Five in a row?
Potential history in the making at 2022 Everest Canadian Seniors starting Sunday
The 2022 Everest Canadian Senior Curling Championships start Sunday, and once again, the history books can be rewritten after the final rocks are thrown at Mariners Centre and Yarmouth Curling Club in Nova Scotia.
On the women’s side, Saskatchewan’s Team Sherry Anderson can add to its most-championships-won record with a fifth-straight victory at the event. A fifth championship win in a row would further grasp the team’s spot as one of the most extraordinary senior women’s teams in the game’s history.
Anderson, vice-skip Patty Hersikorn, second Brenda Goertzen and lead Anita Silvernagle of the Nutana Curling Club in Saskatoon are two-time world senior women’s champions and will target that unprecedented fifth national championship amongst a tenacious field of women’s teams.
The win would also accomplish another accolade for Saskatchewan. It would break the current tie with Ontario for most senior women’s championships won by a Member Association with 11 titles won.
However, another world senior champion in Anderson’s pool wants to provide the Saskatchewan-based team with a challenge. Alberta’s Diane Foster is the 2008 world senior women’s curling champion. Foster’s team is from a series of curling facilities in and around Calgary: Calgary Curling Club, Calgary Winter Club, Garrison Curling Club (Calgary) and Brooks Curling Club.
Other teams in Pool A include Leanne Andrews and her team from the Langley Curling Centre in British Columbia; Newfoundland and Labrador’s Team Laura Phillips of the RE/MAX Centre – St. John’s Curling Club; 2021 Everest Canadian club champion and PointsBet Invitational competitor Tracey Larocque and her Northern Ontario team from the Fort William Curling Club in Thunder Bay; Sharon Cormier and her Northwest Territories team from the Yellowknife Curling Centre; and Geneva Chislett, who is skipping Nunavut’s Iqaluit Curling Club-based team.
The opposite pool features several contenders and teams with experience driving deep into the playoffs at this event. Ontario’s Jo-Ann Rizzo remains a staple in women’s competition, competing as the fourth rock thrower on Team Kerry Galusha of the Northwest Territories. She leads a team from the Mississauga Golf and Country Club.
Last year, Nova Scotia’s Team Theresa Breen of the Halifax Curling Club earned a bronze medal. This year, the team hopes to improve on that podium finish and reach the gold-medal game in front of fans from its home province.
The remaining teams in the women’s field in Pool B are: Manitoba’s Team Terry Ursel of the Neepawa Curling Club, which is returning to the event for the first time since 2019, where it reached the bronze-medal game; Quebec’s Chantal Osborne, who is leading a team from Thurso, Laval and Roberval; New Brunswick’s Sandy Comeau and her team from Curl Moncton; Laura Eby and her Yukon-based team from the Whitehorse Curling Club; and Shelly Bradley and her team from the Cornwall Curling Club in Prince Edward Island.
With no reigning champion in the men’s field, the gold-medal victory is ripe for the taking, but a team that was one-win shy from winning a title five years ago wants to go one step further in the final.
Ontario’s men’s teams have won two of the past five Canadian Senior Men’s Curling Championships. Howard Rajala of the Rideau Curling Club in Ottawa would like to extend that trend with a victory in Nova Scotia.
Rajala, vice-skip Rich Moffatt, second Chris Fulton and lead Paul Madden earned silver at the 2017 senior men’s event in Fredericton. The team’s experience goes beyond competitive senior curling; the unit also represented Ontario at the 1999 Brier in Edmonton (Moffatt at skip and Rajala as vice-skip). Alternate Phil Daniel rounds out the team’s lineup.
Ontario is in the men’s Pool A, along with another set of players with lofty expectations.
Quebec’s François Roberge is back at the Everest seniors for the third-straight event. He achieved a new personal best at the event in 2021, reaching the bronze-medal game but losing. Roberge, representing the Club de curling Etchemin in Lévis, won the 2006 Brier and silver at the ensuing world men’s championship as third for Jean-Michel Ménard. This year, Roberge has recruited the second from that all-star team in Éric Sylvain at second.
The star-studded Pool A continues to impress with the inclusion of Northern Ontario’s team from the Fort William Curling Club in Thunder Bay, skipped by two-time Brier and two-time world men’s champion Al Hackner. The Iceman won the 2006 Canadian seniors and claimed silver at the 2007 world senior men’s event. Hackner will enter the event in winning spirits after most recently winning the 2022 Canadian Masters Curling Championship at Winnipeg under two weeks ago.
Other teams in Pool A include: British Columbia’s Team Wes Craig of the Nanaimo Curling Club, Nova Scotia’s Team Glen MacLeod of the Nova Scotia Curling Association, Yukon’s Team Terry Miller of the Whitehorse Curling Club and Nunavut’s Team Peter Mackey of the Iqaluit Curling Club.
Alberta, as a Member Association, is defending its title on the men’s side, and the task falls upon the shoulder of James Pahl and his team from the Sherwood Park Curling Club. Pahl earned a bronze medal at the 1995 Brier playing second for Kevin Martin. It is his first appearance at the Everest Canadian Senior Curling Championships.
Manitoba’s Team Randy Neufeld is back at the event. While the team’s last appearance in 2021 did not go according to plan – the team from the La Salle Curling Club missed the playoffs – Neufeld hopes to strike magic and reclaim the results of 2015 when the team won the gold-medal game and then earned silver in 2016.
Perennial playoff contender Team Terry Odishaw of New Brunswick is also in Pool B. Odishaw won bronze at the Canadian seniors in 2017. In his two appearances at the event since his team has been one win shy of qualifying for the playoffs.
The remaining teams in Pool B are: Saskatchewan’s Team Randy Bryden of the Caledonian Curling Club in Regina; Team Keith Ryan of the Carol Curling Club in Labrador City in Newfoundland & Labrador; Prince Edward Island’s Team Philip Gorveatt of the Montague Curling Club; and Team Glen Hudy of the Yellowknife Curling Centre in Northwest Territories.
Fourteen men’s and 14 women’s teams (representing the 10 provinces plus Northern Ontario, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon) will compete and have been seeded into two pools per gender, playing a round robin within their pool through Wednesday.
The top four in each pool then advance to the Championship Pool for crossover games against teams from the other pool, while the remaining teams go to the Seeding Pool.
After the Championship Pool on Friday, Dec. 9, the playoffs will start Saturday, Dec. 10, at 8:30 a.m. (all times Atlantic) with the semifinals, pairing the first-seeded team against the fourth-seeded team and the second- and third-ranked teams in the second semifinal.
The winners advance to their respective gold-medal final, while the losers will play for bronze. The men’s medal games will be at 12:30 p.m. and the women’s medal games commence at 3:30 p.m.
Host province Nova Scotia has won only one Canadian senior men’s title courtesy of Alan O’Leary in 2014. On the women’s side, Nova Scotia’s senior women’s team is attempting to earn a sixth title. Nova Scotia’s women won the Canadian seniors in 1982 and 1987 by Team Verda Kempton, in 2009 and 2013 by Team Colleen Pinkney and in 2016 by Team Colleen Jones.
The Canadian Senior Men’s Championship began in 1965 at Port Arthur, Ont. Since then, Manitoba and Ontario have won a leading 12 titles, and Alberta is next with 10.
The Canadian Senior Women’s Championship began in 1973 at Ottawa. Ontario and Saskatchewan have won a leading 10 crowns, followed by British Columbia with eight.
The championships were conducted separately and were combined in 1985 at Yorkton, Sask.
This year’s winners will represent Canada at the 2023 World Senior Curling Championships from April 22-29 in Gangneung, South Korea.