Had the ice been in at the Yellowknife Curling Centre yet, this would have been a great result.
But it isn’t and that’s what makes this result even more impressive.
Kerry Galusha and her rink of Jo-Ann Rizzo, Margot Flemming and Sarah Koltun made the trip to Oakville, Ont., for the inaugural Stu Sells Oakville Tankard and made it all the way to the final on Sunday. The only problem? They fell in the final to Hollie Duncan of Ontario by a score of 7-3. Galusha decided to shake after six ends, the minimum amount which needs to be played before pleasantries can be exchanged.
Even in defeat, Galusha said getting to the final was satisfying.
“If you had asked us last week if we were happy to get to the final and lose, I would have said yes,” she said. “We had some adversity to overcome but making the final in our first weekend on the ice was a great result and lots of fun to play.”
The ladies began in the round-robin on Sept. 10 with a pair of games in which the team described on their Facebook page as “one great game and one not so good game”: a win over Danielle Inglis of Ontario in an extra end, 8-7, and an 8-3 loss to the vaunted Jennifer Jones of Manitoba. The following day saw the ladies rebound from the loss to win a pair of games over Amanda Smith of Ontario (7-2) and Abbey Salari of Ontario (7-1).
“Getting the split the first day was good,” said Galusha. “We knew if we wanted a chance at the playoffs, we would have to beat either Inglis or Jones. We threw really well against Danielle and came out a bit flat against Jennifer but if you’re going to play flat, it’s better to do it against them.”
Their record of three wins and one loss was good enough to get them second place in their pool and a trip to the playoff round on Sunday afternoon. There, they took on Courtney Auld of Ontario in the semifinal, where they stole their way to victory, 5-4, a game the ladies described as a tough grind.
Both teams traded singles in the opening four ends and after a blank in the fifth, Auld scored a deuce with the hammer to take a 4-2 lead. Galusha answered back with a single in the seventh and then stole another to force an extra end. Galusha would steal again in the bonus frame to snatch the win and move onto the final against Duncan, who beat Jones in the other semifinal.
“They didn’t miss much that game,” said Galusha. “We had a shot for three in the seventh but missed it so we knew we would have to steal-steal to win it. She (Auld) missed draws in the eighth and the extra and that was the difference.”
In the final, Galusha continued her penchant for pilfering points as she stole one in the opening end to draw first blood but Duncan took control from that point, scoring four with the hammer to take a 4-1 lead. Duncan added to that by stealing two in the third after a Rizzo draw against three slid too far, followed by another steal of one in the fourth to go up 7-1 at the break.
Galusha had a chance to get back into the contest in the fifth but was only able to score a single with the hammer. After a steal in six, Galusha decided it was time to shake hands, giving Duncan the title.
“The ice gets tricky in the later draws in the evening and we just didn’t catch the ice,” said Galusha. “We were a bit sloppy on our releases and we’re still working things out but Hollie played great.”
The runner-up finish was worth $3,500 in prize money for the ladies along with some decent ranking points and it’s now off to Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., for the KW Fall Classic, which begins on Friday. Galusha will be on the ice Friday morning for her opening contest against Heather Heggestad of Ontario.
Galusha said the ladies got a good idea in Oakville what kinks need to be worked out.
“We’re playing all new positions so still getting used to it a bit,” she said. “We got some points and some money and we’re really happy with the weekend. We’re sore after six games in three days but happy.”