A large number of familiar faces with loads of successful curling experience are coming to Charlottetown later this month for the 61st Canadian FireFighters Curling Championships.
Ten teams are now confirmed for the national event following recent provincial playdowns. They include two-time defending champion Gregg Tarasoff of Saskatoon, Sask., who won the 2019 event in Kelowna, B.C. Chris Haichert, who has played with the Northwest Territories at the Brier, is a member of the Saskatoon-Swift Current squad.
“It’s a good field with a lot of strong teams,” said tournament co-chairman Peter MacDonald of the Crossroads Fire Department.
Alan Brown of Charlottetown Station One defended his provincial title last month and will represent P.E.I. from March 26-April 4 at the Charlottetown Curling Complex (CCC). Other members of the Brown foursome are third Will Callbeck, second Mike MacRae, lead Winston Bryan and alternate Kevin MacArthur.
The P.E.I. association is hosting the nationals, last held on the Island in 2009 when Saskatchewan won the 50th annual bonspiel. Organizers had expected 12 teams to compete in Charlottetown, but Newfoundland and Labrador will not be sending a team while the Northwest Territories still might be attending. All other provinces are coming while Ontario sends a north and south team.
This year’s championship kicks off with opening ceremonies Friday evening, March 26, at the CCC. Several guest speakers, provincial and municipal government representatives, fire officials and sponsors will be on hand. Organizers expect 10-12 national life members to be present with several heading out on the ice to take part in the ceremonial first-rock throw.
A unique ladder draw involving two aerial fire trucks takes place immediately after the opening ceremonies to determine the opening matches starting the next morning.
Each team will play nine games in the weeklong, round-robin format. The top four teams advance into a page playoff the following Friday and Saturday. A gala awards banquet will conclude the national event Saturday, April 4, at the Rodd Charlottetown.