Joel Retornaz (Photo: Celine Stucki, WCF) and Sam Mooibroek each won their respective A side brackets to become the first two qualifiers at the Stu Sells Toronto Tankard.
By: Cameron Sallaj
Early season success for both Italy's Joel Retornaz and Ontario's Sam Mooibroek has paid off as both teams are now the first qualifiers for the Stu Sells Toronto Tankard playoff round which begins Sunday in Toronto. Team Retornaz has picked up two event titles so far this season at the Euro Super Series and Adelboden International while Team Mooibroek were victories at the U25 Next Gen Classic.
The Italian team consisting of Joel Retornaz, Amos Mosaner, Sebastiano Arman, and Mattia Giovanella entered the event as the second seeds and wasted no time getting to work in their first game against Nova Scotia's Travis Colter. The team immediately took four points in the opening end and later led 5-1 after three. Despite a slight comeback from the Nova Scotia team, the Italians scored a point in the seventh end to go up two, eventually running Team Colter out of stones for the 6-4 win.
Their next two games weren't as close as the first. In the A semifinal against Switzerland's Yves Stocker, the team opened with deuces in ends one and three before stealing a big three in the fourth end, leading to an 8-1 win. In their A final, the Retornaz rink went up against Norway's Magnus Ramsfjell. The teams sat level at two all after the first half, but the backend of the match would be a different story. After taking two in five, the Italians stole two consecutive deuces to extend their lead to 8-2, a deficit too big for the Norwegians to come back from.
Despite entering the Toronto Tankard as the eighth seeds, Sam Mooibroek and his teammates Scott Mitchell, Nathan Steele, and Colin Schnurr were able to come out on top of their A bracket to qualify for the playoffs for the teams third straight event.
The team, which includes two reigning Canadian Junior champions in Mitchell and Steele, began their run with a 9-5 victory over Nova Scotia's Owen Purcell. They quickly jumped out to a 5-1 lead before the Purcell rink made it a tight 6-5 game. Team Mooibroek then took three in the seventh to secure the victory.
They then faced another Nova Scotia rink in Halifax' Stuart Thompson, who was able to knock off Sweden's Niklas Edin to qualify for the A semifinal. After giving up a single in the first, the Whitby based team rallied back with a deuce in the second and a steal of three in the third. They were able to take another three in the fifth to bring the game to an early concession 8-2 and qualify for the A final.
In that final Saturday morning, the team faced their tallest task so far against Penetanguishene's Glenn Howard. Things didn't start well for Team Mooibroek as they surrendered three to Team Howard. They responded, however, with two in the second, which was followed by blanks in three and fourth. After the Howard rink got one in the fifth, Team Mooibroek cracked a four baller in the sixth end to set them up for victory. The Howard rink leveled the score at six all in the seventh, but the Whitby team got two in the eighth to close out the victory 8-6.
With the A Event now complete, the focus shifts to the B Event where three more teams will look to earn their playoff spots at 1:30 PM Eastern Time. The games will see Sweden's Niklas Edin go against Norway's Magnus Ramsfjell, Nova Scotia's Travis Colter battle Ontario's Glenn Howard, and Northern Ontario's Tanner Horgan face Switzerland's Yannick Schwaller. The winners of the three games will be into the playoffs while the losers will drop into the last chance C Event.
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