Bridgewater husband-wife team win provincial curling title

BRIDGEWATER – Jeff and Shelley Crouse will be one of three teams to represent the province at the Maritime Mixed Doubles Stick Curling championships in Prince Edward Island next month.

The couple topped the 21-team field at the provincial championships held at the Amherst Curling Club Jan. 19 to 21. This is just the second time that the mixed has been held, both in Amherst.

"We're pretty happy with being able to win the trophy. It was unexpected," said Jeff. "We had two bad losses at the start, but we turned things around once we got a little more sleep and felt a bit better Saturday, then we kept the ball rolling."

The duo played seven games of six-end curling, in total and after two losses, came back to win five straight.

The Maritime championships will be held March 19 to 21 with the top three teams coming from Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

The provincial result also means that they have a spot at the national championships that will be held in April in Ontario, an event that could see as many as 72 teams compete.

Jeff said having a close relationship with his curling partner, Shelley, is key to the team's success.

"We almost know what each other is going to call. You kind of know how each other thinks in the game," said Jeff, adding that communication is tough with just the two curlers being involved. "Very rarely do we have to take a time out to talk over a shot. We just have good understanding of each other, and I think that's what makes us strong."

Both players also have a long history of traditional, four-a-side curling (Shelley, more than Jeff) and continue to do so, however, due to past knee problems, the traditional game is taken a bit of a back seat to the stick method.

"I curled traditional for years, but I had knee problems and switched to stick curling in the fall of 2019," said Shelley.

Meanwhile Jeff, a retired Michelin worker said that his knees were worn out and local stick curling organizer, Lloyd Tancock, reached out to him and got him involved in organizing. This is the second year that the mixed stick curling game has been offered in Bridgewater.

"It gained momentum that first year and we had 25 members. Now we are close to 45 and we're full," said Jeff, explaining that the game is not for just people with any disabilities. It's open to anyone to play.

The stick doubles' game is different in several ways, including the fact that there is one person from your team at each end and each of the two players on the ends, throw six rocks. Another rule change is that the skip for that end can only sweep from hog line to house. As a thrower, Jeff said, that you help judge the weight and sometimes call the line, but don't sweep.

Jeff and Shelley agree that it may sound like this game is a bit easier than the traditional style, but make no mistake, there is nothing easy about it.

"If anyone thinks that it's easy to slide out, push a rock at the end of a five-or-six-foot pole, they're sadly mistaken," said Jeff.

But as the game grows in the province, so will the competition.

They are both excited to say that the provincial mixed stick curling championships will be held for the next two years, 2025 and 2026 in Bridgewater and they expect a much larger field than what they saw in Amherst and they can't wait to try and defend their title in their home rink. Watch for more details as the event gets closer.

Thank you for printing this article from lighthousenow.ca. Subscribe today for access to all articles, including our archives!