Before leaving to compete at the Dominion Curling Club Championships last week in Thunder Bay, Ont., the Yukon men’s team had a modest goal.
“Honestly, before we left, we were just hoping to win a game,” said skip Pat Paslawski. “We would have been happy to have just won one game. That was honestly our goal, just to keep expectations low. That helps to keep everyone on the team relaxed.
“When we won our first game we said, ‘Right on, we can just have fun now.’ It kind of got easier from then on because the pressure was off.”
The Paslawski rink far exceeded their goal.
Both Yukon rinks representing the Whitehorse Curling Club produced historic runs at the championship for club-level curlers.
Paslawski’s men’s team and Nicole Baldwin’s women’s team both reached the playoffs, losing to Saskatchewan in the semifinals on Friday.
On both accounts it was the first time a Yukon team advanced past the round-robin at the championship.
“It was a very good week for both of us,” said Baldwin. “I’m very proud of my team and I’m sure Pat – I can’t speak for him – is very proud of his team.”
Pasklawski went 5-1 in the round-robin to make the semis, defeating N.W.T., Manitoba, New Brunswick, B.C. and Northern Ontario.
Their only loss in the robin was 6-2 to Alberta, who went on to take gold.
The rink, which includes third Doug Hamilton, second Alexx Peech and lead Trent Derkatch, lost 5-1 to Saskatchewan in the semi.
“We’re really proud of ourselves and we’re really proud of the girls too,” said Paslawski. “Everyone was curling well, we were good sportsmen and we represented the Yukon really well. The curling was good but everything else was just as important.”
The Baldwin team went 4-2 with wins over N.W.T., Alberta, New Brunswick and Northern Ontario in the robin for a berth in the semifinal.
They were just a shot away from reaching the final, but fell 6-5 to Saskatchewan in an extra end in the semi.
“I had an opportunity to win it and I came up short on the draw,” said Baldwin, who was joined by third Ladene Shaw, second Helen Strong and lead Rhonda Horte.
Paslawski, Derkatch and Hamilton have been curling together for about five years, said the skip, but last week was their first bonspiel with Peech.
Both rinks are filled with experience at national championships.
Paslawski has curled at two mixed nationals in 1995 and 1997, and the Tim Hortons Brier in 1999 with Peech’s father. Hamilton competed at a mixed nationals in 1988. Peech threw granite at the junior nationals in 2004 and 2005.
Last week was Baldwin’s second time at Dominion, second time for Strong and third time for Shaw. Horte has curled at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
“We played to our game-plan and I’m very proud of my team for where we reached at the Dominions,” said Baldwin. “It was a great week.”
Neither team will return to next year’s Dominion championship due to a new rule by the Whitehorse Curling Club that stipulates no team can go two years in a row.
“It’s to make sure this opportunity get shared around,” said Paslawski. “I like the rule, honestly, because I’m just so thrilled to go and represent the Yukon, and I’ll go back to Whitehorse and tell all my friends and family that I just had so much fun. We’re hoping the word will get around that there are some pretty good opportunities for adults athletes in curling.”
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