Brier getting B.C. rookies
Ah, the enthusiasm of youth.
The smiles really did say it all Sunday as Royal City skip Andrew Bilesky and his young rink knocked off Brent Pierce 7-4 to win the 2013 Canadian Direct Insurance B.C. Men's Curling Championship in Parksville and advance to the Brier.
"Wow," a beaming Bilesky marvelled in the moments after his final shot in the 10th end to nail down the win, played out in front of a good-sized appreciative crowd. "We're going to the Brier."
Team Pierce, also out of Royal City, lost to Kelowna's Jim Cotter rink in a close one here in Parksville on the exact same sheet of ice in last year's final.
The disappointed foursome left the rink immediately after the final rock and skipped the closing ceremony and medal presentations.
Bilesky and the boys on the other hand enjoyed every minute of it, earnestly excited and savouring the moment with family and friends.
"To be honest I thought they were the best team out there — from start to finish," team coach Neil Houston from Port Moody said after.
Along the way, Team Bilesky beat the two-time defending champion Jim Cotter twice in the preliminary rounds to help end their run.
"It's what I said earlier, right," tournament chair Penny Shantz confirmed after the game, referring to an earlier prediction. "They were unstoppable."
As much a win of attrition as clutch shot-making, Bilesky had to come out of the C Event "so they came the tough way, that's for sure."
Bilesky and the boys lost out of the A Event, then lost out in the B Event, but third time was the charm as they went unbeaten down the stretch. The team played 10 games from Wednesday morning on.
"They came the tough way but they just kept gaining momentum, and you could kind of feel that," said Shantz.
According to the stats board, at one point late in the game Bilesky was shooting in the 90 per cent range.
Pierce was in a position to score in the sixth when Bilesky made a great shot, drawing against three of Pierce's rocks and parking it right on the bottom to go up 5-1.
"It would have been a totally different game had he missed that," said Shantz. "It would have allowed Brent back in the game, but he didn't let him back in the whole game."
"It's really nice to see that for B.C.; a nice young team like that. It shows that we have some good young curlers."
This is only the team's second year together. Bilesky (New Westminster), third Steve Kopf (Coquitlam), second Derek Errington (New Westminster) and lead Aaron Watson (Surrey), "have been working towards this game since the day we teamed up," Bilesky said between hugs and high fives.
"Everybody played great — everybody," he said.
Bilesky and Errington have both been to a national competition as juniors, but this was their debut at the B.C. Mens'.
Bilesky and the boys now shift their attention to the 2013 Tim Hortons Brier in Edmonton March 2-10 where they'll be playing alongside and against the likes of Canadian curling legends Kevin Martin (Alberta), Jeff Stoughton (Manitoba) and Glenn Howard (Ontario).