On November 12th
, 27 teams began the sixth season of the Missoula Curling Club with a pristine record. That day, defending champions and last place finishers were equals all in search of the same goal: to position themselves favorably for the league playoffs. Over the following thirteen weeks of league play that followed, hacks came loose due to excessive warmth and curlers quite literally froze as temperature fell to -10°F. But through it all the fun, fellowship and good sportsmanship of this great game persevered. Rookie teams and veterans alike finish atop the leader board in each league with abundant competition inbetween. But ultimately, after 95 regular season matches during which nearly 800 points were scored, our playoff brackets were set with the ultimate competition to begin.
During the following two weeks of playoff play several upsets occurred, especially in the Competitive League where #1 Fellowship of the Rock, #2 Rocks in the Kettlehouse and #3 Curly Fries all fell in the Quarterfinals. Victorious and advancing to the semifinals are two veteran teams, the #4 Osprey vs #8 Baby Broomers on one side of the Competitive League bracket and two newly formed teams #10 Ursus Horribillis vs. #11 Fire and Broomstone. So here’s how these matches breakdown.
9:00pm on Sheet A: #8 Baby Broomers vs. #4 Osprey
The #8 Baby Broomers defeated #9 Smoken’ Curlers (9-4) and upset the #1 seed Fellowship of the Rock (7-4) en-route to the semifinals. Meanwhile, #4 Osprey pulled out a narrow victory over #13 Satan’s Brooms (5-4) and took down a very tough #5 Barred Rocks team (6-4) to earn their place in the semifinals.
These two did not meet in regular season competition this season. However this match up is actually a first round rematch from last season’s Winter League Playoffs where the Baby Broomers (then known as the Youngsters) defeated the Osprey 5-2. This season against common opponents both the Broomers and Osprey defeated Satan’s Brooms and each fell at the hand of the Curly Fries. However the Osprey took down Barred Rocks while the Baby Broomers ultimately fell to defeat. Will the Baby Broomers continue as their spoiler role or can the Osprey avenge an early playoff exit last season to earn their spot in the Championship round at 10:30pm?
9:00pm on Sheet D: #10 Ursus Horribillis vs. #11 Fire & Broomstone
The opposite side of the Competitive League bracket will see two newly formed teams playing for the chance to be called champion: #10 Ursus Horribillis vs. #11 Fire and Broomstone. While Ursus is technically a new team, forming during last Spring League. The teammates on it are a mixture of two junior curlers at the top followed by two grizzled veterans as the third and skip. They defeated #7 Game of Stones & stunned #2 Rocks in the Kettlehouse on their way to the semi finals.
The #11 seed Fire and Broomstone are truly an upstart, rookie team riding a hot streak like few other in this year’s playoffs. They are lead by a first year skip and composed of curlers who are generally within their first few years of experience. They narrowly defeated the talented Hick’s Hacks (9-8) and defending Recreation League & Spring League Champions Curly Fries (6-2) to garner a place in the semi-finals.
Yet again, these two will be facing each other for the first time this season. But they shared nearly a full season of common opponents, each winning just 2 games during the regular season. Ursus defeated Smoken’ Curlers while Fire & Broomstone lost. Otherwise each team fell to defeat against Fellowship of the Rock, Curly Fries, Baby Broomers and Game of Stones. Which set of curlers will Cinderella’s slider fit on Saturday?
Fewer upsets were observed in the Recreational League with both of the top seeds, #1 Stones of Anarchy & #2 Lairiat Loopers advancing to the semi-finals. But along the way we did see yet another Hellgate High School showdown with #13 Paws Up/Stones Down ultimately victorious over the spunky #4 Flintstones. And the there’s the curlers from #11 Seven Stones who narrowly defeated both teams with the longest names in the league #6 Did You See Regis This Morning? (6-5) and #3 Can You Smell What The Rock is Curling (6-4).
So ultimately for the semifinals we have #1 Stones of Anarchy vs. #4 Broom On along with #2 Lairiat Loopers vs. #11 Seven Stones. Here’s how those matches stack up!
9:00pm on Sheet C: #1 Stones of Anarchy vs. #5 Broom On
After a first round bye, #1 Stones of Anarchy handily defeated #8 V-Max and The Inhibitors (7-2) to reach the semifinals. However #5 Broom On was tasked with dispatching a pesky #12 Frenchtown Dental Molarbears (6-4) as well as #13 Paws Up/Stones Down (7-2) en-route to a matchup with the top seed for a chance at the Championship game.
This will be yet another first time pairing this season, so let’s take a look at how these teams fared against similar competition. Each team found victory over Seven Stones, a team the victor may meet in the Championship round. But Boom On lost to the Ice Holes whom Stones of Anarchy defeated. Interestingly, the only team which defeated Stones of Anarchy this season, the Frenchtown Dental Molarbears, were counted as one of Broom On’s four victories. By all accounts this match should prove highlight worthy and very well could be the Game of the Week.
9:00pm on Sheet B: #2 Lairiat Loopers vs. #11 Seven Stones
Finally we have a classic David vs. Goliath combination to round out the Recreational Bracket. The grouping of veteran empty nesters known as the Lairiat Loopers have finished with a first round bye at least the past two seasons. After their week of rest they defeated a tough Snockey team (6-4) to earn their spot in the semifinals. #11 Seven Stones, as mentioned above, have been the charming Cinderella story in the Recreational League this season with their victories over our long named #6 and #3 seeds. Their certainly going to need to bring their A-game in order to take down the always challenging Loopers. So let’s see how this breaks down!
For the first time in the semifinals, this is a rematch from the Regular Season where during Week 3 (December 10th…AKA…before the snow & cold started and people were wondering if winter would ever arive) the Loopers were victorious over Seven Stones in a rather close match, 4-1. This season, against common opponents, both the Lairiat Loopers and Seven Stones lost to Broom On (a team they could face in the finals) and each defeated Stone Cold. Otherwise, they didn’t face similar competition this season. So will Cinderella’s slider keep on gliding across the ice? Or will the Lairiat Loopers take a familiar place in the final match at 10:30pm? The action starts at 9:00pm.
All the championship matches will be played immediately following the semifinals. It’s quite obvious that the championships are sure to be fun, exciting and blessed by excellent curling. So I’m not going to preview each of the potential matches and just encourage y’all to come on out for one more Winter League night of fellowship and GOOD CURLING!