Following an intense weekend of curling, a team of Hay River firefighters returned home as the runner-ups following the Northwest Territories firefighter curling play downs in Fort Simpson Feb. 12-14.
The team of Wyatt Scheller, Kyle Wright, Doreen Scheller and Darryl Buhler rode a record of four wins and one loss to a second place finish in the tournament. The only blemish on the team’s record was a tournament-opening 12-11 loss to the eventual champions – the Fort Simpson rink of Roger Pilling, Brian Jaffray, Brian Harold and Dave Magarey.
“We had our troubles,” Scheller said Thursday. “Just like every other game, the first game is always the one you want to win.”
The team bunkered down following the loss, winning their remaining four games over teams from Inuvik, Fort Smith, Yellowknife and a second team from Fort Simpson. Scheller said the two Fort Simpson teams were tough to play against, as well as the Steve Moss rink from Yellowknife.
As the tournament drew to a close, Pilling informed Scheller that he would be unable to send a team to the 51st Canadian Firefighters Curling Championships, which will be held March 25 to April 3 in Regina, Saskatchewan. As the runners up, Scheller’s rink was selected to represent the NWT.
He is currently scrambling to fill his roster for the championships as Wright will be unavailable to play due to previous commitments and Buhler is still undecided if he will attend.
“It takes a lot of money to go,” Scheller admitted. “It costs about $10,000 to send a team there for 10 days for airfare and hotel rooms. I can see where they’re all coming from.”
One possible replacement is Moss, who skipped Team NWT to the national firefighters championship title two years ago. He was in Whitehorse, Yukon last week competing in the Yukon-Northwest Territories Senior Championships and his participation would depend on his placing. He has also represented the NWT at the Brier.
“He’s got a lot of knowledge,” Scheller said. “It’ll be good.”
Scheller said he has until the end of the month to set his roster. Whatever the makeup of the team, Scheller said there won’t be as much pressure this year as there was last year, when his team attended the nationals in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island as defending champions.
“It’s going to be way easier,” he said. “Once I get a team there we’ll go and represent the territories as best we can. It’d be nice to be in the top six or top five, but it’s getting more and more competitive down south.”