Provincial dreams slide by

From Jan. 18-20, the Meadow Lake Curling Club hosted the 2014 Sasktel Men’s Northern Curling Championship. Sixteen teams from across CurlSask’s northern division competed for five spots in the upcoming provincial tournament. Here, Meadow Lake skip Vince Huffman releases a rock while lead Terry Pylot and second Greg Kuffert prepare to sweep.

From Jan. 18-20, the Meadow Lake Curling Club hosted the 2014 Sasktel Men’s Northern Curling Championship. Sixteen teams from across CurlSask’s northern division competed for five spots in the upcoming provincial tournament. Here, Meadow Lake skip Vince Huffman releases a rock while lead Terry Pylot and second Greg Kuffert prepare to sweep.

by Derek Cornet

It wasn’t to be for hometown curler Vince Huffman after he and his team failed to qualify for provinicals after four days of competition at the 2014 Men’s Northern Curling Championships.

Held at the PineRidge Ford Curling Club Jan. 16-19 in Meadow Lake, the five qualifying provincial spots were contested in dramatic fashion. Unfortunately, for Huffman’s rink – including third Ashley Russell, second Greg Kuffert and lead Terry Pylot – they ended up losing their last two games, which dashed their hopes of moving on.

One of 16 rinks competing, the Meadow Lake foursome played all their games against Saskatoon teams. Huffman won his opening game 9-6 over Jason Jacobson. Up next was Shawn Joyce where the local rink dropped a 7-4 decision and slipped to the ‘B’ event. A 6-5 victory over Darren Camm Friday and a 9-7 win over Mike Armstrong Saturday sent Huffman to one of two ‘B’ qualifying games. However, an 8-1 drubbing to Bruce Korte put Huffman in a sudden death battle with Camm for the final ‘C’ qualifying spot Sunday afternoon.

Camm’s team struck early with single points in each of the first two ends, but Huffman came back to take over the lead 3-2 following the fifth end. Camm grabbed the lead again in the sixth with a deuce, and stole one more in the seventh for a 5-3 lead before Huffman answered with a pair in the eight to make it even again 5-5. Camm scored two in the ninth for a 7-5 edge and going in the 10th and final end, Huffman had an opportunity to score two to tie the game and push it into an extra end. However, on Huffman’s final throw he came up shy in a double-takeout attempt with Camm emerging victorious 8-5.

“We’re just a bunch of one-night-a-week curlers and we entered this because it was at home,” Huffman said prior to Sunday’s games.

While most of his team members had qualified for the Northerns event in the past, none of them had ever advanced to provincials. In spite of not making that list, Huffman said it’s reassuring to know they still have what it takes to play competitively.

“We were able to show ourselves we’re not out of our league at this level,” he said. “We can compete and throw at these guys. It’s about being on your game. Even the best teams in the world can suck if they’re not on their game.”

Russell said it was nice to play at home and have so many people give them high fives after a game. He noted, however, Huffman had a lot to do with their advancement.

“Vince has been playing really good and he has pulled us out of some tough spots,” Russell said. “It makes a world of difference when your skip is shooting well and you’re able to set it up for him to finish or bail us out. That’s what carries a team and wins games.”

Curling club manager Shannon Heddon said she heard positive comments from out-of-town people regarding the growth of Meadow Lake and the organization of the facility. She noted people were also impressed by the quality of the ice and the services they were provided.

“Hosting an event like this has enormous benefits,” she said. “It also allows not only our club, but the city to become noticed and that helps with everyone’s revenue.”

The championship also provided a spotlight for the club’s junior curlers. Heddon said the younger curlers had a chance to see the prestige that comes along with participating in the sport and the places they can go if they stay involved.

“It gave them something to look forward to and showed them how competitive curling can be,” she added.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: