Young skip rocks the house at regionals

JOE PAVIA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

The Gardner has bloomed.

After defeating Bryan Cochrane Saturday in Region 1 A playdowns, Chris Gardner will make his first appearance at the men's provincials in Woodstock in February. The Ottawa resident skipped a team whose average age is 23 to a tight 7-5 victory over Cochrane.

"It's just setting in right now," an emotional Gardner said after the game. "I'm really happy for our team. This was our goal all year."

Down by one after seven ends, Gardner scored three in the eighth to take the lead. Up two in the ninth, Gardner almost gave up a deuce to tie. Cochrane made a perfect freeze to lie one. Gardner's attempted hit sailed wide, but Cochrane's draw for two came up light.

Cochrane won the B-side final over Greg Balsdon on Sunday to earn his 12th trip to provincials. Other notable rinks that will be playing in Woodstock include Glenn Howard, Mike Harris and Peter Corner.

"We're just going to stay loose and have some fun with it," said Gardner. "We're having fun right now, and I think that's why we came out on top."

OCA results

Bantam zone competitors who advance to regions are: 1A -- Alexandra Polak and Keith Waddell; 1B -- Evie Fortier and Jonathan Thompson; 2A -- Jamie Sinclair and Kurtis Byrd; 2B -- Morgan Steele and Zachary Steele; 3A -- Emily Au and Alex Cormier; 3B -- Casandra Raganold and Ryan McCrady; 4A -- Katherine Nicholas and Jordan Frietag; 4B -- Natalie Gagnon and Shawn Ray.

Junior ranks

Ottawa teams are strongly placed to walk away with banners at the Pepsi junior provincials beginning today in Gananoque. In the men's field, local skips Neil Sinclair -- last year's runner-up -- and Christian Tolusso are the cream of the crop. The women's roster boasts Rachel Homan. The final is on Sunday.

The skinny

Jennifer Jones is gambling she can beat the men at this weekend's Casino Rama Skins Game. "The men got everything in their back pocket, so we're going to have to stay sharp to make a few skins," she said. Jones faces Glenn Howard this Saturday (TSN, 8 p.m.). The winner of that match plays the winner of Saturday afternoon's Kevin Martin-Randy Ferbey shootout (TSN, 1 p.m.). Sunday's final has $100,000 at stake (TSN, 1 p.m.).

Curling this week

Scotties regional women's action and men's and women's Challenge zones take place this weekend.


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