PORT McNEILL—The Cowichan curling squad dispatched Cloverdale in a one-sided final Sunday in the BC/Yukon Command Curling Playdowns at Broughton Curling Club.
But the winners didn’t exactly lord it up, as they’ll now need some assistance from their Peace Arch Legion Chapter rivals prior to the Canadian Dominion championships in March.
Siblings Shannon and Robbie Gallaugher both curled for their father, Duncan-based skip Bob Gallaugher. But the pair now live in the Vancouver area and train at the Richmond club whose directors include members of the runner-up Cloverdale rink.
“The kicker is, I’ve got to go back to those guys and ask for practice ice,” Shannon Gallaugher said after drawing handshakes with an 8-1 lead through seven ends of Sunday’s final. “And Rob (Dennis) is the head chef at the Richmond club. Now it’s like, ‘oh, he’s going to spit in my food.'”
With any luck, Gallaugher will not require the services of a food tester before her family rink travels to represent the BC/Yukon Command in the March 16-21 Royal Canadian Legion curling finals in Bloomfield Station, PEI. It will mark the second appearance for the Cowichan rink, which placed third in the Dominion games in 2010.
Port McNeill’s Legion Branch 281 and volunteers from Broughton Curling Club certainly left an impression on the visitors during their three-day stay.
Friday’s opening ceremonies included a parade of athletes with a full honour guard, red serge-clad RCMP, and a trio of bagpipers from Campbell River. Curlers were welcomed by zone commander Bonnie West and Port McNeill Mayor Gerry Furney before Branch 281 president Grant Anderson opened the games.
Saturday featured a skill competition, followed by a banquet for players, Broughton Curling Club members and their guests that included live music and a silent auction for items donated by local businesses.
“The community support has been outstanding,” said Anderson. “We didn’t get one ‘no’ answer from anybody we talked to about helping out.”
Sunday’s closing ceremony brought back the honour guard and RCMP, and saw both the winners and runners-up from Cloverdale receive medals, small individual trophies, and sets of paintings from local artists Heather Brown and Gordon Henschel.
“It was fantastic,” Shannon Gallaugher said of the weekend. “You could tell the community really prepared for this event. That’s the nice thing about these small communities that you miss living in the city.”
Cowichan’s victory avenged an earlier loss to Cloverdale in the fourth draw, a loss which sent Cowichan into Saturday’s semifinals against unbeaten Ashcroft. But the rink of the three Gallaughers and lead James Turner put away the Ashcroft quartet, then grabbed control early and never let up in Sunday’s final.
After an open first end, Cowichan posted a point in the second with the hammer. It then stole two rocks in the third end and two more in the fourth as Cloverdale, skipped by Doug Bradley, struggled to make key shots.
Bradley and rinkmates Chris Rink, Dennis and Lawrence Layton managed to sneak a single point in the fifth — even that came on a missed shot that worked out accidentally — but Cowichan used a takeout for another point in the sixth and made yet another two-point steal in the seventh as Bradley was unable to pull off a tricky double takeout attempt.
“(Saturday) when we played them, it was a really close game,” Shannon Gallaugher said. “This time it came down to the inches, and we caught all the breaks,” “We could go back out with them right now and they could beat us just as bad.”
Maple Ridge claimed third place in a coin toss over Ashcroft, whose delegation had to depart after Saturday’s semifinals due to a medical emergency in one player’s family.
Port McNeill’s Branch 281 team of Tim Chester, Paul Bastarache, Chris Walker and Scott Mitchell, which was thrown together for the playdowns, did not win a match during the weekend.
2013 BC/Yukon Command Curling Playdowns
At Broughton Curling Club
Draw 1: Cowichan d. Langley; Cloverdale 9, Campbell River 2; Salmon Arm 10, Port McNeill 1; Ashcroft 6, Maple Ridge 3.
Draws 2-3: Maple Ridge d. Port McNeill; Cloverdale d. Langley; Ashcroft d. Salmon Arm; Cowichan d. Campbell River.
Draw 4: Langley d. Campbell River; Ashcroft d. Port McNeill; Cloverdale d. Cowichan; Maple Ridge d. Salmon Arm.
Semifinals: Cloverdale d. Maple Ridge; Cowichan d. Ashcroft.
Final: Cowichan 8, Cloverdale 1.
Skills competiton winners:
Top lead: Christopher Brezina, Ashcroft
Top second: Darren Gerow, Salmon Arm
Top third: Richard Debert, Ashcroft
Top skip: Dave Belway, Salmon Arm