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BEST RESULT – The two Yukon masters curling teams are introduced at the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Canadian Masters Curling Championships in B.C.

Yukon masters curling take best-ever result

Coming home with the best result ever for the Yukon at the Canadian Masters Curling Championships, the men’s team skipped by George Hilderman proved that the territory’s teams shouldn’t be taken lightly.

By Dustin Cook on April 12, 2018

Coming home with the best result ever for the Yukon at the Canadian Masters Curling Championships, the men’s team skipped by George Hilderman proved that the territory’s teams shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The Yukon men’s team advanced to the championship pool of the 14-team men’s tournament in Cloverdale and White Rock, B.C last week.

“We’re a pretty proud bunch,” four-time masters skip Hilderman said in an interview with the Star. “The first go round in the pool play, we kind of looked at each other and said let’s do what we can and we came out on top with four wins and two losses.”

That was good enough to finish third in the pool and qualify for the second round to take on the top teams from the other side.

“There was some praise for us. The word out there is you don’t take Yukon lightly anymore,” Hilderman said.

The squad of Hilderman, third Darol Stuart, second Clarence Jack and lead Craig Tuton opened the tournament against the host B.C. team and lost a tight one 5-3.

But they quickly rebounded earning wins over Northern Ontario, Quebec and Ontario – to hand the powerful province their only loss in the round robin.

“We were one down playing the eighth end and we got our two points for the win,” Hilderman said of the big victory.

In the playoff round, the team had one win against Saskatchewan 7-6 and dropped a tight final game against the eventual champions from Alberta 7-4.

With a 5-5 record, the Yukon finished fifth overall and just outside one of the four final playoff spots.

Hilderman said the competition was stiff throughout the tournament playing against teams with past Brier and other high-level experience.

The Yukon team did have prior masters experience, but not as a complete foursome.

Hilderman said the team’s lead Tuton was new to the team this year and he had never previously curled with him before.

Jack, the team’s second, competed in his 16th masters championships which Hilderman said was a huge accomplishment for the 79-year-old Yukoner.

“Finally he gets to boast,” Hilderman said of the team’s strong performance.

With one of the best curling results for the Yukon on the national stage, Hilderman said teams were coming up to them following games and saying how much they improved from past competitions.

Heading into the event, Hilderman said the number one aspiration is always to qualify for the playoff round, and this year they made it happen.

“In any tournament we always like to set our standards a little higher than normal. Let’s qualify for the playoff round, and we did that,” he said. “We didn’t really set any goals after that, but said ‘Let’s just keep playing the way we’re playing, quite relaxed, and it seems to be working.’”

Hilderman’s squad was not the only representation at the national event, with the women’s masters 60 and over competition happening at the same place.

But Hilderman said with two different arenas in action throughout the competition, the two Whitehorse Curling Club teams didn’t seem much of each other.

“It seemed like the only time we’d see them was in the early morning going to the rinks,” he said.

The Yukon women’s squad of skip Ellen Johnson, third Ev Pasichnyk, second Valerie Whelan and lead Catherine Dugas, had a tough round robin finishing without a win in the pool play.

They played a very tight game against New Brunswick which they were winning 7-5 heading into the seventh of eight ends.

New Brunswick got one point with the hammer in the seventh to get within one point and stole two in the final end.

But in the four-team seeding pool, the Yukon had another opportunity against the maritime team and got revenge in a tight 6-5 game.

This time tied at five heading into the eighth end and Yukon having the hammer, the team was able to secure a point with the last rock.

They also tallied a victory over Newfoundland and Labrador after powering to a 5-0 lead after three ends.

The Newfoundland squad would tie the game, but with scores of two in each of their last two ends with the hammer, the Yukon won a high-scoring 9-7 affair to finish with a record of 2-6 and finish 10th of 12 teams overall.

With the curling season coming to a close, three other Yukon squads are currently competing on the national and international stage.

At the Canadian Under-18 Girls Curling Championships, the Yukon team consisting of skip Bayly Scoffin, third Karen Smallwood, second Robyn McNeil and lead Alexa Smallwood has faced a tough round robin and currently sitting at 0-5 with one game remaining against Ontario.

Two Yukon teams are competing in the Pacific International Cup that got underway yesterday in B.C.

The Yukon women’s team of Laura Eby, Lorna Spenner, Tamar Vandenburghe, Janine Peters and Laura Williamson opened the tournament with a 9-5 win against Alaska.

They will be playing teams from California and Washington today.

The men’s squad of Tyler Williams, Kevin Yost, Scott Williamson and Bob Walker is currently 2-1 with an opening game loss to Washington followed by wins over Oregon and Alaska.

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