Winning a provincial championship is difficult.
Imagine doing it twice in a row.
That’s what a curling team with members from Cranbrook and the surrounding region did last week, repeating as Masters champions at a tournament in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.
The team, featuring Gerry Kent and Peter Sweetman of Cranbrook, along with Ralph Will of Fernie and Laddie Pavlis of Creston, played a near perfect round-robin and came out on top of a wild final to win the gold.
With the crown of provincial champion, that means the foursome will represent B.C. at the upcoming Canadian Masters Curling Championship in Whitehorse at the end of March.
“Well it’s all great,” said Kent. “It was a strong field and I felt that pretty well every team there could’ve won it, so we felt fortunate to come out on top.”
Kicking off the round-robin, the team took the first two games at scores of 5-2 over Team Danderfer and 9-2 over Team Saboe.
The third game was the only real hiccup of the tournament, as the Kootenay team lost 7-1 to Team Rampton.
The pivotal day came on Thursday, March 5, when the team beat what Kent called the ‘two best teams’ of the affair.
“The key day was when we played Ken Watson and Doug Marshall. I felt like they were our main competition,” Kent said. “In the game against Watson, we were three down after five ends, but we fought back and scored three in the sixth and stole one in the seventh and stole the eighth, so that was a big win.
“Then we were able to beat Doug Marshall that day as well.”
The team wrapped up round-robin with a pair of wins over Team Burbee at 7-1 and Team Feltham at 7-4.
Their 6-1 round-robin record gave them an automatic berth into the tournament final—a rematch against the Marshall rink.
“That was quite a see-saw battle,” said Kent. “It’s really rare where you see the lead change hands so often in a curling game, but in that game, the lead changed hands five times and fortunately we were on the favourable end of the last lead change.”
Marshall took an early one-point lead after the first end, but the Will rink scored a double in the second end. Marshall doubled in the fourth and sixth end, while the Will team responded with two points in the fifth.
Heading into the final end with a one-point deficit, the Will team scored a triple for a final score of 7-5.
“It feels good to repeat as B.C. champions and really enjoy curling with the guys I’m curling with and we’re looking forward to competing in Whitehorse,” said Kent.
The next step will be the national championship from March 29-April 5, where the team will vie for the Canadian Masters title.
They participated in the same tournament last year after winning provincials, advancing to the semifinals before losing to Saskatchewan. That dropped them down into the bronze medal game where they fell to Ontario.
“I’m hoping we can get into the playoffs again, but I’m sure there’ll be a lot of good teams there, so it’ll be tough,” added Kent.