They will go head-to-head, with a B.C. championship at stake.
Today at the Prince George Golf and Curling Club, teams from 100 Mile House and Prince George will clash in the third and final draw of the West Coast Blind Curling Association provincial playdown. The winner, in all likelihood, will claim top spot in the competition and a berth in the 2014 nationals in Ottawa.
"It's going to be a bit of a pressure-cooker," said Terry Pipkey, who throws second stones for the Prince George rink. "I think we'll have to start out easy, be consistent, and try not to get too cocky, for sure, because usually that's when it blows up in your face. Our Prince George team has been going now for 12 years and it took us four or five years to learn that. Just because you're up a couple points doesn't mean you're going to win the game."
After opening-day play on Friday, 100 Mile House sits in first place with 40 points. Prince George, with 33 points, is second, followed by Kelowna (16) and Vancouver (15). Jim Vinson is the skip for 100 Mile and Shane McCreery fills that role for Prince George, the defending champion. Kelowna is led by Donna Loewen and the Vancouver skip is Rob Camozzi.
In blind curling, games are eight ends. For every end a team wins, it earns two points. A game victory, meanwhile, is worth 10 points.
In the afternoon draw on Friday, Prince George faced Kelowna and won five of the eight ends, which translated into a 20-6 victory in points. The 100 Mile House team, meanwhile, took seven of eight ends against Vancouver and rolled to a 24-2 win.
In the morning draw, Prince George and Vancouver battled to a 13-13 tie, a game in which each team won four ends. In the eighth, Prince George needed some heroics from McCreery to win the end and take the two points necessary to pull into the tie. With his last rock, McCreery made a double takeout. Had he missed, Vancouver would have walked off the ice with a 20-6 win. So, in the big picture, McCreery's double kept Prince George in the hunt for the B.C. title.
"We knew our goose was cooked if we couldn't pull off that last hit," Pipkey said.
In the other morning game on Friday, 100 Mile House downed Kelowna 16-10.
The scoring system in blind curling isn't the only difference from the traditional game. Instead of brooms being positioned as targets in the far house, they are held close to the player throwing the rock. Sometimes, depending on the player's degree of blindness, flashlights are used instead. Teams also have guides and designated sweepers.
The 100 Mile House and Prince George rinks have squared off in the last two provincial tournaments and each side has one victory. Vinson, the 100 Mile skip, is looking forward to today's all-important rubber match, which will start at 9:30 a.m.
"It's going to be very tight," he said. "We've got a good shot for a novice team. We've only been playing for three years and I think we could do OK."
Kelowna and Vancouver will also play at 9:30 a.m. today.