Team Smallwood is Brier bound.
The Whitehorse curling rink kept their season-long win streak going at the Yukon Men’s Curling Championships and grabbed the territory’s spot at the Brier qualifier next month in Calgary.
“It feels good. Got butterflies in the stomach and it’s off to the Brier again,” said skip Robert Smallwood. “It’s been a while since I’ve been there, so hopefully we’ll do well in the relegation round.”
Team Smallwood went 5-0 in the round-robin format championships over the weekend at the Whitehorse Curling Club.
But it was no walk in the park; Smallwood finished with two extra-end wins.
The team clinched the title with a 7-6 win over Team Hilderman in the 11-end after dropping a 4-0 lead.
“They gathered momentum from the two-ender that they scored and they managed to capitalize on another end and got another two,” said Smallwood. “It threw me off my game a little bit, but I managed to struggle through it.”
Had Smallwood dropped the game, they would have faced defending champ Team Paslawski in a tiebreaker Sunday afternoon. Team Paslawski, led by skip Pat Paslawski, placed second with a 4-1 record over the weekend. Walter Wallingham’s team, George Hilderman’s team and Ray Mikkelsen’s team each went 2-3 at the championships. Tyler Williams’ team went winless.
Team Smallwood also won 9-4 over Wallingham, 7-2 over Paslawski, 9-4 over Mikkelsen and 10-8 over Williams in an extra end.
On board with Smallwood is third Wade Scoffin, second Steve Fecteau, lead Clint Ireland and fifth Scott Odian.
“This weekend we had a five-person team, so we mixed it up a little bit on the bottom end,” said Smallwood. “We swapped out a player here and there throughout the weekend. It worked, we ended up winning.”
Team Smallwood will face Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and N.W.T. in the new pre-qualifier event added to the national championship this year, the Brier event office told the News on Monday. (There will no longer be a playdown between Yukon and N.W.T. for a position at the Brier.) Following a round robin, the two top teams will play a deciding game during the first draw of the Brier on Feb. 28. The winner will move into the main draw and will start with a game against Team Ontario in the evening.
“P.E.I. and Nova Scotia have both had good curlers come out of their province,” said Smallwood. “I think our chances are fair. If we curl the way we can curl, I think we’re going to make it.”
Smallwood competed at the Brier in 1994 and 1995, the latter with Odian, coming home with two wins each time. Scoffin has been to three Briers so far in his career. Smallwood and his wife Jody have represent Yukon at the Canadian Mixed Curling Championships the last two years. In November their team, which included Scoffin, produced a 5-4 record at the mixed nationals for the best performance by a Yukon rink at the championship since at least 2000.
Team Smallwood also went undefeated at the Polar Eyes Optometry Cashspiel at the end of November.
Team Koltun will make another run at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts – the national women’s championship – next month in Moose Jaw, Sask.
The Whitehorse rink was the only women’s team to register for the Yukon Women’s Curling Championships and thereby earned the territory’s spot in the qualifier for the 2015 Scotties. The team includes skip Sarah Koltun, third Chelsea Duncan, second Patty Wallingham, lead Jenna Duncan, fifth Lindsay Moldowan and coach Bill Tschirhart.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org