NWT Curling was able to do something this year that no other jurisdiction in Canada can lay claim to this season: play a full slate of championships that led to a national championship, either already played or upcoming.
The last two of those championships happened at the Yellowknife Curling Centre this past weekend and with them came some of the best curling of the season.
The NWT Senior Men’s Curling Championship was first up on March 17 and 18 with four teams from Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik doing battle for the right to wear the colours in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., in December. The final featured the rinks skipped by Glen Hudy and Ed Sattelberger respectively with Hudy coming out on top by a score of 6-5 in two extra ends.
That’s right – a second extra end, one of the rarities in competitive curling.
Brian Kelln played third for Hudy’s rink and said this year’s field was one of the stronger in recent years.
“It was a really good level of competition and it really made everyone play their best,” he said. “Some years, we’ve only had two teams so you’re playing a best-of-five and that gets boring after a while so having more teams made it fun.”
The four teams played a single round-robin with the top two teams – Hudy and Sattelberger – advancing straight to the final. Hudy finished tops with a perfect record and had the hammer to open things up but it was Sattelberger who drew first blood with a steal of two in the first end. Both teams traded singles in ends two and three before Hudy scored three with the hammer in the fourth to take a 4-3 lead at the break.
After trading singles in the fifth and sixth ends, they would blank the seventh end before Sattelberger scored a single in the eighth end to tie the game, 5-5, and send it to bonus curling.
And that’s where the fun began.
Normally, one extra end is all that’s needed to solve a game but in this instance, it didn’t. Both Hudy and Sattelberger had rocks right on the pin and a measurement was called to see which rock was closer. The measuring device was brought out but it was unable to get an accurate reading.
“The official was able to get the stick in but it was tilted one way so it wouldn’t be able to give a fair measurement,” said Kelln. “They couldn’t get the dial onto the rock.”
The ruling was that because a measurement couldn’t be accurately obtained, the end was declared a blank, meaning a second extra end.
“I’ve played games with a second extra end but never like that,” said Kelln. “Both teams were fine with the decision.”
With Hudy getting the hammer back for the 10th end, he was able to draw to the four-foot with his last rock to score a single and come out on top.
With the spot in the Soo all sewn up, Kelln said he’s hopeful they’ll be able to play at the national championships this year; the 2020 edition of the event was cancelled at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I hope it starts to clear up and we can get inside the bubble to play,” he said. “I’m sure there will be some protocols in place because it’s a large event with plenty of people coming in from all over the country but we’re all looking forward to it.”
When it comes to the club championship, it was an all-Inuvik affair as Mark Robertson and Mel Sittichinli did battle following the five-team round-robin which featured rinks from Yellowknife and Fort Smith as well.
Robertson defeated Sittichinli, 8-5, in seven ends to earn the right to move on to the Canadian Curling Club Championships in Ottawa in November.