Curling Canada | A victory for the territory!

Team Nunavut, from left, Peter Van Strein, Brendon Anderson, Justin McDonnell and Mark Pillsworth earned a victory in the opening game of the 2023 Everest Canadian Curling Championships. (Photo, Curling Canada)

Nunavut men open 2023 Everest Club Championships with win in Winnipeg

Nunavut’s first victory at the 2023 Everest Canadian Curling Championships is more than just a tally in the win column. It’s also a victory for the small volunteer base of the Iqaluit Curling Club, which works hard every year to grow the sport in Nunavut.

The Peter Van Strein team launched one last shot for victory Monday afternoon at the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club in Winnipeg. Van Strein, vice-skip Mark Pillsworth, second Justin McDonnell and lead Brendon Anderson scored three goals in the eighth for a 9-8 win over British Columbia’s Tyler Orme of the Vernon Curling Club.

Trailing by two, Nunavut scored on its last shot in the eighth end to claim victory in the opening game. It was the kind of game with a lot of dynamic changes, starting with Nunavut. After three ends, the team sprinted out of the starting blocks to take a 4-0 lead. However, British Columbia had big runs in the fourth and fifth ends, scoring seven cumulative points to take the lead. In the sixth end, Nunavut drew a pile of rocks to take one and forced British Columbia to draw a point in the seventh to secure the victory in the eighth.

“We kind of surprised ourselves by playing really well in the top three. We probably should have tried to keep the game more open later, so we let them get back into the game to the point where they got the lead on us. That’s all you can ask for in the end; “Try your last shot for victory,” Van Strein said.

This is the first victory for a Nunavut men’s team at the Everest Club Championships since 2019. Now, with one match under their belt and five more to go, these Nunavut curlers would like to pick up a few more victories.

“We come in knowing we are underdogs in almost every game we have, but now with a win under our belt like this, who knows? Just keep playing hard. I liked the way the team pitched today,” Van Strein said. “We lost a few ends, but it was a really good game overall. If we play like that, we can scare other teams. That’s what we can hope for and we know we will face the teams hard.

Iqaluit’s curlers are undoubtedly talented, and the key to Nunavut’s success is consistency and dedication. With the former, Van Strein is the first to admit that they can’t keep giving up big scores or taking ends during games. The latter leads to a larger topic of conversation about the challenges of curling on a Canadian territory and the day-to-day operations of the Iqaluit Curling Club.

By day, the curlers representing Nunavut on the men’s and women’s side of this competition are finance officers, police officers, project managers, doctors and policy analysts. In the evenings, they volunteer at a curling club and work as coaches, ice makers and board members. It’s a small volunteer base that keeps the Iqaluit Curling Club running, bringing new people to try the sport and current curlers on the ice to train for national championships.

“It gives our players something to aim for. “We had to restart our junior program and now hopefully this will be something that they see and realize that playing at a national championship is something they can achieve,” Van Strein said. “If we didn’t have these places at these events, I think it would be difficult to motivate people to play curling and keep the club going. We know people love curling, but these events are the carrot at the end of the stick.

There’s no doubting the dedication of volunteers, but sometimes outside circumstances hamper the curling season at the city-owned Iqaluit Curling Club. In 2021, the city faced a water crisis due to contamination. Local authorities turned the curling club into a headquarters due to lack of water and prevented volunteers from accessing the site to play curling. Although nothing is confirmed, there is ongoing discussion about a television production using the curling club when filming a show highlighting and celebrating life in the North which could end the curling season.

These are projects and operations that Van Strein is grateful the club can contribute to. However, with limited resources and infrastructure in Iqaluit, interruptions to ongoing programs at the curling club may hinder progress in providing consistent leagues and clinics, which will impact member retention.

That makes a win like this all the more important for Van Strein. When club youth can see their Iqaluit club members succeed and compete in national events, it can give them extra motivation to play hard, have fun and win their own national matches in the future.

As of the 4 p.m. Central time draw, the Nunavut men are 1-0 and tied for first place in Group B with Team Manitoba Derek Anderson (Gimli Curling Club) and l Quebec team David Maheux (Mont-Bruno Curling Club). In Pool A, Team Dan Sherrard from Alberta (Beaumont Curlong Club) is alone in the lead with a 2-0 record. Team Nova Scotia’s Shea Steele (Halifax Curling Club) is 1-0 and the only other undefeated team in the pool. The team has a day off this afternoon.

On the women’s side, Team Roselyn Craig from British Columbia (Duncan Curling Club), Team Robyn Despins from Northern Ontario (Fort William Curling Club) and Team Tanya Phillips from Nova Scotia (CFB Halifax Curling Club) are all 1-0. In Pool B, Ontario’s Lindsay Thorne (Rideau Curling Club) is 2-0 and atop the pool. However, Team Allison McMillan from Saskatchewan (Nutana Curling Club) and Team Nanette Dupont from Alberta (Lethbridge Curling Club) are not far behind with a 1-0 record.

Fourteen men’s teams and 14 women’s teams compete this week. The fields are divided into two groups of seven teams. After the round robin, the top three teams from each pool will advance to the modified double-elimination playoffs, which begin on Thursday, November 1. 23, and will conclude with the gold and bronze medal matches on Saturday, November 23. 25.

Live coverage of select games from the 2023 Everest Canadian Curling Club Championships will be available on Curling Canada’s streaming platform, Curling Canada+ as well as him TSN+.

Event scores and leaderboards will be available by CLICKING HERE.

For draw times, team rosters and other event information, CLICK HERE.

Alec Dittman

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