Ellerslie Curling Club – When opportunity knocked, Dale Briske opened the door for a city championship.
Briske entered the winner’s circle at the 54th annual Edmonton and area Tournament of Champions with a convincing 8-2 triumph over Dan Sherrard of the Crestwood in Wednesday’s final.
“It means a lot because this is our first time that we’ve won the cities. We’ve been so close a couple of times and just never made it so it was a really satisfying win,” said Briske, a semifinalist in his last two trips to cities as the President’s Cup playoff winner at the St. Albert Curling Club.
Briske, third Les Ferguson, second Rick Dallyn and lead Grant Cook competed in their second cities in three years and six years ago Briske, Ferguson and Dallyn were joined by Doug deBruijn.
“It’s a really good bunch of guys,” Briske said.
Visit www.stalbertgazette.com to view the team picture.
Jamie King, a three-time city champion with Hootie and the Old Fish of St. Albert curling lore, filled in for the vacationing Ferguson in the team’s last three games at cities.
“It was really great to have Jamie come and spare for us. We appreciate it,” Briske said of the 2003 and 2005 provincial men’s finalist, 11-time President’s Cup playoff champion and the alternate for Kevin Koe’s 2010 Brier and world championship rink and 2014 Brier winning team.
“It’s good to have friends in high places as they say.”
Briske joins King (2013, 2011, 2006), Dan Holowaychuk (1989), Jim Lait (1983) Gerry Dux (1980) and Roger Comeau (1973) on the St. Albert honour role as city men’s champions.
“As a skip this is my best accomplishment for sure,” Briske said.
The 12-team cities featured the 2017 metro Edmonton club champions and Briske swept the competition with five wins after going 4-0 in the St. Albert playoffs with the Tuesday league rink.
“We should go buy a lottery ticket. Maybe the planets are aligning,” Briske said of the team’s undefeated post-season run of greatness. “We had no close calls here except this last game but even then we would’ve prevailed.”
Two of the victories, including Tuesday’s semifinal, were quick handshakes against Jasper Place.
The Avonair and Shamrock were also swept aside by the Briske foursome.
“We managed to handle every game in usually by five or six ends so we were lucky,” Briske said.
The final against Sherrard was headed to an early handshake with Briske leading 5-0 after three ends before the Canadian Dominion (now Travelers) club champion in 2012 and 2013 counted a deuce in four.
“We got that nice early lead but they kept coming up,” said Briske, who seized control of the match with a steal of two in three. “We had to keep beating them down because they could at any moment pop a two or three on us. They’re a very good team.
“We also managed to get our draw weight down right away and that saved us in the first end (for a two-ender) and it saved us again in another end when we had to draw in against a couple.”
In the fifth end, Briske had five rocks in the house at one point while Sherrard had a couple slotted in front of the rings. A few shots later, Briske was looking at two counters before delivering a clutch draw for one to lead by four.
Briske would then steal singles in six and seven before Sherrard pulled the plug.
“We were up by three in that fifth end but they had two behind cover and I had to draw latterly to the button. If I hadn’t made that shot we would’ve probably been one up instead of three up so that made a huge difference. That was the turning point for sure,” Briske said.