There may not have been much chance to practice before they left, but that didn’t stop two Yellowknife curling teams from winning big last weekend.
The NWT Seniors Curling Championships were held in Hay River from March 8 to 12. There was a men’s and women’s event; the men’s started off first on March 8 with five teams from Yellowknife, Hay River and Fort Smith playing a round-robin format. The women’s division had just two teams entered — Sharon Cormier of Yellowknife and Deb Stanley of Hay River — and that meant they played a best-of-five tournament. The first team to win three games would be declared the champion.
The first game of the women’s event was on March 10 and Cormier won, 11-2. Cormier’s team stole almost all of their points, including five points in the fifth end. The second game was later that evening, which Cormier won, 14-1. Just like the first game, Cormier and her team stole many of their points with a steal of seven points in the fifth end being the big one.
The third game was much closer, but Cormier still won, 7-3.
It was still a tough game, said Cormier.
“We ran them out of rocks, but I still had to throw my last rocks in the eighth (end) to clinch it,” she said.
The men’s tournament had Tom Naugler face off against Ed Sattelberger in an all-Yellowknife final on Sunday. Naugler’s team won, 6-4, to be crowned champions. His team won all six games played.
Naugler said Sattelberger made things very difficult for his team.
“Ed just kept pushing and we had to make our shots,” he said. “There was a bit of rust with our team and it showed in the last couple of games, but we made the right shots at the right time.”
Each team played four games in the round-robin and the top four made the playoffs, which was held under what’s called the Page format. That means the first and second-placed teams had two chances to make the final, while the third and fourth-placed teams only had one. Naugler finished first and beat Jim Lockhart of Fort Smith to advance automatically to the final on Sunday. Lockhart dropped down to the semifinal, where he played Sattelberger. Sattelberger had beaten Glen Hudy of Yellowknife to move into the semifinal.
Because Naugler was higher in the standings, he started the game with last rock and scored three to take a 3-0 lead after the first end. Sattelberger got last rock in the second end and scored two to make it 3-2, and he stole one in the third end to tie the game at 3-3. Naugler scored one with last rock in the fourth end to regain the lead, 4-3. Sattelberger tied the game in the sixth end, 4-4, but Naugler took the lead again after he scored two in the seventh end to make it 6-4.
Naugler had to force Sattelberger out of rocks in the last end to clinch the win.
Both of the winning teams from Yellowknife had virtually no practice time before playing in Hay River.
Cormier said her team was able to get about 20 minutes of practice before their first game, but the approach to playing was like riding a bike.
“We were just excited to have a chance to play again and we didn’t think we’d get the chance to do that,” she said. “We went out and had fun.”
The winning teams now advance to the Canadian Seniors Curling Championships in Vernon, B.C., in December. It will be Naugler’s first time playing in the senior nationals and he said his team is looking forward to it.
“It’s the first time for Cory (Vanthuyne) and Quentin (Deering) playing at a national and they’re really stoked,” he said.