The Schooner Curling Club's annual Open Cash Spiel was held from February 16-18 and was a huge success, arguably the best Cash Spiel ever held at the club. The weekend was packed with great curling action, great food and great entertainment that went from start to finish. Even the 'A' final went to an extra end. The spiel boasted a full slate of 16 teams and was filled long before the event ever began. Teams included a number from the Schooner and Sydney Curling Clubs, two from Port Hawkesbury and one, skipped by Kris Granchelli, that was a reunion of four old friends, two who are current Schooner members and two who are curling now in Halifax. Play got underway early on Friday to allow time for all teams to see their first action of the spiel that night. Winning teams would remain in the top division while losers would drop to the 'B' division for their second games. The first draw was at 4pm on Friday and pitted Schooner's Wayne 'Bull' Bonnell against Bubs Stone of the Sydney CC on one sheet and two Schooner rinks, Wally MacDonald and Brian Laughlin on the other. Bonnell and Laughlin were both winners and stayed in the 'A' while Stone and MacDonald would meet in the 'B' division. The two games on the 6pm draw were very close to the finish with John Donovan of Schooner taking Coralie Ayre of Sydney to the final rocks before dropping a close decision and Todd Mercer also pushed Sebastien LeFort's rink, both from the Sydney CC, to the brink before dropping a one point decision. The next draw at 8pm saw the Tom Wagner rink from Port Hawkesbury take on Schooner's Omar Roach. Wagner was almost unable to compete at the event when two of the team came down with the flu and couldn't come. Robert Agnew and Blair Gentile filled in on the team and allowed them to play their games. The other game at 8pm saw Kenny Keough from Sydney take on Kris Granchelli of Halifax. Granchelli was joined by friends John Penny, also from Halifax, and Kenny Thomas and Todd MacAulay from Schooner. Roach and Granchelli were winners in that draw. The final draw of the night was scheduled for 10pm but ended up hitting the ice about 30 minutes late. That saw Schooner's Gordie Cormier taking on Port Hawkesbury's Donnie McCuspic and Sydney's Kurt Roach facing Schooner's Chris 'Slugger' MacLeod. Both Schooner teams went down to defeat and Roach and McCuspic stayed to play in the top division. Friday was more than just about the curling. On Friday night, caterer for the spiel, Tommy Young, was on hand to handle the hungry curlers and fans with an offering of delicious build-your-own pulled pork sandwiches and beef tacos. We were also treated to some great entertainment when Brian Cathcart of the band Pretty Archie took the stage for a Schooner style kitchen party. Brian did a fantastic job entertaining the big crowd all night. There was a bar tab draw on Friday as well. Tickets were $5 each and all the money raised went to the value of the tab. Wally MacDonald and Bill Farr were the lucky winners. Saturday play got underway early with the first draw starting at 8am with play in the 'B' division. Losing teams from the night before would take the ice to try and redeem themselves. Another loss would put teams on the brink of elimination in the spiel. The first and second draws of the day were both 'B' division and saw Bubs Stone defeat Wally MacDonald, John Donovan defeat Todd Mercer, Tom Wagner defeat Kenny Keough and Gordie Cormier was victorious over Chris 'Slugger' MacLeod. Early on Curlers were treated to coffee, tea and muffins to help get them going so early in the morning. Tommy Young was back early as well and would offer a variety of great food through the day to keep the curlers fueled up for competition. Soup, chili and sandwiches were just some of the choices offered. The noon and 2pm draws would have 'A' division take the ice for their second games of the spiel. Winners of these games would meet in the semi-final games scheduled for 8pm that would decide who would face off for the 'A' division crown on Sunday. Brian Laughlin defeated Wayne 'Bull' Bonnell to earn his place in a semi against Coralie Ayre who took out Sebastien LeFort. The second semi final was set when Kris Granchelli defeated Omar Roach and Kurt Roach beat Don McCuspic. Losers would continue play, now in the 'C' division but could not afford another loss as that would mean elimination. The 4pm draw moved back to play in the 'B' division that would determine the teams that would play for the division championship the next day. John Donovan defeated Bubs Stone and Gordie Cormier eliminated Tom Wagner to set up an all-Schooner 'B' division final on Sunday. The 6pm draw would see the first play in the 'C' division and had Sebastien LeFort eliminate the Wayne 'Bull' Bonnell rink and the Don McCuspic rink take out Omar Roach. Lefort and McCuspic would play in the 'C' Semi final on Sunday at 11am. Next we would have the 'A' division semi finals where the winners would play for the top title and the losers would drop to continue to play in the 'C' Division. It would be Coralie Ayre facing Kurt Roach in the final after they defeated Brian Laughlin and Kris Granchelli respectively in the semis. Laughlin would play Sebastien LeFort and Granchelli would play McCuspic to setup the 'C' championship game that would be played immediately after the semi final game. That wrapped up curling for Saturday but the fun continued late into the night when a great crowd stayed around to party to the music of DJ Jimmy. Play on Sunday once again started early with the first draw, a 'D' division semi final, getting underway at 9am. Those games saw Todd Mercer and Chris 'Slugger' MacLeod win and face each other in the 'D' Final. In that game, MacLeod took control early and never looked back, winning the 'D' division and the $220 prize. Mercer got $180 for second in the 'D'. The 'C' Division was still waiting to decide teams for its final and that would happen at the 11am draw. Sebastien LeFort would find his way into the final by defeating Brian Laughlin and Kris Granchelli would defeat Port Hawkesbury's Don McCuspic to earn his way in. Granchelli would win the division with a close victory over Lefort who just missed a tough double take out on his last shot that would have given him the win. The winners took home $360 and the runners-up won $240. The final draw of the weekend would see teams playing for the top two divisions. In the 'B' division, the John Donovan rink overcame an early deficit and capitalized on some of their opponents mistakes to defeat the Gordie Cormier rink in what can only be described as an upset victory. Donovan took home $420 for his efforts and Cormier won $360 in the loss. The 'A' Division final was a fitting end to a great week of curling when Coralie Ayre and Kurt Roach went to an extra end before deciding a winner. The game was back and forth all afternoon but Ayre came out on top after the extra frame and took the 'A' title. Top prize was $600 and the runners-up purse was $500. Not a bad payday for either team. Tommy young was once again present on Sunday with some more pulled pork, some hot dogs, chili, sandwiches and other treats that kept everyone's appetite at bay. Tommy did a great job keeping everyone fed and happy all weekend and we want to send him out a big thank you. So that wraps up the 2018 edition of the Schooner Cash Spiel. It was a great one. We hope that next year's spiel is equally as good if not better. A huge thank you goes out to Stephen Leslie who, along with help from the bonspiel committee, put on a fantastic event. Thank you to all the teams who took part, especially those from outside the club. We hope you will come back and join us next year. Thanks to the ice crew who worked hard to get the ice ready and keep it in great shape all weekend, to Tommy Young who did a fantastic job keeping everyone fed, to Brian Cathcart and DJ Jimmy for great entertainment, to Lynn Kelly and Frances Ford for selling tickets and keeping things running smoothly in the background, to Omar and Gary of EXP for preparing the draw sheet for everyone to follow, to bartenders, housing and to everyone else who helped out in any way, thank you very much. It was a great spiel and a great weekend but it certainly would not be possible without all the help. See you next year for the 2019 Open Cash Spiel at the Schooner.
Teams for the 2018 Open Cash Spiel