Tim Hortons: 1
Curling clubs: 1
Doug and I made the two-hour drive early Saturday morning. We arrived and checked in to the only hotel in town. The hotel, and the rest of the town for that matter, were overflowing with curlers from all over the region. Eight men's teams and eight women's teams were in town. Each team had won their zone and were in Forest to try their hand at winning the Regional Championships.
Doug's team played their first game at 12:30pm on Saturday. We got there early and I staked my claim on the perfect chair, right in front of the glass, facing sheet four. There was one empty seat beside me and I wondered who would end up being my watching buddy since I was the only 'fan' from the St. Catharines team. As I watched Doug and his team do their warm-up practice routine, a familiar face appeared. Doug's friend John had made the trip to cheer them on. He snatched the seat beside me and we kept each other company during the game - mostly me asking questions and John answering them.
A sign I spotted pinned to the wall that captures the curling world perfectly. While the team plays their heart out on the ice, the folks behind the glass have animated discussions after each shot about what they should have done.
The Forest Curling Club. Quite a nice facility full of history. Established in 1884.
Doug and Larry sweeping their hearts out to drag their red rock past the blue guard.
Doug throwing his first rock in the second end.
Doug holding the broom for the skip. Based on where the broom is, I'm going to guess he's trying for a takeout on that blue rock.
Another action shot.
As I said, the game went back and forth.
For those of you who can't read a curling scoreboard:
Doug's team took one in the first end.
Lost one in the second end.
Took two in the third.
Lost three in the fourth.
Took one in the fifth.
Lost one in the sixth.
Took one in the seventh.
They started the eighth and final end at a disadvantage. The score was 6:5 for the other team and the other team had the hammer. Also known as the last rock.
Doug's team lost.
Their next game was at 8pm and winning had just become a necessity because teams were out as soon as they lost two games.
The second game was one of misfortune, valiant fights and more misfortune. The opponents took a four-point end early in the game. Never a good sign. Doug's team fought back point by point and they were back in competition by the fifth end with a score of 4:3. Unfortunately, the opponents then took another four-point end.
Fighting back from one bad end is possible. Two of them? Not an easy feat.
They lost. And, as quickly as their Regional Championship adventure began, it ended.
It's hard to stand far enough back from a disappointing day of curling to see the amount of talent it took to get to that point. Hopefully, with a bit of distance, the St. Catharines Masters Zone Champions will see the Forest for what it was. A chance to play competitive curling, rub elbows with some talented people, learn a few things, and come back stronger next year.