It was a biter among all the provinces, but Manitoba scored the most eight-enders — taking into consideration its population — last curling season.
Curling Canada recorded a total of 111 perfect scores — all eight of a team's rocks counting in the rings — within a single end of a curling game across the country between September 2018 and May 2019.
In total, Manitoba reported 11 eight-enders scored by both recreational and competitive athletes in the province. That adds up to 0.86 perfect single-end scores per 100,000 residents.
"Everybody wants to say they’ve had an eight-ender — it’s like getting a hole in one," said Andrew Atkinson, who was playing second when he scored his first during a game at the Pembina Curling Club last year on Oct. 22. "It doesn’t make the other team feel so good though."
While Ontario recorded a record 59 eight-enders last season, the math comes out to about 0.40 per 100,000 Ontarians.
Saskatchewan and Alberta were among the middle of the pack. Meanwhile, no eight-enders were recorded in Newfoundland and Labrador or any of the three territories.
Unlike the individual achievement of a hole-in-one, the sought-after curling score requires help from the opposing team members, who have to miss all of their shots or, at the very least, play so poorly that the other team is able to count all eight of their rocks.
That’s why Liam Wachal, 17, said he actually felt undeserving rather than prideful when he skipped his team to an eight-ender at the Selkirk Curling Club last season.
"We were playing against 12-year-olds. It was a U-21 bonspiel but the U-14 and U-21 got merged because there wasn’t enough people in the U-14 one," said Wachal, who currently plays out of the Granite Curling Club.
The 17-year-old skip added they didn’t want to embarrass the other team by scoring eight so he threw up a guard. The other team’s skip then, by accident, tapped his rock into the house.
A spectator immediately ran out onto the ice from behind the glass to take a photo and congratulate Wachal and his team.
In order to claim the eight-ender prize — a certificate and pin from Curling Canada, as well as a crest from Curl Manitoba, a team has to send in a photo of their eight rocks in the house and information about the event.
Curling Canada spokesman Danny Lamoureux said eight-enders aren’t as common as players may think.
"I managed a curling club for 17 years, and I only ever saw one at a club," said Lamoureux, director of curling club development and championship services at the national organization.
He added there are "literally, tens of thousands of curling games played every year across the country."
Only this autumn, Curling Canada started canvassing clubs to try to get a grasp on how many games are played in Canada. When that data comes in, Lamoureux said, Curling Canada will have a better idea of how rare eight-enders really are.
It’s difficult to track the total games played, let alone the number of people who participate, between registered curlers and beer-league spares.
Although, Lamoureux noted there are approximately 90 curling clubs in Manitoba registered with Curling Canada. In Southern Ontario alone, there are almost 200.
"You don’t see eight-enders at the tournament level. You see them in club play and sometimes in small fun 'spiels. It’s generally a disparity between the skill level of the two teams." - Danny Lamoureux
Neither Lamoureux, nor any curling enthusiast, could provide a confident answer to justify Manitoba scoring more than its fair share of last season's eight-enders.
Curl Manitoba executive director Craig Baker’s hypothesis is the fact the provincial association supplies recipients with crests, so there’s more motivation to report them or lots of new curlers are joining leagues and competing against experienced players.
"It’s a heck of a good mystery," Lamoureux agreed, adding that, "you don’t see eight-enders at the tournament level. You see them in club play and sometimes in small fun 'spiels. It’s generally a disparity between the skill level of the two teams."
In 2015, Winnipeg’s Kerri Einarson made Manitoba Scotties history when her team stole eight in the provincial tournament against Dauphin’s Tiffany McLean.
Maggie is a cub reporter who covers every beat in the newsroom. She appreciates alliteration, when newspaper ink stains her fingertips and, more importantly, tips on social and environmental equity issues.