Old Fish hook 10th title
Craig King's rink, also known as Hootie and the Old Fish, celebrated its 10th President's Cup in the team's 22-year history at the St. Albert Curling Club
Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 06:00 am
No Hootie, no problem for the Old Fish in winning a record 10th President’s Cup in the team’s 22-year history at the St. Albert Curling Club.
With last-rock thrower Jamie King, also known as Hootie, at worlds in Beijing as the alternate for the Team Canada rink skipped by Kevin Koe, the Old Fish – 65-year-old Craig King, who threw third rocks and held the broom, 67-year-old Ralph Killips at second and 64-year-old Brian Pfeifer at lead – reeled in former Brier and world champion Scott Pfeifer to assume Jamie’s top gun role in Wednesday’s A-B final.
And with the precision of a surgeon, the younger Pfeifer and the Old Fish carved up the Monday night Dream Team lineup of skip Doug McLennan, third Buddy Beley, second Dave Klatchuk and lead Mike Howes 7-3 in seven ends.
The playoff rout guaranteed the Old Fish a berth at the 51st annual Edmonton and area Tournament of Champions, April 7 to 17 at the Saville Community Sports Centre, and a spot at the 2015 Dominion Curling Club northern playdowns.
“We’re lucky we can bring in a superstar like Scott,” said King, Jamie’s dad. “We were trying hard to win with Jamie away at worlds so when he comes back in April he can play in the cities.”
Visit www.stalbertgazette.com to view the President’s Cup team picture.
Last year with Jamie, a fixture at the Boston Pizza Cup provincials over the years with a variety of teams, at the controls the Old Fish celebrated their third championship at cities and the first since 2011.
“There are lots of good teams at that level so you have to play well,” King said. “We’re optimistic that we might be able to squeak out another one.”
Jamie is expected to rejoin the Old Fish on April 9.
Pfeifer, 37, is only available for spot duty and the older Pfeifer is holidaying in England.
Blake MacDonald, another Brier and world champion who is part of a deep pool of Old Fish reserves, is unavailable after breaking a wrist skiing.
The Old Fish will lean heavily on super sub Elson Keown, 71, to help fill the void.
“We’re going to zig and zag like we normally do,” King said. “This year we were lucky. We had eight or nine guys playing and there were times when the young guys like Jamie and Scott played and there were a few times when the old guys managed to eek out a win by ourselves.”
Pfeifer also filled in for Jamie in the opening draw of the club playoffs when the 40-year-old had Brier commitments with Koe’s provincial championship team.
Pfeifer joked that Jamie may have to play his way back onto the Old Fish next season after the most decorated men’s rink in St. Albert history at the club level pulled off one of the largest President’s Cup margin of victory in recent years.
The McLennan rink took the loss to heart while drowning their sorrows in the club’s Friendly Giant Lounge.
At another table the Old Fish were tossing back the suds like rock stars.
“It’s always nice to win, especially the older you get the more you realize that you might never get back here again,” said King of the team’s second President’s Cup in a row and the eighth in nine years during a run of greatness that started with the first club championship in 1996.
The Old Fish finessed their way to victory while the back end of the McLennan foursome struggled to match their opponent’s superb shot-making skills.
The teams swapped singles to kick off the final as Pfeifer and McLennan come up clutch with the hammer.
In three the Old Fish scored one and in four McLennan let a big end slip away and settled for two instead.
The Old Fish matched that deuce in five and then sealed the deal with a steal of one in six and two in seven before the teams shook hands.
“They actually had us in trouble early. Doug had a shot for three in four and the rock ran a little tight and he hit and rolled out so we got a bit of a break there,” King said of the deuce that McLennan counted.
“We got one miss in five so we got our deuce back and it was the same thing in sixth: Doug had a shot on the outside, a hit and roll in, but hit and stayed so we ended up stealing one.
“In last end we had a bunch of rocks in the way and he didn't have much of a chance to get in there unless he made a really good shot for one.”
The Old Fish also beat McLennan in the A final. They finished 4-0 in the playoffs and McLennan was 3-2.
The Old Fish were back on the ice Friday at the Dominion northerns against Dick Homenick of Strathcona, but the score from the Ottewell was unavailable at press time.
Three qualifiers from the 26-rink competition advance to the Dominion provincials in October at the Edmonton Garrison Curling Club.
The Old Fish have recruited a familiar Thursday night foe in Gary Hoekstra to help out with the team’s short-staffed roster at Dominions.
“The old guys are going to do our best and try hard,” said King, noting Wednesday’s final was Killips’ seventh game in three days after curling in a 60-plus veterans’ bonspiel in Edmonton.
Visit www.northernalbertacurling.com for draw times and results.