North

Team Peter Mackey wins Nunavut curling championship, punches ticket to Brier

Peter Mackey's team captured the Nunavut men's curling championship on Sunday, beating Wade Kingdon's team 10-6 in a winner-take-all game at the Iqaluit Curing Club and earning a berth in the Tim Horton's Brier.

Team fought back after being down 2-0 in best-of-5 series

From left, Jeff Chown, Greg Howard, Jeff Nadeau, and Peter Mackey (skip) will represent Nunavut at the 2021 Tim Horton's Brier after winning the territorial championship on Sunday. (Nick Murray/CBC News)

Peter Mackey is heading back to the Brier.

The skip's team captured the Nunavut men's curling championship on Sunday, beating Wade Kingdon's team 10-6 in a winner-take-all game at the Iqaluit Curing Club.

Mackey's team trailed the best-of-five series 2-0 initially, but fought off elimination twice to force a fifth and deciding game Sunday afternoon.

Mackey urges on his sweepers in the final game of the 2021 Nunavut men's curling championship. (Nick Murray/CBC News)

"We looked at each other and said, 'Well, we've done this before, so let's try this again,'" said Mackey, whose team has faced similar deficits in past championships.

"It could have gone either way. We had some bounces, and they did too. We're just fortunate to pull it off at the end."

Comeback curling

Mackey's team got off to a slow start, but benefited from two huge ends in the match to seal the win.

Trailing 5-1 going into the fifth end, with their only point coming off a steal in the first, Mackey was poised for a comeback with three rocks in the house heading into skip stones.

After Kingdon played a takeout on Mackey's shot stone on his last rock, Mackey answered with a takeout of the lone red stone, scoring four in the end and tying the game 5-5 at the break.

After trading singles in the sixth and seventh, Mackey was again set up for a big end in the eighth. Following a takeout, Mackey was sitting three in the house, but Kingdon missed the takeout on his first rock, allowing Mackey to set up a third guard.

On last rock, Kingdon had a tough draw to the button to save one, but left it well short of the house, allowing Team Mackey to steal three to take the lead.

Peter Mackey (right) lines up a shot in the 2021 Nunavut men's curling championships. His team defeated Wade Kingdon's (left) 10-6 to punch their ticket to the Tim Hortons Brier. (Nick Murray/CBC News)

"Stealing the three [was huge]. If Wade's shot had come over a little more, he gets his one and it's a tougher game and could have gone either way," Mackey said. "We got a lucky break there where his rock didn't come over, we got the three, and that made a big difference."

Brier experience helping grow curling in Nunavut

This will be Mackey and Nadeau's third trip to the Brier, but the first time shooting skip and third stones, respectively. Howard has played in one Brier, in 2017, the final year of the pre-qualifying tournament before Nunavut was given an automatic bid into the main draw. Chown will be making his Brier debut.

While Nunavut is winless in five trips to the Brier — to which Nunavut's very participation in the national championship has drawn criticism from some curling pundits — Mackey said experiences like the Brier are helping to grow the game in the territory.

"From our perspective, we're trying to build the sport of curling in Nunavut and the way to do that is for us to go down to the Brier," Mackey said.

"Realistically, we know we're going down there hoping for [one] win. But what we want to do is bring it back to the club here and let our junior curlers see it. We have more 'Little Rocks' and 'learn to curl' curlers this year, than we have actual adult curlers."

About the Author

Nick Murray is a CBC reporter, based in Iqaluit since 2015. He got his start with CBC in Fredericton after graduating from St. Thomas University's journalism program. He's also worked two Olympic Games as a senior writer with CBC Sports. You can follow Nick on Twitter at @NickMurray91.

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