King ices new rink
Talented line-up wins The Shoot-Out bonspiel
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 19, 2012 06:00 am
A new provincial contender entered the ring last weekend and scored a unanimous decision to win The Shoot-Out bonspiel.
The St. Albert-based Jamie King rink – featuring former Brier and world champions Scott Pfeifer and Blake MacDonald and ex-provincial junior champion Jeff Erickson – crushed Charley Thomas of Calgary 8-1 in Sunday’s final at the Saville Community Sports Centre
“It was a great omen to the start of the year. Hopefully we haven’t peaked in September,” King said with a chuckle. “We had expectations that we were hoping to qualify, but to actually win the whole thing was great.”
They are $5,000 richer after finishing their first bonspiel together at 6-1.
“On the last day, other than the one end against Kevin Park [in the quarter-finals] when we got down a little bit, we were never in trouble. We had a lot of pressure on a lot of teams and quite frankly played really good,” King said.
“We knew we had a pretty good team. Obviously we still haven’t played the Kevin Martins and the Kevin Koes of the world, but there were a lot of other good teams there and it gave us a lot of confidence to say that we’re probably one of the better teams in the province right now.”
It was the first major curling event for Pfeifer after the Randy Ferbey foursome called it quits after the 2010 Players’ Championship.
The only time Pfeifer curled in the last two years were funspiels in Beijing, China and Bratislava, Slovakia.
“I’m not nearly as sore as I planned to be so I count that as a minor victory,” said Pfeifer, one of the six original inductees to the St. Albert Curling Club’s wall of fame. “It was a great weekend. We got along really well and that was kind of our mantra going into the year, just to enjoy ourselves. We can still be competitive when we’re on the ice, but above all else enjoy the weekend.”
King threw lead rocks and called the game. Erickson played second, Pfeifer was the third and MacDonald handled skip’s rocks.
The last time Pfeifer – a member of the all-time Alberta all-star team at second in voting conducted in 2005 – was part of a back-end tandem was the late 1990s.
MacDonald was also the last rock thrower for King when they lost the 2003 and 2005 provincial finals to the Ferbey Four.
“We had a rule that if we won a spiel we weren’t going to change the line-up so we’re just going to go to the next one [in Vernon in two weeks] this way and see what happens,” said King, the fifth man for the 2010 Brier and world championship-winning Koe rink with MacDonald as the third.
King was leaning towards spending this winter piloting the Hootie and Old Fish rink in the St. Albert Thursday night men’s league when Pfeifer and MacDonald made inquiries about his availability.
“Blake and Scott were looking to get back into the game and they phoned me up and coaxed me into trying this,” King said. “We were looking for a fourth player and Jeff Erickson, who in relative terms is a younger guy who has won some provincial juniors, was actually looking to get more into the game himself. We thought this would be a good fun team that actually has some talent and if we can catch lightning in a bottle at the right time we can actually win.”
The last time King curled with Pfeifer was an extra-end loss in the provincial junior final in the early 1990s.
MacDonald stepped away from curling scene during the 2010-11 season but hooked up with Koe as the fifth man for the 2012 provincials and Brier.
“It’s somewhat good to be at this stage in our curling careers. It doesn’t take us long to sort of get back in the groove in our deliveries. Within a span of a week and a half practicing we’re able to get up to form right away,” King said.
The 2013 Brier in Edmonton is the big carrot at the end of the stick.
“That would be kind of our main goal this year, but we know it’s a very tough province to come out,” said Pfeifer, the U20 world junior champion in 1994 and bronze medallist in 1997. “We wanted to have a fun team but also have a team that’s reasonably competitive.”
The five-time Alberta champion, four-time Brier winner and three-time world gold medallist with the Ferbey Four, the Alberta Curling Federation’s Team of the Century, enjoyed his time away from the rink.
“Playing for 12 years at the level we did I didn’t miss. I missed certain parts of it but I didn’t miss the grind of the curling schedule. I spent way more time with my family and on the ski hill so I don’t regret that whatsoever,” said Pfeifer, the first curler to earn all-star selections at five Briers, starting with a second-team berth in 2001 before winning four-straight first-team honours.
In their spare time, King, Pfeifer and McDonald will spare for the Hootie and the Old Fish rink of Craig King (Jamie’s dad), Ralph Killips, Brian Pfeifer (Scott’s dad) and Elson Keown – all grandfathers. With Jamie throwing last rocks, the Old Fish won the President’s Cup club championship eight times in 19 years. Their club record six-straight championships ended last spring. They also won the Edmonton and area Tournament of Champions twice in six years, including the 2011 title.
“We’re on call on a rotation basis,” said Jamie, who wasn’t as active with the Olds Fish last winter as in previous seasons. “We need about seven guys to actually field a line-up. These older, retired guys are always on vacation somewhere so we need these younger guys to come in and help out.”