A group of seasoned curlers from St. Albert won the 2023 Canadian Masters Curling Championships, held in Saint John, New Brunswick, over the weekend. The team, led by skip Wade White, along with Doug McLennan, Danny Holowachuk, and George Parsons, had an impressive showing at this year's event, ultimately defeating Northern Ontario 3-2 in the gold medal game.
The St. Albert squad, no strangers to gold, won the provincial senior championship in 2013. White and Holowachuk hold two senior men's world championships titles, while Parsons and McLennan claimed another Alberta seniors title in 2015, together with Glen Hansen and Don Bartlett. To earn their spot at the 2023 nationals, the crew overcame strong competition in the provincial playdowns, including a challenging matchup against Scott Egger's southern Alberta team.
The Canadian Masters Curling Championships is a highly competitive event that often showcases former Brier and World champions, like Al Hackner from Northern Ontario, who won the tournament in 2022. Despite the stiff competition, the St. Albert team persevered, finishing second in their pool with a 6-1 record.
"The championship pool featured the top four teams from both pools in a crossover format. We came out of that pool 3-1, which was good enough for third place in the final four. Then we beat Manitoba in the semi-final," said McLennan.
While the St. Albert team's victory is a testament to their individual skill and teamwork, it is also a reflection of the thriving curling community in Alberta. The province has consistently produced top-tier talent, and the St. Albert team's success at the Canadian Masters Curling Championships further solidifies Alberta's reputation as a curling powerhouse.
The team's most challenging games were against Manitoba, according to McLennan. "We had a number of close games, but the two games against Manitoba were probably our best; we lost the first one, but then we got even with them in the semis," he told The Gazette with a chuckle.
Despite the pressure, the St. Albert team maintained their on-ice chemistry, which was crucial to their success. McLennan said.
"We've played together on a number of occasions, so this is nothing new. My job as third is to keep the wheels on when things get rough. Mission accomplished."
The event was well-received by participants, who appreciated the organization and hospitality. McLennan praised the experience, saying, "The event was extremely well organized. That east coast hospitality is unmatched. I can’t say enough about the quality of the individuals attending this event from across the country. We all made some new friends, and we also got reacquainted with some old friends."
As for the future, McLennan announced that this would be his final competitive event, as he plans to spend winters in Mexico. The other team members' plans remain uncertain. Regardless of what lies ahead, their victory at the 2023 Canadian Masters Curling Championships will endure as a testament to the group’s teamwork and abiding commitment to the sport to which they have happily devoted decades.