Walker, Crocker wrap up first place in Pool B at curling mixed doubles trials

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Man. — Geoff Walker and Laura Crocker locked up first place in their pool with a 9-6 win over Brendan Bottcher and Dana Ferguson on Thursday at the Canadian mixed curling championship.

Walker and Crocker stole two in the eight end to improve to 7-0 with one round-robin match remaining, while Bottcher and Ferguson fell to 6-1.

Starting with last rock, Walker and Crocker opened with three points in the first end, and were up 5-1 after three.

Bottcher and Ferguson replied with three in the fourth. Walker and Crocker scored one in the fifth but their opponents tied it with two in the sixth.

Walker and Crocker moved back into the lead with one in the seventh before putting their opponents away in the match’s final end.

In other results, 2006 Olympic men’s champion Brad Gushue and partner Val Sweeting improved their playoff chances with a 9-6 win over Nicole Westlund-Stewart and Tyler Stewart. Gushue and Sweeting sat in third place in Pool B at 4-2, while Westlund-Stewart and Stewart fell to 0-6.

Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris scored one in an extra end to beat Chelsea Carey and Colin Hodgson 8-7. Both teams were 3-3 heading into Thursday’s later draws. Sherry Middaugh and Jon Epping (2-4) posted an 8-3 win over Dustin Kalthoff and Marliese Kasner (0-6) in the other Draw 14 match.

In Pool A action earlier Thursday, Brett Gallant and Jocelyn Peterman remained in first place at 6-0 with a 9-6 win over 2014 Olympic women’s champion Jennifer Jones and Mark Nicols (4-2).

Emilie and Robert Desjardins (4-2) posted an 8-6 win over Kimberly and Wayne Tuck (0-6), Catlin Schneider and Nancy Martin (4-3) eked out a 5-4 win over Jason Gunnlaugson and Shannon Birchard (1-6) and Tyrel Griffith and Sherry Just (3-3) stayed alive with an 8-7 win over Jill Officer and Reid Carruthers (4-2).

The winner of the tournament will represent Canada when mixed curling doubles makes its debut at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.

The first- and second-place team in each pool will advance along with the next four teams in the overall standings. Tiebreakers and the opening round of the playoffs begin Friday and the final is scheduled for Sunday.

The Pyeongchang Games are scheduled for Feb. 9-25.

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