It was a mixed bonspiel, but there were no mixed results for Team Scoffin.
Competing in the Yukon/NWT Mixed Championships at the Whitehorse Curling Club on the weekend, Team Scoffin went undefeated with a 4-0 record, earning a spot at the 2010 National Mixed Championship to be held next November in Burlington, Ontario.
For the ticket to the nationals, Team Scoffin twice defeated Whitehorse’s Team Balsam and Team Sittichinli from Inuvik, NWT.
“There was some great shot-making from both teams,” said skip Wade Scoffin. “Even with the Sittichinli team from Inuvik, even though the scores were a little more one-sided, it was great playing all the way through.”
Team Scoffin had more difficulty with Team Balsam, with both encounters going into extra ends. In their first encounter Friday, after going down 4-0 by the sixth end, Scoffin eventually won 8-5 after stealing three points in the 11th.
“The three in the extra end was because we got a lot of rocks in play and Herb (Balsam) had a difficult draw through a port that was just a rock-and-a-half wide,” said Scoffin. “If he had made it through between the two… it would have been a really difficult shot to counter.
“He rubbed against one of the blockers, so he didn’t make it in.”
“They cheated on this one though,” joked Herb Balsam, skip for Team Balsam. “He stole some points there that he wasn’t supposed to steal—he’s a thief!
“They took it away from us. I thought we had it, but they took it away from us.”
On Saturday it was almost the reverse, with Scoffin jumping out to a healthy 6-2 lead by the seventh end. Team Balsam forced an extra, getting two in the ninth and stealing two in the tenth.
“(Balsam) almost made a shot that we probably couldn’t have countered in the extra end,” said Scoffin. “It was an angle raise to get it on the button and (his shot) had a little too much weight, so we didn’t have to throw the last shot.”
Team Scoffin took the game 8-6.
“A little disappointing,” said Balsam. “But I’ll get over it.”
In the playdowns to determine which team would be Yukon’s number one and two, Team Balsam actually defeated Team Scoffin twice to capture the top seed.
“We only had two entries for that level, so we knew both teams would advance (to the territorial playdown),” said Scoffin. “But if there were more teams than that, we would have struggled.
“It’s just how sports can be when you have pretty closely balanced teams.”
The visiting Sittichinli went home winless, losing 11-5 and 9-2 against Scoffin and 12-6 and 11-4 against Balsam.
“It was good, had a lot of fun, the ice was nice, the competition was good—better than us,” said Team Sittichinli skip Melvin Sittichinli. “We pretty much got blown away.
“We needed our guards up front, but we never did that.”
“The ice is so keen,” said Edgar Maring, who threw third rock for Sittichinli. “It’s a lot faster than ours and we had a hard time getting used to it.”
Scoffin is no stranger to national competitions, having played in last year’s Brier with Chad Cowan’s team and in 2002 on Jon Solberg’s team. In 1997, he also made the trip as an alternate.
Scoffin is joined on the team by wife Helen Strong, who last week, with her women’s rink Team Strong, earned a spot at the Dominion Curling Club National Championship to be held late November in Etobicoke, Ontario. Scoffin and Strong also went to the mixed nationals a year and a half ago, going 3-8.
Joining Scoffin and Strong is Rhonda Horte who also has national level experience, having played at the Scotties in 2000.
“So it’s been a few years since she went to a national event,” said Scoffin. “But she has some good experience.”
Perhaps bringing the least experience to Team Scoffin is Steve Fecteau, making his first tip to a national competition.
“He started to curl five, seven years ago when he moved up to the Yukon,” said Scoffin. “He’s an avid sportsperson; a great athlete in hockey, golf, squash and lots of different things.”
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com