The 2020 NWT Curling Club Championships saw Mark Robertson skip his rink from the Inuvik Curling Club to victory, only to see it all go down the drain thanks to Covid-19.
The 2021 NWT Curling Club Championships this past March saw Mark Robertson skip his rink from the Inuvik Curling Club to victory and this time, he and the crew will get to go.
Robertson and his rink of Nick Saturnino, Michael Fraser and Glen Tingmiak will be the Team NWT men’s representative at the Everest Canadian Curling Club Championships in Ottawa, which get underway this coming Monday, Nov. 28. It’s the national championship for curlers at the club level, meaning none of the big guns from Canadian curling will be competing.
Robertson said knowing that everyone playing is at the club level is a nice feeling but that doesn’t mean it won’t be top-shelf curling.
“You won’t face the teams that travel to play in the big-money bonspiels but this event has a knack of seeing some pretty strong teams, especially from the bigger provinces,” he said. “Some teams who may think about playing in the Brier playdowns keep themselves out of that in the hopes of qualifying for something like this. (There are ) no giants of the game but still some pretty stiff competition.”
Robertson and company qualified for the national event by beating fellow Inuvik skip Mel Sittichinli in Yellowknife, 8-5. Under normal rules, the winner from the year before wouldn’t be eligible to enter the following year’s qualifier but because there was no national championship due to the Covid-19 cancellation, Robertson was allowed back in by NWT Curling to try and win the spot back.
He did just that and will get to go for the second time, the first time coming back in 2015.
“It’s better late than never,” he said. “I’m happy we’ll get a crack at it.”
A total of 14 rinks will be in action, split into two pools of seven for round-robin pool play. Following that, the top four teams will enter into a double-knockout playoff to determine the champion. For pool play, the NWT will be up against Northern Ontario — the team they open up against on Monday evening — B.C., Nova Scotia, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Robertson said he’s going into it one game at a time with no hopes about who he thinks the rink can beat.
“When the pools come out, you hope it breaks your way,” he said. “We’re just going to go head on with what’s in front of us.”
As for a final result, Robertson said there isn’t any set goal only that he’s hoping to put a tick or two in the win column.
“The ladies rink (Sarah Stroeder of Yellowknife) did quite well a couple of years ago,” he said. “I can’t recall the men having much success but we’re going to enjoy ourselves and do the territory and Inuvik proud. If we can leave with a win or two under our belts, I’m sure we’d be happy with that.”