© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Steve Laycock makes a line call during Sunday's final at the Sask. Curling Tour championship in Moose Jaw.
There were a lot of different paths back to the SaskTel provincial Tankard for defending champion Steve Laycock.
Sunday Laycock’s Saskatoon rink qualified for the men’s provincial curling championship the easy way by winning the Saskatchewan Curling Tour Championship at Mosaic Place.
Laycock and his rink of third Joel Jordison from Moose Jaw, second Brennen Jones and lead Dallan Muyres went unbeaten at the tour championship and capped his five-win weekend with a 6-4 victory over Saskatoon’s Bruce Korte.
“It’s been a whole fall of watching how other teams were doing and how the points race was shaping up,” said Laycock. “To leave it to the last event — and an event where we had to do it ourselves — feels better than just getting it because another team didn’t get points. I think it actually worked out the best for us.”
With Laycock’s win the field for the Tankard — to be held Feb. 1-5 in Assiniboia — has begun to fill.
Six teams officially qualified Sunday. Korte knew before the tour final that he would advance due to his position in the SCT standings.
“We came in here with the goal of making provincials and we did that,” said Korte who was happy with his rink’s weekend. “We’ve put together four spiels in a row where we’ve got to the final of every one. We’re playing quite well.”
Korte is joined by Regina’s Jamie Schneider as the SCT qualifiers. Schneider finished tied with Kevin Marsh in the SCT standings but qualifies due to winning their only head-to-head match of the season.
Moose Jaw’s Mark Herbert qualifies as the wild card due to having the most combined SCT and World Curling Tour points. Regina’s Scott Bitz and reigning national junior champion Braeden Moskowy from Regina qualified for the Tankard as the top two teams in the WCT.
In the final, Laycock was one-up with the hammer coming home. Facing one with his final shot, he was able to made a double-takeout and keep his stone in the house — sandwiched between two Korte stones — to count one.
Laycock built an early 3-0 lead after stealing in the second and third ends. He went ahead 5-2 after stealing one in the sixth, but Korte scored his second deuce with the hammer in seven to set up an interesting eighth end.