Had this been just a regular game, Mark Robertson and Mel Sittichinli would have been facing off against each other as skips at the Inuvik Curling Club for the umpteenth time.
This time, the skips met in Yellowknife for a territorial championship with a trip to the nation’s capital on the line.
And it would be Robertson and his rink of Nick Saturnino, Michael Fraser and Glen Tingmiak who would come out on top by a score of 8-5 in the final on March 21. The win gives Robertson and company a trip to Ottawa in November for the Canadian Curling Club Championships.
Robertson said it was a back-and-forth affair from the word go.
“Both teams were taking advantage of the hammer and it was a lot like all of our other games: tight all the way through,” he said.
Robertson had the hammer to start the final by virtue of having a perfect record in the five-team round-robin – four wins out of four. After a blank in the first, Robertson scored a deuce in the second, only to have Sittichinli come back in the third to score three with last rock to take a 3-2 lead. Robertson would score another two in the fourth to jump back out in front, 4-3, at the break.
Both teams traded deuces in the fifth and sixth ends with the big blow coming in the seventh as Robertson stole two to extend his lead to 8-5. He was able to run Sittichinli out of rocks in the eighth to claim victory.
Robertson said he knew it would turn into a shooting gallery based on past games against Sittichinli.
“We were both encouraged and concerned at the same time,” he said. “We’re very familiar with each other and I think both of us knew it would go right down to the final end.”
It’s the second year in a row Robertson has skipped his team to victory and he’s hoping to be able to get to Ottawa for nationals this time around. Last year’s trip was scuttled due to Covid-19.
“Three out four of us were on the team last year so I’m hoping Covid gets settled down in Ontario and the vaccine will start helping things out,” he said. “We’re excited to be able to go.”
This is the end of the competitive season for NWT Curling and the organization was able to do what no other jurisdiction in the country could do: have every scheduled territorial championship happen with no cancellations. A total of 11 events happened between Inuvik and Yellowknife inside of bubbles approved by the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer.
Saturnino, who’s also NWT Curling’s president, said it all happened because everyone did what they had to do in order to keep things safe.
“We could only control what we could control,” he said. “We managed to get our mitigation plans in place and it all worked out for us. No one came down with symptoms or became ill.”