plenty in that end on Homan's unbelievable triple run back-angle take out to score three.

ROOF FELL IN

After stealing to tie in the eighth, the roof fell in on the local squad when Nicol stole four in the 10th after Homan flashed on an angle raise take-out attempt.

WOMEN'S REGIONALS: The A-side winner of the East region was Sara Harvey of Unionville while Jenn Hanna prevailed on the B side. Jo-Ann Rizzo and Sherry Middaugh took the A and B sides, respectively, in the West.

MEN'S REGIONALS: Area rinks fight the fight to advance to the provincials Saturday at the RCMP, beginning at 9 a.m. My picks are Bryan Cochrane and Greg Richardson with Mark Homan as the dark horse. Ottawa's Chris Gardner skips a team in Region 2.

MIXED MESSAGE: The OVCA mixed bonspiel (Jan. 18-21) is full except for a couple of spots in the recreational division. If you want to join the 105 teams, call 613-692-5224.

THIS WEEK IN CURLING: The senior provincials start Tuesday ... The bantam zones begin Friday ... Rogers Television replays the Pepsi junior finals Saturday beginning at 2 p.m.


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