One shot could have made all the difference for Team Yukon at the 2014 Canadian Mixed Curling Championship in Ottawa last week.
Playing Team Newfoundland in the pre-qualifier of the championships, Yukon skip Bob Smallwood had a shot to win the game and secure a spot in the main draw. It was not in the cards.
Instead of scoring two, he scored one, pushing the game to an extra end where Newfoundland secured a 7-5 win.
“In the 10th end I had a chance to win,” said Smallwood. “We already had one in the house to tie – they were one up in the 10th – and I had a wide open hit and I just rolled out of the ring, so it went to an extra end.”
The Yukon rink opened the double-elimination pre-qualifier with a 6-4 win over Nunavut’s Team Sattelberger. Smallwood threw a double take-out to seal the win in the final end.
Yukon – which includes lead Jody Smallwood, third Tamar Vandenberghe and second Adam Pleasant – needed just one more win to land a spot in the main event.
But the loss to Newfoundland followed by a 9-4 loss to N.W.T.‘s Team Moss spelt the end of Yukon’s run at the mixed nationals.
“I’m disappointed that I didn’t make that one shot so that we could qualify and stay,” said Bob. “On the other hand, it was a growing experience. We just started playing together as a team at the start of this curling season, so we only had six or eight games under our belt together.
“If everyone is willing to stick together we’ll probably grow as a team and put in a way better effort next year.”
The Smallwood rink first competed together at the United Way/EBA Mixed Bonspiel in Whitehorse last month, placing second in the skins-format spiel.
The team is currently playing in a Whitehorse league.
Bob and Jody – a husband and wife team – reached the quarterfinal at the Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Trials for the world championships last March in Leduc, Alta. They hope to return to the doubles championship this season.
Bob also plans to enter a men’s team in the Yukon championships with the goal of reaching the Tim Hortons Brier, the national men’s championship.
A Yukon rink hasn’t reached the Brier since 2008 and the Scotties – the national women’s championship – since 2000. No Yukon teams even made a run for either national championship last year.
The top two Yukon men’s teams from the Yukon championship will play the top-two N.W.T. teams to compete for the one spot at the Brier.
Bob has twice competed at the Brier.
“That was like 20 years ago,” he points out with a chuckle. “I think with curling you gain a little bit of wisdom the older you get.”
“There are a couple of competitive women’s teams and a handful of men’s team as well,” he added. “Hopefully we’ll be able to regain the Brier berth for the Yukon.”
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