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King's rink rocks provincials

St. Albert Curling Club foursome goes 3-3 at Boston Pizza Cup

By: Jeff Hansen

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 13, 2013 06:00 am

ICEMAN - Scott Pfeifer slides down the ice after throwing a rock for the Jamie King foursome at the Boston Pizza Cup at the Leduc Recreation Centre. The St. Albert Curling Club rink finished 3-3 in the 12-team draw.
ICEMAN - Scott Pfeifer slides down the ice after throwing a rock for the Jamie King foursome at the Boston Pizza Cup at the Leduc Recreation Centre. The St. Albert Curling Club rink finished 3-3 in the 12-team draw.
APRIL BARTLETT/St. Albert Gazette

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Leduc – The Jamie King rink rocked the house against the teams to beat at the Boston Pizza Cup provincial men’s championship.

The St. Albert Curling Club foursome of King, Blake MacDonald, Scott Pfeifer and Jeff Erickson took Kevin Martin to an extra end in the A semifinals and made Kevin Koe draw for the winning point in the 10th end in the C finals at the Leduc Recreation Centre.

“Quite frankly we were one shot away in both of those games in beating those teams and they are two of the best in the world so I'm extremely proud of the way the guys played,” said King, who threw lead rocks and called the game for the number three seeds in the 12-team draw. “Considering we don’t play nearly as much as what those teams do we definitely showed that we still have the ability and the talent to stay with those teams.”

Provincials was only the fifth major event of the season for the experienced and dangerous line-up of King (alternate for Koe’s 2010 Brier and world championship team), MacDonald (competed at the 1999 Brier on the Ken Hunka team; last-rock thrower for King in the 2003 and 2005 Alberta finals against the Ferbey Four; Brier and world champion with Koe; alternate for Koe at last year’s Brier), Pfeifer (five-time Alberta champion, four-time Brier winner and three-time world champion with the Ferbey Four; five-time Brier all-star record holder for seconds, including four-straight first team selections; U20 world gold medallist in 1994 and bronze medallist in 1997) and Erickson (two-time U20 Alberta champion).

On the World Curling Tour they won the Shoot-Out bonspiel in September at the Saville Sports Centre and were finalists in Vernon, Kamloops and Wainwright.

The last WCT game before provincials was Nov. 19, a 4-3 loss to Mark Johnson’s Seattle rink in the Wainwright final.

They also made a Jan. 17 guest appearance in the St. Albert Thursday night men’s league filling in for the Hootie and the Old Fish rink that King guided to eight club championships in 19 years.

At provincials King and his men finished 3-3 in their quest to become the first St. Albert team to represent Alberta at the Brier since Hec Gervais in 1974 and Tom Reed in 1975.

“There are a lot of guys out there that still know what we’re capable of doing. They gave us a third-place ranking going into (provincials) so from a curler’s perspective we probably didn’t surprise anybody that way, but from a fans or a sport perspective, maybe we did considering that we haven’t really been on the radar too much this year,” King said of his teammates, who decided to play for fun in their first season together. “But overall I would say it was still a bit of a surprise to see us have two close games with both the Martin and Koe teams anyways.”

The King quartet kicked off provincials with a 7-4 win in nine ends against Charley Thomas of the Calgary Curling Club in a game that they never trailed.

Lead slips away

In the next game against Martin, King stole singles in the second and fifth ends to lead 4-1 at the break. The 2010 Olympic gold medallists rallied with the only deuces of the contest in six and eight to knot it at five. King counted one in nine and Martin scored the equalizer in 10 and stole the winning point in the 11th to escape with a 7-6 decision despite being out-played.

“Kevin made a great shot in 10 just to put it to the extra end and then he made a great shot with his last one in the extra end and Blake just missed, otherwise we probably would’ve beat him,” King said.

The loss to Martin, the eventual Alberta champions, stung worse than bowing out to Koe in the C finals.

“Anytime you go into the extra end with the hammer you expect to win,” King said. “We had them on the ropes. We had them down 4-1 at the fifth end break and we kind of eased off the gas pedal a bit and we shouldn’t have. They're a good team and you know they’re going to score points and come back.

“If we would’ve won that game it would’ve put us in the A final and it would’ve set us up really good for the rest of the week, so that one was probably the tougher one to lose, especially at the end of the week when you see those guys winning and knowing that you had a chance to actually beat them. It could’ve dramatically changed how whole week turned out for everybody.”

In the B bracket King posted an easy 9-4 win in six ends against Wade White, with Dan Holowaychuk of St. Albert playing second for the Saville rink, before falling 9-7 to Thomas in the semifinals. Thomas stole two in the first end en route to a 5-3 lead before King answered with three in six. A deuce in seven and a steal of one in eight gave the young Thomas rink the upper hand.

Comeback charge

King recovered from the loss to thump Kurt Balderston of Sexsmith 8-3 in eight ends for a date with Koe in the C final. King got off to a rocky start as Koe scored a deuce with the hammer in the first end and then stole two more in two. King rebounded with one in three and a steal of one in four before Koe tacked up a deuce in five.

King's rink buckled down the rest of the way to close ground on the front-runners, culminating with a three-ender in nine to tie it up. In the 10th end, Koe pulled off a Hail Mary triple-takeout with his first shot and with last rock drew to the four foot for the 8-7 win.

“His first shot in the 10th end was one of the best shots I’ve ever seen. If he doesn’t make that one we would probably win,” King said. “One of the rocks Blake had turned out to be actually be a little bit faster and a little bit straighter and unfortunately we didn’t pick that up until after the first two ends. It probably cost us the first four points because Blake threw some not too bad stones there and didn’t get the results that we thought they would’ve so we changed that up.”

Give the King rink props for going the distance against the No. 1 rink on the WCT money list with $100,200.

“We’re a pretty good grinding team. Throughout the course of the whole year we didn’t lose too many games and the only game we lost this year on the tour spiel that didn’t go down to last rock was against Jim Cotter from B.C. in the Vernon final (7-3 in seven ends) where we got beat pretty good but other than that we were in every single game even when we lost so we knew we had the ability to come back and making it close anyways.”


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