The team representing the St. Thomas Curling Club wins the final, 6-5, in an extra end
April 20, 2022
By Rob J. Ross
ST. THOMAS - It could be considered an early wedding gift.
Scott McDonald and his team of lead Laura Neil, second Matthew Hall and vice Laura Eddy, are the 2022 provincial mixed curling champions.
The rink, representing the St. Thomas Curling Club, edged Team Cory Heggestad, from Stroud, 6-5, in an extra end of the Ontario final, at the Quinte Curling Club, in Belleville, April 17.
"First time winning the mixed, a new team and it actually includes three of my closest friends. One of them is my fiance, so that's special to me," McDonald said. "It was mix of excitement and relief. I'm fortunate to have won a few provincials before. This was the first one Laura has ever won. It was really special for me to help her win a provincial."
Neil is the bride to be, with the wedding set for the summer of 2023.
McDonald's resume includes two
appearances at the Briar and seven provincial gold medals, including 2019 men's,
2013 mixed doubles, 2007 junior mixed and an OUA title with the Western
Mustangs, in 2009.
In the final, Team McDonald led 5-2 after six ends, but Team Heggestad took two in the seventh end and tied the game in the eighth.
"We did have a shot to win in the eighth end, but my shot to the button stopped about an inch deep and we had to go to an extra end," McDonald said. "In the extra end, we played a quiet weight hit and had to stick around in the four foot. Laura had to help curl it a little bit with the brush and made it perfectly.
"We played a really good ninth end and left ourselves a pretty straight forward shot to win."
McDonald knew the final would be closer than their 8-2 win against Heggestad in the round robin.
"We got off to a slow start and gave them a steal of two in the second. At that point, we knew we'd have to grind out another come from behind win," McDonald said. "Thankfully my teammates made some great shots. We put some pressure on them and got some steals in the middle of the game which turned the tide in our favour."
Team McDonald earned a bye to the final, following a 6-1 round robin record.
"It's great to get a bye to the final, but then you are waiting around a day for that championship game. During that time we had a few team meetings to ensure we were as prepared as possible," McDonald said. "Our round robin, we were a couple games (wins) ahead of the field, but we had to battle for a few of those wins. We were down in couple of the games and had to really come together as a team and make some shots."
Chemistry and team chatter was strong throughout the five day bonspiel.
"It was really our team dynamics that pushed us through. Our goal was to win the provincial championship and we put in a lot of work to make sure we were prepared for the moments," explained McDonald, with Hall coming from Kitchener-Waterloo and Eddy, from Dundas, for practices.
"The communication was a big thing for us. We always wanted to make sure we were talking and not assuming. We all wanted to know what the rocks were doing and what the paths were doing and how each other was feeling. The emphasis was on being a really good teammate for each other. We figured if you could be a good teammate, than we could help each other in those moments that are really stressful."
It was all fun by the time the foursome received their grey hearts, for winning the provincial mixed title, the championship banner and were fitted for Team Ontario jackets.
"It's certainly a career highlight for me. The mixed curling scene in Ontario is so strong," said McDonald. "It's going to to be nice to enjoy it over the summer."
The Canadian mixed championship, is in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, this November. The event features 14 teams from across the country.
"I think our goal will be to win the Canadian championship," McDonald said. "We know there will be some talented teams there, but but we know if we play to our potential and put the work in, we'll give our selves an opportunity to compete for that title."
That would be an additional wedding-like gift before McDonald and Neil walk down the aisle.
© 2022 Hometownplay.ca
© 2022 Hometownplay.ca