If home field means much in crokinole, it sure showed as Jason and Ray Beierling were able to turn the tide in an elite level final against Jon Conrad and Tony Snyder, winning the match for their 3rd consecutive Ontario Doubles Crokinole Championship.
A field of 52 strong made up 26 teams for the 6th annual Ontario Doubles Crokinole Championship, packing the hall of the Brucefield United Church on Halloween. While everyone came for the crokinole, the costumes of many crokinole players brought out a joyful exuberance, well aligned with the good spirit that comes from the game.
12 doubles teams competed for the provincial title in the competitive division. Among the field was two teams with multiple world titles and several more with a proven track record in high quality competition.
A full round robin was played in the competitive pool, with each team looking to score enough points to make the top 4 and advance to the playoffs. Jon Conrad and Tony Snyder were the class of the field, scoring 62 points and a tournament high 121 20s, for the number one seed. The two-time defending champion Beierling brothers finished 2nd with 55 points.
Dwayne and Christina Campbell may have flown under-the-radar in the tournament, but they certainly won't be anymore, as they scored 53 points and 93 20s to take the 3rd seed. Equaling the Campbells in points were Tom and Rex Johnston, who took the 4th seed with 88 20s.
Howard Martin and Roy Campbell unfortunately missed the playoffs due to a "cooling-off" in the afternoon. They settled for 5th place with 48 points. The local team of Ab Leitch and Cor Vanden Hoven were just behind with 47 points, and Abijah and Reuben Jong followed with 45.
In the Recreational division, the morning round robin was followed by splitting the field into 2 groups for the afternoon. In Group B, Doug and Dave Mills had the top spot with 33 points and were joined in the finals by Doris Giddings and Phylis Lightfoot who scored 30 points through 5 games. Despite being the lower seed, Giddings and Lightfoot came through in the finals and claimed the Recreational B division title.
In the Group A Recreational division, John Lichty and Bob Jones easily took the top seed with 27 points. Peter and Jo-Ann Carter joined them in the final with 23 points, but not before they barely fought off Bill and Kathy Geris (scoring 21 points) and Andrew Hutchinson and George Whittal (20 points).
In what was a great seesaw battle, Peter and Jo-Ann Carter came through in the clutch. Tied at 8-8 in a "first to 9" match, the Carters edged out Lichty and Jones in the final round for the 10-8 victory and the Recreational A title.
The competitive division playoffs kicked off with Conrad/Snyder playing Johnston/Johnston, and Beierling/Beierling playing Campbell/Campbell. While both matches were entertaining and filled with lots of the strategic attention-to-detail that comes with the rhythm of doubles play, Conrad/Snyder and Beierling/Beierling showed why they own multiple World Crokinole Championship titles, and advanced to the final.
The final match began with two high quality rounds that set the stage for the epic match, but both rounds went to the team with hammer, making it 2-2, with the victor being the first to 9 points.
The reigning World Champions, Conrad and Snyder, were flawless in the next two rounds and took a 6-2 lead. But the Beierlings brought the match back to 6-6 after two high scoring rounds. The definitive moment of the match may have come mid-way through the 7th round, when Ray Beierling lined up a shot looking to make a double takeout of two opposing discs sitting in the 15 circle. While a double takeout would have been impressive, it was the fact that he also managed to score a 20 that brought the house down. From there, Jason and Ray Beierling had all the momentum they needed, and won the match 10-6.
As mentioned, it was the third straight year the Beierling brothers have claimed victory at the tournament which they operate so well. Their streak of victories began in 2013, at the same time that Brian Cook and Fred Slater's streak of 3 straight victories at the event ended. Will they be able to make it 4 straight next year?
For now, the NCA and the focus shifts to the November stop in Owen Sound on Saturday the 28th. Ray Beierling returns to the event as the defending champion and will look to add to his NCA Tour leading score of 191 points.