Monday, August 19, 2013

2013 GNCC Arena Club Championships: Recap

I think my short and succinct preview worked out pretty well. Let's see if we can do the same with the recap, shall we? After all, I'm assuming you've got better things to do than spend more than five minutes reading this blog post.

Oh, who am I kidding...I'm sure this recap will end up being just as long as they usually are. (Thanks for reading!)

The host club

The 2013 GNCC Arena Club Championships were hosted by Bucks County Curling Club, in Warminster, PA. This was the first time they'd ever hosted a bonspiel, and we didn't hear a whole lot from them leading up to the event, so I've got to be honest: we didn't know what to expect.

Well, they did a terrific job. The ice was the best arena ice I've ever played on, everything was well organized and on time, the curling atmosphere was great (people were actually watching the games and cheering, which doesn't always happen at these things), and the food was excellent too. Regarding the food, I will say this about Bucks County's inexperience hosting a bonspiel: they had way more food than they needed. (The menu prominently featured Philadelphia culinary staples, which I'll talk more about another day.)

The club appears to have solid financial support, too, so you'll be hearing more about the Bucks County Curling Club in the years to come. I'm a fan of any curling club named after a county.

The curling

I tried to downplay this somewhat in my preview, but I was pretty confident going into the weekend. (Was it obvious?) At the very least, I thought we could at least play in the final draw. (Not necessarily the first event final; just any of the event finals.) Maybe I was a little too confident, because the first game brought us back down to earth:

Career game #224: GNCCACC Game 1 v. Woodstock (VT) - August 16, 2013

End.............. 12345678 |TTL
Triangle (Jaun).. 20020200 | 06
Woodstock........ 02301021 | 09

It seems like this game happened forever ago. Did we really give up a steal of three? I don't remember that happening. (To our credit, that was the only 3-ender we gave up all weekend.) All I really remember from this game is the last shot, in which our only shot was a double take-out for the tie, which we actually came close to making. Kind of. By our standards, it was close.

So, any dreams we had of actually winning the whole thing were quickly dashed. But we can still win the second event trophy, a.k.a. the bulldog!

Speaking of losing the first game of the bonspiel, here's a fun stat. In 11 away bonspiels, my career record in the first game of the bonspiel is 2-9. After the first game, my record is 16-15.

Career game #225: GNCCACC Game 2 v. Green Mountain (VT) - August 16, 2013

End.............. 12345678 |TTL
Triangle (Jaun).. 02110211 | 08
Green Mtn........ 10002000 | 03

A solid win, top to bottom. Every time we had hammer (twice), we scored two. When the other team had hammer (six times), we stole a point four times. All weekend, our execution and gameplan was as good as any team I've been on in a bonspiel in which Debbie McCormick wasn't on my team. This is why I've given up on the idea of playing Skip at a bonspiel, at least for now. There are many curlers in our club who a) curl more often than I do, and b) know what they're doing better than I do. (Speaking of which, here's another fun stat: my career record at away bonspiels is 2-9 when I'm the Skip, and 14-10 when I'm the Vice. So, which position do you think suits me better?)

That win put us one win away from accomplishing my competitive goal for the weekend, of playing in my first ever final draw at an away bonspiel. (In Detroit last February, we won the D event, but the D event final wasn't in the final draw, so we weren't in the bagpipe ceremony or anything. I want to be in the bagpipe ceremony!)

Career game #226: GNCCACC Game 3 v. Green Mountain (VT) - August 17, 2013

End.............. 12345678 |TTL
Green Mtn........ 01100210 | 05
Triangle (Jaun).. 10021002 | 06

Our opponent here was a solid team, and we needed everything we had. Again, I only really remember the last end here. We were already sitting one, I threw a pretty awesome draw behind over with my last rock to sit two, Skip Chris J. threw an equally awesome guard to hold our position with his first rock, and he didn't even really need to throw his last rock, because we were already sitting two.

Or were we? The other team called for a measurement at the very because it was close. But the rings were painted so accurately - like I said, the best ice conditions I've ever seen in an arena - that I was pretty sure our second rock was closer than their first rock, giving us two points and the win. But, technically, I guess the game did come down to a measurement at the very end. That might be a first for me, too.

I'm all about "fun stats" today, so here are two more: our first three games were all against Vermont-based teams (which made up 5 of the 18 entrants). Also, the opening coin flip game up heads in all four games, and every time, heads was called. (We called it twice, so we split the coin tosses.)

And that brings up the second event final, the bulldog championship game, against the other Triangle Curling Club team at the event, skipped by Murray J. (In the scoreline below, I'll just refer to the other team as "Them".)

Career game #227: GNCCACC Game 4 v. Triangle - August 17, 2013

End.............. 12345678 |TTL
Triangle (them).. 00010210 | 04
Triangle (us).... 10101002 | 05

Perhaps the shot of the weekend came in the very first end: a draw for one, against four opponent rocks. Leave the draw short and give up a steal of four, and that's pretty much the game, before we even got started: the ice was good enough to allow for lots of take-outs, and so it would have been very difficult to come back from four points down, especially against Murray's team.

After that, we stayed in control, and didn't really start to slip until the 6th and 7th ends, when we gave up the lead. But once again, we scored two with last rock in the 8th end for the one point win, except in this case, it did come down to a final shot, clutch draw for two and the win. Victory!

Even more "fun stats"! Out of four games, three game down to the skips' rocks in the last end. Also, we were trailing after 7 ends in three of the four games, but ended up winning three of the four, and without any extra ends needed.

Building on that point, the last two games ended the exact same way: the other team scored two to tie the game in the 6th, we gave up a steal of one in the 7th, and then we scored two for the win in the 8th. Actually, if you're tied with hammer after 6, giving up a steal of one in the 7th isn't terrible. I think scoring one with hammer puts you in a slightly better position to win the game than giving up a steal of one and keeping hammer, percentage-wise, but it's probably pretty close. Of course, blanking the 7th end is preferable to either of those options.

The trophy

Chris J., me, Wyatt P., Bill Y. (Photo courtesy Triangle Curling Club.) The second event champions, and proud owners of the bulldog for one year. Woohoo! I know I don't really look it in the picture, but I'm excited. (Actually, by the time the awards ceremony came about, I had already moved on and was busy thinking about which route we should take home. True story. Even so, at least I look more excited than the guy clapping in the doorway.)

I think I'm the first and only person to have won the bulldog twice, but I don't actually know, because the team that won the bulldog last year didn't bother engraving their names on it. I think we're going to go ahead and do it for them, whoever they are, while we're at it. Maybe we'll make up names.

That will probably be my last solo bonspiel until at least next summer. As much fun as I had, I missed my family a lot. Besides, maybe it's best that I sit on this one for a while.


Jon Langille said...

Hi Chris! I really enjoyed reading your recap to the Arena Championships. Unfortunately you're not the first person to win the bulldog twice, but congratulations on winning it again nevertheless. If you'd like to engrave our names on the plate for us, we were Ocean State Curling Club. S. Jon Langille, V. Toni-Marie Achilli, 2. Jason Achilli, L. Janet Prichard. We aren't that used to winner either and didn't know we were supposed to engrave the plate ourselves.

Chris Allen said...

Well then, I'll just have to win it a third time :)
I believe our Skip is planning to engrave your names while he takes care of ours, so that the bulldog will once again complete.

Jon Langille said...

Oh wow! Thanks... in that case, let me give you our correct line up for our team at last year's event. My lead was Kathy Brady, not Janet P. Janet was the lead on our league team. Leave it to a skip to mix up the leads! Anyway, you should verify with the GNCC because I could just be some wacko after all :)