Heading into the Canadian Armed Forces Canada West Curling championship, 4 Wing Cold Lake skip 2nd Lieut. Kyle Walker felt like he had some unfinished business.
His rink had put together a stellar round robin during the 2022 tournament at the Moose Jaw Events Centre, only to fall in the semifinal to eventual champion 17 Wing Winnipeg and finish out of the medals.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the former USports St. Francis Xavier standout, and one he didn’t want any part of dealing with in 2023.
So how did he go about handling it this time around?
Just win, baby.
Walker and his rink of third Master Cpl. Andrew Mallard, second Sgt. Adam McAloney and lead Lieut. Colby Evans went unbeaten through the seven-team event at the Moose Jaw Curling Centre, capping their run Friday morning with a 9-1 win over CFB Shilo’s Master Cpl. Malcolm Edwards in the gold medal game.
“Yeah, I was kind of on a bit of a mission to get some redemption from last year,” Walker said with a huge grin shortly after their win. “We were coming in with a stronger team as well and got some practice time in Cold Lake, and then we had some great sweepers, which paid dividends many times this week, especially for me. They bailed me out a couple times so hats off to them.”
Walker had put together a remarkable run through the round robin, putting up double digits in offence every game except for a barnburner against 19 Wing Comox that saw his crew squeak out a 5-4 victory.
The semifinal was more of the same, as Cold Lake rolled to an 11-4 win over CFB Equimalt.
Meanwhile, Shilo’s Edwards, third Master Cpl. Alex Arguin, second Cpl. Braiden Mayhew and lead Master Cpl. Andrew Cowper posted a 4-2 record in their round robin to finish third before upsetting 5-1 Comox in the semifinal Thursday afternoon.
The title game ended up being a steal-fest, with Cold Lake picking up deuces without the hammer in every end they scored except the first and seventh ends.
“I was trying to play a game to force the opposition skip to make some critical shots and force some misses, put them under stress, and we were able to do that,” Walker said. “Our lead really pulled through for us putting up the guards, and then we played the come-around game which we consistently did all week and was kind of our bread-and-butter. So we stuck to what we were good at and were consistent.”
Putting together the perfect week was always a pie-in-the-sky goal, but having accomplished it was most certainly satisfying.
“Going undefeated was cool for sure,” Walker said. “There were definitely some ups and downs, Comox gave us a good run in that game and they’re a really strong team as well. But we were just looking to play a consistent game, kept the hammer down and tried to stay focussed all week long.”
15 Wing representatives Cpl. Jonathan Benson and his rink of third Sgt. Jay McLellan, second WO Robert Cogswell and lead Capt. Jean Doyon just missed the playoffs after putting together a 2-4 record in the round robin.