OTTAWA—Wade Kingdon and his Nunavut teammates were getting shelled at the Tim Hortons Brier—and they weren’t the least bit upset about it.
Yukon’s Bob Smallwood put up three points in the first end, a deuce in the second, and a four-ender in the third this morning.
Smallwood took a 13-1 lead into the mid-game break and the blowout was on.
But the members of Team Nunavut looked happier than anyone in the building.
They had hit the big time. They were playing on top-flight arena ice in a 10,000-seat venue.
They were playing in the men’s national curling championship. They were proud to be sporting territorial colours in Nunavut’s first appearance at this event.
Kingdon and his crew had arrived and the scoreline didn’t seem to bother them at all.
They gave it their best effort—even scoring a pair in the sixth end—in a 14-4 loss.
“It doesn’t get any bigger than this,” Kingdon said upon arrival at TD Place.
“For us, we’ve already won,” he added. “We’ve already accomplished coming here and representing Nunavut for the first time on this kind of scale.
“So we’re happy no matter what.”
It was a scoreline similar to the night before for Kingdon and his crew from the Iqaluit Curling Club.
They opened the competition by dropping a 13-2 decision to Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories.
Kingdon was set to close out round-robin play later today against Nova Scotia’s Jamie Murphy.
One of the four teams in the qualifying draw will advance to the 12-team main draw beginning tomorrow.
“We knew coming out here it was going to be an uphill battle,” Kingdon conceded.
“We’re the underdogs. We don’t have any expectations on ourselves.
“We already have the expectation of being here and representing Nunavut, and that’s good enough for us.”
There were a couple of hundred spectators on hand for the opening draw, which is a couple hundred more than Kingdon is used to.
A few dozen fans took in the morning game. Kingdon and his crew put in a valiant effort and quite simply were overmatched.
Nunavut declined an invitation to play last year in the first year of the qualification format.
Kingdon’s team was more prepared to give it a go this year—even though the 35-year-old skip only plays the occasional tournament.
“We just don’t have the opportunity to hop in a car because we’re on an island,” he noted.
“We have to fly everywhere and it gets quite costly.
“We don’t have the advantage of playing teams or going to bonspiels and stuff,” he added.
His team includes lead Bruce Morgan, who took up the sport just two years ago, along with third Dennis Masson and second Aaron Fraser.
The current lineup has been together since last fall.
“The experience is awesome on so many levels,” Kingdon said. “We’re playing against the best competitors in the world.
“Coming from a small town and a small rink . . . for us it’s always going to be special no matter what; no matter what the standings are.”
Kingdon will stay in Ottawa for the next week regardless of how he fares. He has taken time off from his job as an airline cargo manager to be here for the entire tournament.
Koe, meanwhile, improved to 2-0 with a 6-5 win over Murphy, who was tied with Smallwood at 1-1.
The top two teams will square off tomorrow afternoon for the 12th and final main draw spot.