By: Peyton Sivak
As we approach the beginning of the 2017 Stones season, it is time to look at some of the upcoming, underrated players we expect to make an impact in the Year of the Rooster. In Chinese mythology, the rooster is regarded as a symbol of fidelity and punctuality and the rooster’s crow was significant in getting people up to start a day’s work. And as we get closer to this much anticipated season, some say they can hear the rooster calling. The time is now to show off the skills, the mind, the heart, and the hunger for victory that is required to compete in today’s game and the game of tomorrow…
With that being said, here are the top 3 players that I believe will make themselves known this year:
- Doug Larson
Doug finished the 2016 season on a strong note as a finalist in the Pumpkin Seed Invitational, earning himself a spot in the 2017 World Championships. In the final game of the tournament, Doug, battling alongside a left handed Jeff Slater, displayed great poise and composure through the entirety of the game and made crucial throws in the back and forth shootout that ensued. The team’s dual handedness also proved to be a deadly advantage navigating around the trees and bushes at the beautiful new course at Hope’s Windows. In the end they were defeated on the last stretch but not without demonstrating that they would be a force to be reckoned with in the world of Stones. Doug has played in numerous tournaments in past years including two World Championship appearances in which he put up 21 points, 2 knockouts, a kiss and a six; a respectable performance as well. But, look for him to make an even bigger splash this season and be sure to look out for him and Jeff in the World Championships.
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2. Erik Johnson
Erik is a fairly new player to the game and already shows great promise. Playing alongside Kade Sivak for most of his career, they are an exciting young duo. They made an unexpected run at the previous World Championships when they knocked out heavy favorites Camren Nelson and Brian Haley and continued to climb the bracket. Erik’s most memorable performance with Kade would have to be the overtime thriller against Lake Sivak and myself when they reached the semi-finals. During the game, Erik showed his athleticism and competitive drive. He and Kade carried the momentum from their previous game by creating an early lead and preserving it until late in OT. It definitely took an incredible amount of strategic intuition, and execution of world class long throws to speed up the pace of the game the way they did and while still staying comfortably in control of the game. And although they were defeated, Erik stepped up to the spot on a 25 yard throw in double overtime with an opposition ball only a few feet away from the mark (in the face of elimination) and hurled his 100mm stone to land a foot away from the mark, keeping the game alive. An incredible elite level throw. Despite it being Erik’s first World Championship, he put up a ridiculous 30 points, 3 assists (most in the tournament), 3 sixes and a knockout. Erik and Kade’s playing styles complement each other nicely and I expect them to make a big impact this season.
3. Greg Benson
Greg has been involved in the game for several years, but he has not been relevant lately.
However, rumours around the game are revealing that he may team up with elite veteran Jason Sivak in this year’s STBC League. If this partnership comes together, league players beware! Greg is a tall, athletic player that has the natural ability to make accurate throws at various distances and he also has the experience required to make strategic in-game decisions. This playstyle combined with Jason’s knockout capabilities and clutch late game cool, would be a lethal combination. Greg has played in two world championships recording 21 points, 3 knockouts, 2 kisses and no water balls.
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