Nunavut’s Brier ends with loss to N.W.T.

Territory’s 1-7 record means an exit from men’s curling championship with an eye on next year

Nunavut curlers play a rock during their last match of the Brier men’s championship against the Northwest Territories Wednesday in London, Ont. (Photo by Ed Klajman, special to Nunatsiaq News)

By Ed Klajman, special to Nunatsiaq News

LONDON, Ont. – Facing winless Northwest Territories on Wednesday, it was a great chance for Team Nunavut to leave the 2023 Brier – Canada’s men’s national curling championship – with a second victory.

But with the squad representing the Iqaluit Curling Club trailing just 4-3 after six ends, Jamie Koe and his team from Yellowknife broke the game open in the seventh end, scoring three points, followed by another two in the eighth, for a 9-3 win and early handshakes.

“I thought we had a shot to win today but I didn’t play great,” said Nunavut skip Jake Higgs.

“I couldn’t get my rocks to do the same things twice, so I was just a little bit confused about what was happening with the speed out there. You feel like you throw a good shot and it comes up 10 feet short and then you throw the same weight your next one and it kind of goes through (the house). Today just wasn’t my day.”

With its day off coming on Thursday, the event’s final day of pool play, Nunavut’s tournament came to an end with a record one win and seven losses. A 7-4 victory over Newfoundland and Labrador on March 4 was Nunavut’s first-ever in the tournament’s history, after 44 losses since 2016.

“It was so much fun,” said third Sheldon Wettig, reflecting on the tournament.

“The crowd really seemed to get behind us. We had support not just from back up north but all over Canada. That meant a lot, having so many people cheer for us, whether we won or lost.”

For lead Christian Smitheram — who will soon return to Iqaluit and his job as a pilot for Canadian North — the week was a whirlwind.

“My phone is blowing up,” he said.

“The premier of Nunavut even had a social media post about us. I’m so excited to go back now and see everybody. We learned so much this week. I’m really excited to bring that back to everybody at the club and start sharing that knowledge. And I’m hopeful that we will see more involvement at the club, and getting more kids out to play the sport.”

When alternate Terry Lichty returns to work next week as the manager of Iqaluit’s Northmart, he figures it will just be business as usual, but “if there are some handshakes and congratulations, all the better.”

The question now is whether the team, which also includes second Brady St. Louis, will reunite to try to qualify for the 2024 Brier in Regina.

Said Higgs: “Honestly, we haven’t even thought about it. It just depends on what the guys are looking to do. I would like us to do it again, but we all have families and other commitments too, so it just depends.”

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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by So on

    I must say, given the focus on this team from Nunavut over the last week, I am looking forward to daily Nunatsiaq News coverage of the Terrence Tootoo Memorial tournament coming up in Rankin next week. Surely that event warrants at least as much attention as this one did.

  2. Posted by Putting this out there on

    Congratulations to Team Nunavut Men’s curlers. You have a friend in Nunatsiaq news, that is 5 articles posting in 7 days.
    And really only one of them is from Nunavut, the others have not or barely even been in Nunavut long enough to watch the previous Briers while in Nunavut.

    Did we even get that many articles on Nunavut at the Canada Winter Games?

  3. Posted by Ok on

    Agreed! I’m so glad this is over, I sure hope if this team stays the way it is next year, that Nunatsiaq News does not provide useless daily updates. The team from NWT had more ties to the north than this so called NU team did!!

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