If it does turn out to be the final games of crokinole played in the St. Jacobs Firehall, it was quite a show.
22 of the best players around filled the upper level of the firehall for the final tuneup before for the 2014 World Championship, and the end of the 6th National Crokinole Association Tour.
Splitting into 2 groups in the morning, with everyone gunning for the top half cutoff for the afternoon. Justin Slater scored at the top with 64 points, followed by Brian Cook (59), Fred Slater (58) and Nathan Walsh (55). Also filling out the top group were Ray Beierling, Jon Conrad, Louis Gauthier, Roger Valliancourt, John Harvey, Eric Miltenburg and Paul Brubacher.
20's scores were extremely high, with 5 players recording over 100 20's. Nathan Walsh led the way with 128, with Justin Slater at 115 and Ray Beierling at 113.
Just missing out on the top group were Robert Bonnett (by 1 point) and Jason Beierling (by 3 points). They would go into the B group with the top scores, and then emerge with the two best scores through the second round robin. Bonnett would come away with the victory in the B final match, winning 6-2, 6-4.
The second round play in the A group was extremely tight. Brian Cook and Justin Slater would claim the top 2 spots. Cook also led the way in 20's with 133. Jon Conrad and Nathan Walsh would take 3rd and 4th, both with 48 points, just leaving Ray Beierling on the outside in 5th with 44 points.
The semifinals set up an exciting pair of matches. Top seeded Brian Cook would play Nathan Walsh. The two met in the 2009 world championship finals, as well as the last two Belleville Challenge finals. The other semifinal was a rematch of the 2012 world championship, with Jon Conrad and Justin Slater.
With his qualification into the semifinals, Jon Conrad had already done all he needed to do to claim his second consecutive NCA Tour title. Meanwhile, Ray Beierling had guaranteed at least a 2nd place tie on the Tour, and the final spot on the podium up for grabs between Slater and Walsh.
The battle for the last spot would only intensify as both Justin Slater and Nathan Walsh would win their semifinal matches to set up the youngest final in NCA history, at a combined age of 42.
Nathan Walsh won the first game, of the best of 3, and was up 4-2, before Justin Slater turned the tides, winning the last 5 rounds and taking the match 2-6, 6-4, 6-0.
It was Justin Slater's 4th Ontario Singles Championship and 3rd consecutive.
For the effort, Justin Slater slipped into a tie with Ray Beierling for 2nd place.
And for the second straight year, Jon Conrad won the NCA Tour. With the victory, Jon Conrad becomes the first to ever win the NCA title while only recording one tournament victory on the year. Of course, he did that at the toughest tournament of all, the World Championships.
And with that, Conrad goes into the 2014 World Crokinole Championships with a mission to win his 3rd straight title, and also start off the 7th NCA Tour on the right foot. But many others will look to do the same.
There is less than a month to go until the 16th World Championship tournament, and CrokinoleCentre will look to keep you up to date on all actions leading up to the games greatest event on June 7th in Tavistock, Ontario, Canada.