As skips of different teams, Sean Geall and Jeff Richard won their first B.C. men’s curling titles a year apart, in 2009 and 2010.
In 2018, Geall and Richard combined forces to earn their second trip to the Brier.
With Geall calling the shots and Richard playing third, the Kelowna Curling Club foursome knocked off defending champ Jim Cotter and his Vernon-Kelowna rink 9-7 in an extra end in the final of the B.C. men’s curling championship Sunday night in Parksville.
Geall made a spectacular in-off shot with his last rock of the game to score a deuce in the 11th end to claim the provincial title.
“In some ways it’s a bit of a relief to get back to doing this. It feels really good,” said Geall, 43, who grew up in West Kelowna but now lives in Abbotsford. “It’s been awhile and you start to wonder if that time is going to happen again.
“Now I have a small family and can’t commit the time I used to commit, so yeah, this is a big one.”
Geall teamed up with Richard and lead Dave Harper last season, then added second Andrew Nerpin to the mix this season.
Richard is grateful to be getting a second chance to play in the Brier.
“You just never know if or when it’ll happen again,” said Richard, 38. “Sean and I were both hungry to get back there. We put a lot of work and effort into this season and it paid off for us.
“Sean’s a great skip and a great guy, and we’ve become really good friends,” added Richard. “It’s going to be nice to go to a Brier and compete with this group of guys.”
Harper attended his first Brier last year as the fifth-man on the John Morris-Jim Cotter rink. The 2018 Canadian men’s curling championship will be his first ever as a player.
“I’ve been playing a long time, hoping this would happen, so to get that little purple heart feels great,” said Harper, 40, who moved to Kelowna from Edmonton five years ago. “It’s a dream come true. You think there’s plenty of time but then the years start going by and you realize it’s not easy. It’s great to finally get this.”
Nerpin, who had never before been close to winning a provincial title, said all the pieces fell into place at the right time for the Kelowna-based foursome—particularly against the four-time defending champs.
“Sean made the shots when he had to and it worked out well for us,” said Nerpin, who is originally from Ontario. “We definitely had to be lights-out to beat those guys. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Like Harper, Nerpin is excited about experiencing the atmosphere of a Brier for the first time.
“I think the crowds will be amazing, it’s the biggest event you can play in,” Nerpin said. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I started curling. It’s going to be amazing to be a part of it.”
The final game was the only loss of the week for Cotter, third Catlin Schneider and his Kelowna front-end of second Tyrel Griffith and lead Rick Sawatsky.
“I’m proud of the guys,” said Cotter. “We hung in there. Unfortunately, we had some picks in there and that didn’t help, but that’s the way curling goes. It didn’t come down to that. They made a great shot to win. We were getting better each game, but we were a little off that game.”
Geall and his Kelowna rink will represent B.C. at the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier, March 3 to 11 in Regina.