Airdrie’s Sluchinski falls short of provincial curling title
Thursday, Feb 16, 2017 05:28 pm
The 2017 Alberta Boston Pizza Cup in Westlock, held Feb. 8 to 12, was wide open for anybody to win, but Airdrie’s Aaron Sluchinski and his rink fell short of finally punching his ticket into the Tim Horton’s Brier.
With longtime Alberta champions Randy Ferby and Kevin Martin retired, no team lead by Pat Simmons, John Morris competing in British Columbia and current Alberta powerhouse Kevin Koe automatically qualified for this year’s Brier as defending champ, there was an opportunity for most of the other teams from Alberta to finally make a push to qualify for the national championship.
Unfortunately for Sluchinski, he missed out on that chance and felt like this was his best chance to represent Alberta on the national level.
“We had our ups and downs (at the event),” Sluchinski said. “At times we played at an elite level and at other played unlike an elite team. We just weren’t consistent enough.
“I think any team there besides Brendan Bottcher would tell you (this tournament was a missed opportunity).”
Coming in as the seventh seed, Sluchinski kicked off his provincials with a strong win on Feb. 8 when he knocked tenth-seeded Graham Powell 7-3 to setup a matchup with the second-ranked Bottcher of Edmonton later in the day.
Bottcher and his rink were on another level though, going undefeated in five games en route to the team’s first Alberta provincial title and Sluchinski was just the first victim. The local rink fell 8-5 to the eventual champions in the second round of the A Event.
“(Bottcher) didn’t drop a game. They were really on their game,” Sluchinski said. “Usually the team that steps up like that is going to win.”
The loss dropped the Airdrie rink down to the B Event where it faced off with the Jamie King rink on Feb. 9. After a 7-3 victory, Sluchinski and company were on to the next round where it faced off against the James Pahl rink.
Once again, Sluchinski fell in the quarterfinal of an event, falling 6-3 on the evening of Feb. 9 to Pahl.
With the loss, Sluchinski had to win his next two games on Feb. 10 and 11 if his team had any hopes of making it through the C Event and into the Championship Round.
Sluchinski started his run on Feb. 10 with an impressive 5-4 win over an up-and-coming team led by Thomas Scoffin. Sluchinski then completed his run in the Qualifier #3 final when he avenged his loss to the Pahl rink with a 9-5 win, punching his ticket back into the championship round.
“That game came down to making key shots here and there and putting pressure on them,” Sluchinski said. “It was a really scrappy game. Both teams didn’t actually play that well.”
Sluchinski’s bid for a provincial title came to an end on the evening of Feb. 11 when his rink lost to the Ted Appelman team 10-6 in the 3-4 playoff round.
This was Sluchinski’s fifth time competing at the Boston Pizza Cup and third time as skip. In each of his three times calling shots for his team, the Airdronian has led his team to the championship round. His best finish came in 2013 when he lost in the semifinal to Koe 6-2.
In his other two times in the Championship Round, Sluchinski has lost out in the 3-4 page playoff game.
“We really felt like we were on the cusp of winning it this weekend, especially with no Koe or Martin there,” Sluchinski said. “It just didn’t go our way in a couple of games.