You wouldn’t think there would be curling in the month of May but things haven’t exactly been normal in recent times.
So when Pearl Gillis and her rink of Tyra Bain, Adrianna Hendrick and Tamara Bain, based out of the Inuvik Curling Centre, took to the ice at the Canadian U18 Curling Championships in Oakville, Ont., earlier this month, it was like any other bonspiel.
Just in May.
The foursome competed on the girls side of the draw and didn’t leave without hitting the win column. In fact, they managed two victories and both of those wins came at the expense of the two Quebec teams: 6-4 over Quebec 2 on May 3 and 7-6 over Quebec 1 the following day.
Gillis admitted she and the girls were hoping for a bit more than that.
“We were looking to win more than two,” she said. “We had our ups and downs and we had some bad ends but we still played some great games and I’m really proud of the team.”
Those two victories came in pool play and were tucked in between four losses and that meant the girls would play in the C bracket of the playoff pool. They were forced to forfeit their first playoff game versus Newfoundland and Labrador because of a bug that went through everyone on the team, except Gillis, but they came back for their final contest against Prince Edward Island, which ended in a 7-3 loss.
“A lot of people on teams were getting sick,” said Gillis. “We had to forfeit because we didn’t have enough players to play.”
Before heading to Oakville, the girls got a chance to get three days of practice time in Manitoba; there was no ice in Inuvik for the girls to work on before making the trip.
“We went to a year-round rink and we were lucky to get that time,” said Gillis.
This year’s tournament is the first one in three years as it’s either been cancelled or postponed since 2020. Oakville wasn’t even the original host site for this year’s bonspiel — Timmins, Ont., was set to host it back in February but a surge of Covid-19 in the province forced Curling Canada to postpone it.
Gillis said she was just happy to get the chance to play.
“Playing it two or three months later was disappointing but we were still excited to get to play,” she said. “At least it wasn’t cancelled.”
This was the final go-round for this current set-up of Team Gillis as they will all be doing something different next year.
Gillis said she and Hendrick will be graduating in June and plan to focus on education for the time being instead of high-level curling.
“We won’t be doing it competitively,” she said. “When we get to university or college, we’ll probably get back into it but we aren’t leaving the sport completely.”