Undefeated. Unfazed. Overwhelmed.
That's how Neepawa's Kelly Robertson felt only moments after an extra-end, last-rock draw to the button to capture the Strathcona senior men's provincial curling title Monday night at the Heather Curling Club.
"Absolutely fantastic," Robertson gushed, in the immediate wake of edging former provincial men's champion John Bubbs 10-9 in the final. "Great feeling. To represent Manitoba is going to be quite an honour. Boy, I'm really proud of the way the guys played. We had a great run here."
Indeed, Robertson's foursome -- including third Doug Armour, second Peter Prokopowich and lead Bob Scales -- sailed through the championship undefeated before advancing to the final with a 5-3 victory over Doug Jordan of Portage in the Page 1-1 playoff game Monday morning.
Meanwhile, Bubbs -- along with third Garry DeBlonde, second Gary Smith and lead Dean Care -- had to take the long road, including a 7-4 victory over former world champion Kerry Burtnyk (Assiniboine Memorial) in a tie-breaker before edging Jordan 5-2 in Monday's semifinal.
The final was hard fought to the last extra end. With the game deadlocked at 5-5, Bubbs scored a deuce in the eighth with a draw to the four-foot. But Bubbs was in a mess of trouble in the ninth, as Robertson, with the hammer, was lying four with the last of skip rocks. When Bubbs hit and rolled the wrong way, Robertson was left for an open draw for a quad and a 9-7 lead.
Bubbs rebounded in the 10th with a pair to send the game into an extra end. However, with Bubbs' final stone perfectly buried in the four-foot, Robertson calmly drew stone cold for a piece of the button and his first provincial title and a trip to the Canadian championships in Digby, N.S. March 19-26.
In the women's final Sunday, Deborah Popovic (Fort Garry) defeated Hamiota's Sandra Cowling 8-6.
"We kind of gelled," Robertson said. "I think we've won 17 in a row (dating back to the MCA). It just shows we do have a contender. (But) it is a tough field. We had some breaks. If anybody wins something and says they didn't have any breaks, they're lying. You have to have a little bit of luck on your side, too."
Bubbs wasn't feeling very lucky after giving up four in the ninth.
"That was a bit of a meltdown, I'd say," Bubbs said. "But we came back and tied it up in 10 and really put it to them in the extra end. But they (Robertson) made a great draw to the button. That's why they're winners."
Bubbs acknowledged that the senior men's field was littered with familiar faces who've clashed over the years in provincial playdowns.
"Well, this is a lot more fun," he said. "The guys here are a lot more relaxed. It's competitive but... the guys come here to really enjoy themselves. And it's been fabulous here (at the Heather) all week."