Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Beierling Wins 2nd Turtle Island Tournament

Just South of the Canadian border Ray Beierling captured his second title at the US stop of the NCA Tour in Lewiston, New York. Beating Nathan Walsh in the finals of the Turtle Island Crokinole Tournament, Ray Beierling made it his 9th straight NCA Tour with winning a tournament title.

The weekend event began with a Friday Night Social, where the many guests were treated to food and crokinole action, while the remainder of the guests battled the border traffic on the Saturday morning. The tournament attendance reached another high, up to 47 in it’s 5th edition.

The morning began with preliminary round play, having the competitive and recreational fields split into 2 groups, while many Canadians shared their unique and always entertaining stories of trying to explain to a US border guard what exactly is a crokinole tournament.

After the first round a hearty lunch was provided as just a small piece of the hospitality and welcoming that makes the New York event so great. The experience of the Turtle Island Crokinole Tournament is a special one, and should be an NCA Tour stop that every crokinole player needs to partake in. The country-side setting of Lewiston is quite something just over the border, and the Tuscarora Nation House is a spectacle. The large windows, high ceilings and big common rooms have the makings of a great community centre, while the artwork adds unique character to the facility. Of particular note is the design of “The Moochie Man” (coined by Dale Henry) on the floor just after the main entrance into the building.

In the crokinole action, Zionne Jong come out very strong to win the Recreation C title, just ahead of Tiffany Henry. Meanwhile, Wayne Wolfgang and Dave Carnahan had been battling each other at the top of the Recreation B pool all afternoon, finishing 1-2 in the round robin at 42 and 38 points. Wolfgang scored the victory with 15 points, edging Carnahan, who had 14, in the playoffs.

In the Recreational A pool, Abijah Jong finished 3rd in the round robin, but turned it on in the playoffs, to win the title with 16 points. Just behind were Derek McKie, Jo Ann Carter and Christina Campbell, who rounded out the top 4 of the recreational side.

For the Competitive C title, Barry Kiggins and Beverly Vaillancourt faced each other in a thriller of a championship game. The “first to 11 points” format saw the two of them trade rounds back and forth before Kiggins broke a 9-9 tie to take the match and the C title 11-9.

In Pool B, Roy Campbell was playing well just after missing the Pool A cutoff, and grabbed the number one seed for the playoffs with 38 points. Dave Meijer had narrowly made the Pool B, but came out firing to earn the second spot with 36 points, as they were joined by Eric Miltenburg and Tony “Twenty” Snyder. Miltenburg won his semifinal against Meijer, while Campbell took a 10-6 decision over Snyder. And by that point, Campbell was showing the same form that earned him the Owen Sound title and the runner-up finish in St. Jacobs last season, as he won the final over Miltenburg 12-6.

The competitive Pool A group included many players who claimed they had not been practicing, when most likely the opposite was true. Regardless, Nathan Walsh, Ray Beierling and Andrew Hutchinson played very well through the round robin, all earning point totals in the 30s to grab the first 3 playoff positions. There was a significant log-jam for the final spot as Roger Vaillancourt scored 24 points, and Jon Conrad had 25, but it was Dwayne Campbell earning his second NCA playoff appearance (the first being the 2015 ODCC) with 26 points.

Both semifinal matches were fine displays of 20s scoring, with all four players looking comfortable racking up the centres. Walsh would defeat Campbell and Beierling would win over Hutchinson to set up 4th championship encounter between Walsh and Beierling. Walsh won their first encounter in London in 2014, and jumped out to a big lead of 7-1 through 4 rounds. But Beierling (a victor in Owen Sound in 2014, and Hamilton in 2015) responded to lead 9-7. Walsh won the following round to level the first to 11 match at 9-9, where Beierling proved to be better, winning the 2016 Turtle Island Crokinole Tournament.

And with the close of the New York tournament, the NCA Tour pauses for the remainder of the Summer, but will return North of the border in September for the 6th annual Belleville Crokinole Challenge, presented by the Quinte Region Crokinole Club.