As the defending champions and tournament hosts, Jason and Ray Beierling went out to make a statement, and by the end of the day had an undefeated scorecard combined with a perfect 2-0 record in the page-playoffs to win the 2014 Ontario Doubles Crokinole Championship.
The Brucefield United Church held the location for the 5th annual tournament, and even featured a visit from Bluewater mayor Bill Dowson. (Who unfortunately lost his mayoral race a few weeks later to Tyler Hessel.) A gloomy and brisk October day made for some great crokinole, and adequate driving conditions made for a great turnout.
It was a packed field with 12 teams in both the competitive and recreational divisions. Highlighting the competitive field included 2-time defending world champions Justin and Fred Slater, making their first appearance as partners in the ODCC, and 2014 WCC 3rd place team of Matt and Dave Brown.
A full round robin took up all of the morning and the early afternoon as each team targeted a top 4 finish. A lot of teams formed of the usual partnerships from the same club, like Howard Martin and Roy Campbell of St. Jacobs/Waterloo, Tom and Rex Johnston of Varna, Dennis Ernest and Alex Protas of Waterloo, and Peter Carter and Robert Bonnett and the team of Clare Kuepfer and Neil Cook, both of Scone.
But a team that performed spectacularly in the preliminary round was the London/Hamilton pair of Ron Reesor and Eric Miltenburg. Forming quick chemistry, Reesor and Miltenburg scored big wins against Fred and Justin Slater, and Tom and Rex Johnston. Those wins would propel them to a 4th place finish with 53 points. Another pair that do not get matched up with too much frequency, despite being from the same club, were Louis Gauthier and Peter Tarle, who bounced back from an early loss to the Walsh/Hartviksen team to score 55 points and grab the 3rd spot.
In typical fashion, Fred and Justin Slater were responsible for one of the best scores, in both points and 20s. They would finish just ahead of Gauthier/Tarle with 56 points and 144 20s, to earn the crucial spot as the 2nd seed for the page playoffs.
On another level though was Ray and Jason Beierling, who soared to 1st place with a staggering 70 points and 160 20s. Congratulations should be given to Clare Kuepfer and Neil Cook as the only team able to draw even with the Beierlings at 4 points each in the preliminary round.
It was tough luck for both the teams of Martin/Campbell and Brown/Brown who finished 5th and 6th respectively with 48 and 47 points. It was especially tough luck for the hometown team of Ab Leitch and Steve Lefaive, who 4 times had the unfortunate event of outscoring their opponents in 20s, but failing to convert that into any more than 4 points in the game.
On the recreational side the battle to reach the playoffs was even tighter. Al Carter and Jo-Ann Carter earned the most 20s at 79, but finished only 6th with 48 points. Just ahead of them were Alex Ostrem and Pete Wiley at 49 points, but still shy of the top 4. Conrad Sitter and Bill Heather were the lucky ones to squeak into the final spot with 51 points, while Rueben and Abijah Jong (56), Bob Jones and John Lichty (58) and Dave White and Murray Perdue (61) found themselves atop the heap. The recreational playoffs saw the fortunes turn, as Rueben and Abijah Jong finished 1st, followed by Sitter/Heather, Jones/Lichty and White/Perdue.
In the competitive playoffs, and 3-4 page playoff saw Reesor/Miltenburg take on Gauthier/Tarle in a do-or-die match. Reesor/Miltenburg took an early lead in the "first to 12 points" match, only to have Gauthier/Tarle come back with in striking distance, before Reesor/Miltenburg finished it off 13-9.
Meanwhile, Beierling/Beierling and Slater/Slater fought for the automatic entrance into the championship final. Continuing their unbeaten streak, Jason and Ray Beierling comfortably took the match 12-6, sending Justin and Fred Slater to play Miltenburg/Reesor in the semifinal.
With Miltenburg/Reesor coming in with confidence, and Slater/Slater fixing some of their mistakes from the earlier match, it was a thrilling semifinal. Fred and Justin Slater were able to avenge their 7-1 loss to Miltenburg/Reesor earlier in the day, to pull off the great victory 12-10.
That set the final to be a rematch of the 1-2 page playoff, putting the defending Ontario Doubles Champions against the defending World Champions. While there are sure to be rematches in the future, the day belonged to Jason and Ray Beierling, as they dominated the final 13-3, to win their 2nd Ontario Doubles Crokinole Championship.
The doubles theme continues on the recreational side of the next stop on the NCA Tour, as Owen Sound hosts their Scenic City Crokinole Tournament on November 22nd. The competitive side will return to singles action as Louis Gauthier hopes to defend his title, and the all of us hope the weather will be give way to bearable driving conditions.
There is still time to register for the tournament, details can be found below.