“We had a really tight connection with that team on and off the ice,” said Chris Haichert, who noted that they rode the bus together to North Bay, they sat together, roomed together at the hotel, and partied with them every night.
“Then after we beat them we still sat together,” added Teejay.
“It was pretty special to play them in the final,” said Chris, who added that they specifically asked to sit with them at the closing banquet as well. “They are great friends of ours and it was fun to play them in the final.
Saskatchewan has now won 10 Canadian Mixed championships, tying Alberta for the provinces with the most victories in the history of the mixed event.
Team Saskatchewan shot out of the gate with four straight wins to ensure themselves a spot in the championship pool.
They opened their week with a 9-2 win over Nunavut on Monday afternoon. Saskatchewan followed up with a 6-4 victory over Newfoundland & Labrador that evening. Kirkpatrick moved to 3-0 on Tuesday with a 7-4 win over Nova Scotia. They remained unbeaten after two days with a 5-3 win over Northern Ontario.
The final day of the opening round robin saw Team Saskatchewan drop their first two games by one point each time. They lost 7-6 to Prince Edward Island that morning. They also lost 6-5 to Ontario to place second in the seven-team pool.
Kirkpatrick entered the championship pool with a 2-1 record against qualified teams with four games against the Pool A teams ahead. They opened the next phase of the tournament with a dominating 8- 3 win over Quebec in six ends on Thursday morning.
Saskatchewan came up with a huge win Thursday evening in defeating the Northwest Territories 6-3. Kirkpatrick led 4-2 after a deuce in the sixth end and then sealed the win with another two points in the eighth end to defeat Koe’s rink. Saskatchewan then defeated British Columbia 6-4 and Manitoba 8-5 to top the championship pool with a 6-1 record.
“We were fortunate enough to finish first. We got a little bit lucky on the last day. We had to win our game and another team had to lose a game for us to finish first and that happened for us,” said Kirkptrick. “We got first place, which gave us rock choice and hammer for both the semi-final and the final, which was a big advantage. We curled well and put two good games together.”
“We started off fairly slowly and that might be attributed to the fact that we haven’t been able to make time to practice or meet up before we went to Nationals,” added Chris Haichert. “Our last time together was back in March when we won Provincials. It took us three or four games to get back in the groove and get rolling again.”
“We just seemed to get better and better as the week went on,” explained Chris. “No more so than our skip Max, he just shot the lights out all week. You could tell that he really wanted to win this and he let nobody down.”
The team was loaded with elite curling experience, including junior world titles and Brier and Scotties appearances from the Haicherts, and Scotties and world experience from Campbell.
“I was the only one there without national experience and these three have all got world experience. That will sure help a lot when we go to Europe next year,” said Kirkpatrick, the elder statesman on the team.
“I am just super excited about the win, excited for Swift Current that we were able to bring a banner back to the rink for them, that is a huge accomplishment,” said Teejay “Also just to win for Max and help him accomplish one of his dreams when he is kind of late in curling and almost done his curling career.”
“Max will tell you he has been curling his whole life trying to get somewhere and always just come up on the short end of the stick,” interrupted Chris. “To see the smile on Max’s face when we won Provincials and when we won this Canadian title it absolutely melted my heart because he has been a great ambassador for the sport of curling forever. To see him win this I couldn’t be any more prouder than to be able to help him reach his goals.”
As a bonus, the Kirkpatrick foursome will represent Canada at the first ever World Mixed Curling Championship to be held in Sept. 2015. The only details about the tournament announced so far is that it will be held in Europe.
“I think we will be competitive,” said Kirkpatrick. “I don’t know what the European fields are like, if they are going to have their biggest names there or not. We won’t really know that until sometime in the spring. I am sure our team is going to be competitive if we can stay healthy and work on our game for the rest of this winter and stay in shape next summer. We will be competitive with anybody I think.”
“I definitely think we will be contenders,” added Teejay. “For the European teams they are much more into the mixed curling so they will be throwing their best players together onto teams and whatnot. We will definitely have our work cut out for us but I think that we will be contenders when we go over there and we will give it all that we can when we get there and we will have a chance to be in the running.”