Thunder and Marlins rule the rings

 Alexis Stockford

The Marlins girls are one of five local rinks heading to the Zone 4 championships in January 2017. (Submitted Photo)

The Marlins girls are one of five local rinks heading to the Zone 4 championships in January 2017. (Submitted Photo)

All three rinks from Morden and two from Miami will join the fight for a Zone 4 banner this year in January.

Both of Morden’s male rinks made it through the Step 1 Western Qualifiers in Altona Dec. 9, joining the Sandercock rink on the female side.

Miami claimed one qualifying spot apiece in male and female competition with the senior Bayliss rink moving forward in the girls and the Alexander rink qualifying in the boys.

Morden’s Thomas Titchkosky, along with teammates Rylan Didkowski, Kelby Carson and Owen Storey, earned their zone 4 berth within their first game, beating PCI’s Paterson rink 8-5.

“Our young guys are all in Grade 9 on that team and they are just so pumped,” Morden curling program co-ordinator Dawn Rigaux said. “You can see in the draw that they had a bye, so if they won that game they qualified right away. I wasn’t sure how that was going to turn out because there was a lot of more experienced teams there, more mature teams, but it just so happened that they won that game and they won it well.”

Rhylind Peters meanwhile (along with teammates Marcus Titchkosky, Michael Untereiner-Falk and Mark Neumann), had to fight their way through both tiers of competition, first facing PCI’s Chambers rink and claiming a tight 6-5 win before moving on against Miami’s Nathan Alexander.

It was a fired-up Morden squad that hit the rings against a seasoned Miami rink.

Peters took the lead immediately and ran with it, eventually winning 7-2 to clinch a qualifying spot.

“They’re a very skilled team and they’ve been playing together for a while and they’re our older guys, so we knew they’d qualify,” Rigaux said.

No freezing for the fish

Miami’s senior boys started their day with an 11th hour win against PCI’s Schellenberg.

With the scoreboard tied into the last end, Alexander slipped one to the button to bring the score up 6-5, a win that launched them into their match up with Morden.

Alexander and teammates Nick Friesen, Kael Steuart, Tyler Livingston and Erick Alexander, had one last chance for a qualifying berth after that loss, facing PCI’s Jackson rink.

The two teams stayed neck-and-neck in the opening ends, but the 2-2 stalemate was soon broken by Miami.

The Marlins gained three in one end and shut Portage out for the rest of the game, ending with a 9-2 final score.

On the female side, Miami’s Trinda Bayliss (along with teammates Tayah Vanstone, Quinne Riddell and Shelby Orchard) and Morden’s Meghan Sandercock (teammates: Sydney Bisschop, Danielle Chapman and Meadow Evans) started off head-to-head in the first round.

The young Morden team had a slow start with the Marlins taking a 4-0 lead after the first end.

“[We] kept it fairly clean and simple after that,” Marlins coach Blaine Rutter said.

Bayliss won 9-3, moving on to face Carman’s Peckover rink.

“It was a close game until Shelby Orchard made a great shot through a port and we ended up scoring four that end,” Rutter said.

The senior Miami girls won 9-3.

Sandercock, meanwhile, found herself in the wildcard round, facing Miami’s second McDonald rink.

The junior Miami team had previously defeated Elm Creek’s Vandevelde in a dominant 9-1 decision before being defeated by PCI’s Lambert rink 10-4.

Sandercock shut out the Miami squad 7-0 to claim the third of four qualifying berths.

“The girls certainly developed even throughout the day. Their second game, they were way more on than their first, so it was really good to see,” Rigaux said.