A perfect mix of Castlegar and Trail curlers teamed up to win the Kootenay senior men’s curling provincial qualifier in Creston on the weekend.
Super League curler and skip Bill van Yzerloo of Castlegar, along with third Brian Lemoel and second Richard Faunt of Trail, and lead Alex Coutts of Castlegar, went undefeated in the Kootenay playdowns to earn a berth to the provincials in Trail next month.
“We had tough games, all three, and there’s always a little bit of luck involved when you win,” said Faunt.
Team Van Yzerloo was one of eight rinks competing in the Kootenay qualifier that included formidable opponents in last year’s winner, the Myron Nichol rink, as well as the Deane Horning foursome and Team Tom Buchy from Kimberley.
Both van Yzerloo and Faunt were part of the Nichol rink that won the 2018 Kootenay playdowns in Grand Forks, then played in the provincials in Duncan where the team finished fifth with a 3-6 record. But the duo came back in 2019 with van Yzerloo calling the game and Faunt sliding into the second position, with Super League curlers Lemoel and Coutts rounding out the foursome.
The strategy worked, as van Yzerloo went through the playdowns undefeated, beginning with a close 5-4 victory over Fruitvale’s John Harper rink.
Team van Yzerloo then faced Buchy, a four-time BC mixed-curling champion, in their second match. Regardless, the Castlegar-Trail team made it look easy, breaking open a 3-3 game with a deuce in four and steals in the sixth and seventh ends on their way to a 7-3 win.
Van Yzerloo then faced Horning, the only other undefeated team, in the A-qualifier. Horning, a three-time B.C. Men’s champion, beat Trail’s Ken Fines rink 5-3 in Draw 1 and the Nichol Team 7-2 in Draw 2, and kept that momentum going in the qualifier.
Horning led 4-2 after five, but a huge sixth end proved the turning point as van Yzerloo scored two to tie the game.
“I remember when we were two down playing in the sixth, and it wasn’t looking that great,” said Faunt. “I said to both Brian and Alex that we can do this, we have the talent, let’s just keep plugging away.”
Horning then blanked the seventh to retain hammer heading into the final end. Van Yzerloo was in steal mode, and tapped back his final rock for shot, but left 1/3 of the rock exposed – too tantalizing for Horning to ignore.
“The very last rock, Bill came down and bumped it up a foot, and it might have over-curled a bit so it hung out, and instead of running the double, which would have been tough too, he (Horning) tried to play the pick and it moved back on him.”
Half-way down the sheet the Horning rock lost the line and sailed wide; a van Yzerloo steal made the final 5-4 for the berth to the provincials, while Horning had to face Buchy in the ‘B’ qualifier.
Horning, still rattled by the miss, gave up four to Buchy in the sixth to trail 6-3. The Castlegar curler fought back but came up short in a 7-6 loss.
Buchy’s team, made up of third Rob Ferguson from Trail, second Dave Toffolo, and lead Darren Will, joins the van Yzerloo rink in the B.C. Senior Men’s championship.
For Faunt, a little luck at the right time certainly helped, but the key to the team’s win was its consistency and making the shots when it mattered most.
“Our skip was our rock. He (van Yzerloo) played fantastic every game. We all did pretty good, but every big shot we needed, he made it when he had to.”
The senior women’s playdown saw four teams compete for two spots, and Super League curler Heather Nichol of Castlegar skipped her team to the provincials with wins over Creston’s Laurie Heald rink 10-9 and Janice Tebulte’s Beaver Valley rink 8-2, while Joy Romeo of Cranbrook beat out Tebulte 10-5 for the second spot.
The BC Senior Curling Championships goes in Trail at the Trail Curling Club from Feb. 19-24.