Murray and Mouat on Winning Form at Inverness
The second Asham Under 21 Slam event of the season was played at Inverness Ice Centre from 8-10 November. The competition featured a prize fund of £1,800.00 and a strong field of teams.
In the girls event Forfar’s Lesley Young topped the group stage with a perfect 4 and 0 record. Murrayfield’s Gina Aitken was also undefeated with one peel while Inverness Junior International defending champion Katie Murray had a single reverse in the qualifying section. Dionne Clark’s team picked up a couple of notable wins to ensure the fourth qualification slot.
The draw for the semi matched Murray against Aitken. The two RCCC Academy sides had met in the qualifiers where a last end steal saw Aitken squeeze home. The rematch was a different affair. A cat and mouse opening saw three blanked ends before Murray opened the scoring with a two in the fourth end. Aitken was forced to a single in reply before a triple in the seventh effectively sealed the deal for Murray, though as expected of a side of Aitken’s class, they took Murray to the tenth.
The other semi looked equally competitive and when Dionne Clark stole in the sixth to tie the game at 3 apiece, a close finish was anticipated. However Young posted back to back doubles and handshakes were offered.
In the final, Katie Murray’s team of Sophie Jackson, Laura Ritchie & Jodie Milroy appeared to be cruising when they stole the seventh end to lead 6-2. However Lesley Young’s team of Alison Wood, Hailey Duff & Ellie Fraser declined to give up hammer in the eighth and manufactured a triple in the ninth to take the game all the way. With her last stone Murray faced two in the twelve foot and opted to hit and lie. However the stone rolled out and Young had forced an extra end.
In the decider Young’s team got early cover and Murray rather than hit for home opted to defend her opening counter in the four foot. A high strategy end left Lesley Young with an angled double raise to lift the Murray counter and leave Murray’s team in trouble. The stone looked perfect but the lifted stone could only feather the counter and the Murray team had retained their title as Inverness Junior International Champions.
Girls Pictured top – Katie Murray (skip); Sophie Jackson; Laura Ritchie; Jodie Milroy; Barbara McPake (team coach).
The semi final matched Mouat and Brydone. The tie was highly anticipated and was tied after three ends. However Mouat appeared to then get a handle on conditions and posted triples in four and six to end the contest.
The Taylor v Bryce contest was classic knock-out stage curling. Taylor appeared to have wrestled control with a steal of two in the fifth but there was never more than a single between them thereafter and Taylor was forced to a single in ten to tie the scores. In the extra end quality front end play allowed Taylor to manufacture cover on the centre line and he looked perfect with his final stone draw to the pot. However in the cruellest of fates the stone picked and Bryce had an open draw to win the game.
After a close semi, Cameron Bryce’s team of Zack Stewart, Fraser Kingan & Frazer Shaw failed to take their A-game to the early ends of the final. Mouat had retained hammer by blanking the opening two ends then took a two in the third end. In the fourth end Bryce faced six with his first stone but made a triple and opened up the house. Mouat made his final stone to lie four leaving Bryce a draw full eight foot to save the end. Despite his sweepers best efforts the stone failed to make the paint and Mouat led by six.
The Bryce team then showed what they were capable of with attacking play but Mouat’s rink of Duncan Menzies, Derrick Sloan and Angus Dowel were always in control and eventually killed the game in the ninth, exploiting Bryce’s need to gamble with a triple.
Boys Pictured above – Bruce Mouat (skip); Duncan Menzies; Derrick Sloan; Angus Dowell.
It was a successful weekend with the ten end format meeting universal approval and the top teams emphasising their credentials for the forthcoming junior championships.