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Merchants' bonspiel final a nailbiter
Pilling rink takes top spot in Fort Simpson's largest curling event

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 10, 2011

LIIDLII KUE/FORT SIMPSON - The crowd in the curling lounge pounded the glass windows in appreciation of the shot that drew the Fort Simpson Merchants' Mixed Bonspiel to a close.

NNSL photo/graphic

The team of Roger Pilling, left, Val Gendron, Terry Jaffray and Brian Jaffray won the Fort Simpson Merchants' Mixed Bonspiel in a close game against a team led by Dave Fiebelkorn.

The finals in the A division of the bonspiel pitted Roger Pilling, Val Gendron, Terry Jaffray and Brian Jaffray against Dave Fiebelkorn, Kirby Groat, Chris Kingsbury and Sherri Thomson. Both teams were undefeated going into the game.

Things, however, did not look good for Team Pilling early in the finals. Team Fiebelkorn took two in the first end and then stole one in both the third and fourth ends bringing the score to 4-0.

In fourth end, the halfway mark of the game, Pilling's rink staged a comeback scoring three. Building on the momentum, Piling's rink followed by stealing three in the fifth and scoring two in the sixth to pull ahead 8 to 4. Not willing to lay down, Team Fiebelkorn took two in the seventh to narrow the margin to a manageable two point difference.

The players on both teams were making their shots in the eighth end until skip Roger Pilling lost a shot allowing Fiebelkorn to put a guard up for the two rocks his team had closest to the button. If left alone the rock placement would have tied the game and forced it into an extra end.

Pilling said he knew he just had to angle in and move one rock in order to win the game. As Pilling watched his final rock glide down the ice, however, he wasn't confident in the outcome.

"I thought I was going to miss," he said.

The rock, however, curled just enough to make the minimum amount of contact necessary to move both rocks and leaving his closest to the button. The spectators raised their voices in appreciation as the game ended 9-6.

Pilling's shot was incredible, said Fiebelkorn. Fiebelkorn said his team made it to the finals by communicating well on the weight of the rocks and knowing each other's strengths and weaknesses.

"It was great. It was tiring," he said about the weekend.

The start of the bonspiel was delayed by a day due to warm weather that left a sheen of water on the ice sheets. The games finally began at 8 a.m. on Saturday and some teams didn't finish the round robin until 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

The round robin was a new feature at the tournament, which was made possible due to the lower than normal attendance, said Pilling, one of the organizers. Only nine teams, instead of the regular 12 to 16 teams participated. The new format, however, meant that every team played at least four games.

Overall the tournament went well, Pilling said.

Third place in the A division went to P.R. Contracting, a team composed of Pat Rowe, Laurie Ozmun, Perry Rowe and Jackie Demers. A second success story came in the B Division where Team Jaffray composed of Byron Blyth, Caitlin Jaffray, Tyler Pilling and Geoff Koots finished first.

The team lost all three of its games in the round robin before winning 7-6 against KWB Consulting in the semi-finals. The team went on to win 6-0 against the team of Michael Rowe, Sheldon Brown, Lee Scobie and Shane Thompson in the B finals.

"Overall we just learned," said Blyth to explain the reversal of fortunes.

"We got better quickly."

Blyth said the team made a lot of draws and had great sweeping technique.

"It was pretty awesome," he said about winning the division.

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