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Northern exposure for Craig in Canadian senior men's curling
In sickness and in health, valley curler Wes Craig and his Victoria teammates gave it their best shots at the Canadian senior men's curling championships in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
"Not as good as we hoped,'' said Craig of his team's eventual 5-6 record in the 12-team competition. "We had the flu bug going around.
"One guy couldn't sweep for a couple of games, things like that.''
Craig, third Blair Cusack, second Tony Anslow and lead Kevin Britt still managed to start strong with a 5-3 record before losing the last three. Four teams were at 5-6, but out of playoff contention.
"The last two (games), I think we were worn out with all the problems we had,'' said Craig.
But there were lots of close games among the 11. "The team that won it beat us by about two inches,'' said Craig.
Nova Scotia's Alan O'Leary topped the field, beating Manitoba's Kelly Robertson 9-8 on a deuce in the 10th end.
"We were in all the games,'' raved Craig. "The only one we lost of the first four, we could easily have won.''
Craig dropped an 8-7 decision to Saskatchewan's Darrell McKee in 11 ends in the opener before rattling off three straight wins — 8-4 over New Brunswick's Mark Armstrong, 11-9 in 11 ends over Alberta's Mark Johnson and 9-7 over Quebec's Denis Laflamme.
A 10-5 loss to Ontario's Peter Mellor sent Craig's team back to earth and an 8-7 defeat against Northern Ontario's Robbie Gordon evened the team's record at 3-3.
Craig bounced back to beat Prince Edward Island's Ted McFadyen 6-5 and Yukon's George Hilderman 10-9 with one in the 10th.
The competition ended with the trio of losses, 8-6 to O'Leary, 10-4 to Robertson and 7-3 to Glen Hudy of the Northwest Territories.
The same rocks as the Brier were used, Craig pointed out.
"They curl a lot more than club rocks. It takes you a while to get used to that, too.''
Overall, Craig enjoyed his first-ever visit to Yellowknife — that amounted to a 10-day stay — on and off the ice. He even got to enjoy a true Northwest Territories experience.
"We went dog-sledding one day,'' he said.