A men’s team of curlers from Terrace and Kitimat earned second place at the 89th annual Kelly Cup in Prince George on March 31 to April 3.
It is a tournament with a much higher level of competition than others in the north, with 34 teams from across the province including New West Minister, Kelowna, Williams Lake, Quesnel, Prince George, Fort St. James, Terrace, Fort St. John, Terrace, Prince Rupert, Kitimat and Smithers.
“I call it the Super Bowl of curling in northwest B.C.” said John Evans, the third on the silver-winning Evans team.
Others on the team were lead Jordan Johnson and second Kevin Doddridge from Terrace, as well as skip Greg Morgan from Kitimat.
Evans said it was a throw-together team who had never curled together before, but they gelled really well.
“All of us have been curling for many years, basically all of us starting as kids so… there is a lot of experience on the team,” Evans said. “We all got along well, which is really important when you are curling. We all played really well. We didn’t make every shot but we never expect to make every shot,” he said.
Evans said the competition at the tournament was very tough.
“We had some great games and many of our games went down to the last rock, where it’s a do-or-die — if we make our last shot we carry on, if we don’t we’re out,” he said.
The Evans went undefeated in the qualifying draw, winning three games to qualify their advance into the Kelly Cup Championship along with seven other teams.
They lost their next game to Smale, a Kelowna-Prince George team, who they later faced in the finals.
That put them third in the A-event, and they went on to win the next two games to advance into the semi-finals.
It was a close game, down to the final rock, against Dahms, a team with two former Terrace residents, Michael Dahms and Matthew Gyfori, and two Prince George curlers.
Evans said the score was tied 6-6 on his final shot, and the Dahms had two rocks out, a guard in front and one in the house (rings).
“While [their rock] was partially behind cover, it wasn’t completely,” said Evans. “I was able to just see enough of it to chip it out.”
The 7-6 win put them in the finals against Smale again (Kelowna – Prince George team), which again went down to the final rock.
Evans said they were down 6-2 in the eighth end (out of ten), but made a hit and roll — knocking out an opponent rock and staying in the house — to earn three points.
In the ninth end, they were able to steal one when the opposing skip tried a double knockout, which did not go as planned and left one rock in the house.
Tied up for the final end, Evans said the ice stayed mostly clear early on.
“We were throwing up guards and they were clearing them, we didn’t really have much of an opportunity to get in behind cover,” he said, referring to a play of getting one rock in front of another to guard it from being knocked out.
On his final rock, Evans said he made a corner freeze, knocking out an opponent rock on the wings and landing his rock in the corner of the house.
The play forced the Dahms to make a precise final shot to knock Evans out, which they did.
“They were right on the money,” Evans said. “The opposing team played very strongly… they did what they had to do for the win, and we did the best we could to take that away from them.
“At the end of the day, we were very pleased with our second place finish out of 34 teams, we felt that it was a great accomplishment,” he said.
The silver win, however, wet Evans’ appetite for a future gold.
“I think we’re going to take this same team back next year and see if we can win it all,” he said.
Citing the merits of the nearly four-foot-tall Kelly Cup, Evans said his years are running out to win the trophy.
“I want my name on that cup one day… and I have to do it soon,” he said.