It’s been quite the homecoming for Jamie Koe. The Inuvik-born curler’s squad clinched the NWT Curling Mixed Championship in a Saturday morning showdown March 6.

Chasity O’Keefe and Cole Parsons follow a rock thrown by Jamie Koe during the final round of the NWT Mixed Curling Championship at the Inuvik Curling Centre March 6. Team Koe held on to a lead to win the championship.

Team Koe edged over Team Robertson in the final round, which had to be played to an extra end to determine the winner.

“My roots are here, so it’s always a pleasure to come back,” said Koe, who thanked his teammates Megan Kohler, Cole Parsons and Chasity O’Keefe for bringing the victory home. “We’re just lucky we could have this event with Covid-19.

“We got a big break in the second end when we stole four. From there we were just hitting the wave but they were clawing back and playing well, so we had to be sharp.”

Jamie Koe of Team Koe keeps his eye on the prize during a Saturday morning showdown March 6. Team Koe edged Team Robertson to take the win and claim the NWT Curling Mixed Championship.

Koe thanked the Inuvik Curling Club for their service as excellent hosts and added it was always a pleasure to visit.

Team Koe will now represent the NWT at the National Mixed Championships in Canmore, Alta, in November.

The NWT Curling championships continued through the weekend, with the U18 boys and girls leagues squaring off throughout Sunday and the girls into Monday morning.

It was a late Sunday night for Team Naugler, who defeated Team MacNeil in a best-of-two just shortly after 9 p.m. The lone Yellowknife team defeated all three Inuvik squads on their home turf.

2021’s NWT U18 male curling champions follow a late night closer which saw team Naugler win a best of two series. Team Naugler will represent the NWT at the National Championship in Timmins, Ont. next February. L-R: Adam Naugler, Jullian Bowling, coach Tara Naugler, Shawn Dragon and Tasir Bhuiyan. Photo courtesy NWT Curling.

It was an early rise the next morning for Team Gillis, which took to the girls U18 final against Team Rogers from Yellowknife.

Bullseye! Team Gillis (red) managed to place a rock square on the button during the fifth end of the championship game.

The two squads were neck-and-neck throughout the morning until a lucky curl from Team Gillis left a rock sitting right on the button.

“That was really scary,” said Pearl Gillis. “But I’m happy I made it.”

With the brooms sweeping their way, Team Gillis was able to hang on to a narrow lead to take the championship.

Noting the win had not settled in, Tyanna Bain said the team was going to be back to practice right away to prepare for the national finals in the fall in Timmins, Ont.

Both winning U18 teams and the runner-ups will now be able take high-performance coaching lessons to prepare them for the national finals. Those lessons kick off in June.

Team Gillis celebrates after winning the NWT Curling U18 girls championship. They will represent the NWT in Timmins, Ont. this fall. L-R: Pearl Gillis, Tyanna Bain, Coach Tanis Bain, Tyra Bain and Tamara Bain.

In total, 12 teams came out for the tournament, with four per category. Three teams made the trek from Yellowknife, while the remaining nine hailed from Inuvik.

To keep the event Covid-19 safe, rules were altered slightly. Instead of a double round-robin, the girls instead limited themselves to three games apiece and the boys championship was reduced from a best-of-five to a best-of-three.

Sweepers were limited to one per throw and lanes were staggered to ensure safe social distancing.

Eric Bowling

Covering all things related to the Beaufort Delta, Eric Bowling is your editor for the Inuvik Drum. He came north after cutting his teeth in Alberta. Eric enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee.

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