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Monday, March 26, 2012

Prairie strike

The Chronicle-Journal
Team Saskatchewan second Marie Wright embraces skip Darwin Bender after their win 7-6 extra-end win over Alberta at the Canadian wheelchair curling championship final at the Fort William Curling Club Sunday. (The Chronicle-Journal/Brent Linton)
Darwin Bender led the way to Saskatchewan’s first Canadian wheelchair curling championship on Sunday.

Bender pulled out a 7-6 win over top-ranked Bruce Yizek of Albert in the final held at the Fort William Curling Club. Bender and his Regina clubmates — third Gil Dash, second Marie Wright and lead Larry Schrader — needed a single in the ninth and extra end to seal the deal.

With an overall record of 10-1 this week, Yizek’s rink has been the class of the field as he was seeking his first national crown after losing three finals.

Bender opened the scoring with a deuce in the first end and Yizek responded with a three-ender. Bender forced Yizek into a tough takeout to score a single and the rinks traded deuces in the fourth and fifth ends to sit tied at 5-5.

The fifth end was a fairly open affair. With Alberta sitting two at the back, Bender drew to the edge of the eight to lie shot. Yizek’s takeout tracked straight and missed its target. Bender’s delicate draw produced a deuce and knotted the game 5-5. The teams blanked the sixth end, so Alberta kept hammer in the seventh.

Alberta third Jack Smart drew a beauty into a wide open house. His counterpart Gil Dash pumped it out. Smart returned the favour but rolled out, creating a wide open house for skip rocks. Bender drew to the edge of the four.

Yizek caught the full four to slip past Bender and take a 6-5 lead heading into the eighth end, where Bender used his hammer shot to draw to the button and tie the game again.

In the ninth, Wright’s double raise take out got Saskatchewan out of early trouble. Dash neatly tapped a Saskatchewan stone to the button. Smart narrowly missed his double attempt, leaving Saskatchewan still sitting one. Bender placed a long guard. Yizek’s attempted raise through a hole grazed the shot rock, allowing Bender to set another guard and elimination the raise opportunity.
Yizek couldn’t respond and the celebration was on.

Earlier Sunday, Bender downed Ontario’s Mark Ideson in seven ends. Ideson had eliminated Thunder Bay’s Carl Levesque, representing Northern Ontario, in a tiebreaker on Friday.
Next year’s wheelchair nationals will be held in Ottawa.

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