Skip Peter Mellor was up 5-3 and lying shot rock and guarded in the 10th end of the senior men’s Ontario final last month. .
In the hack was Bryan Cochrane, the 2003 Ontario men’s champion.
Cochrane was attempting to run back a long guard to remove the Mellor stone sitting shot. He had two other counters in the house. He would win the game 6-5 if his raised rock hung around, tie the game and send it an extra end if it didn’t.
K-W Granite’s Mellor slid up the sheet to stand beside lead Steve Foster. “Don’t be surprised if he makes this,” he said to Foster, “because they usually do against me.”
K-W Granite’s Mellor, Jeff Thomson, Rob Saunders and Foster were provincial champs.
For Mellor, it was a door finally opened after years of knocking. “Originally, it was relief. Then I was surprised and happy that I finally got to get to a national.”
Mellor has been to 21 provincials: the Gore Schoolboy (two times), Tankard (5), mixed (10), intermediates (2), senior men (2). He’s represented Durham (his original club), Chesley, Allenford, Paisley and K-W Granite.
He has had the most success in mixed events. It’s also where he has experienced the biggest heartbreaks.
In mixed, the first three go-arounds ended with losing records but in the remaining seven, Mellor’s rinks made the playoffs or tiebreakers six times. He’s lost the mixed final three times, the semifinals twice.
“I am not sure I can necessarily attribute to doing better from being there more times or having more experience or making more shots. Sometimes it just happens to be your week,” Mellor said.
In his first trip to the senior provincials in 2013, Mellor was 3-4. This time around he was 5-0 until losing his last two games to Cochrane and Brian Lewis (the 2012 senior champ), who also ended up with 5-2 records. By coming back and beating Lewis in the semifinal and Cochrane in the final, Mellor had defeated everyone in a field that also included five-time champion Bob Turcotte and 2005 champion Frank Gowman of the Galt Curling Club.
“All those games are usually decided by one shot here or there. So, the difference between being 2-5 and 5-2 is usually only about three shots over the course of the week,” Mellor said.
In 1988, Mellor’s Tankard-qualifying team had also included Thomson (his brother-in-law) and Saunders. Saunders was also on Mellor’s schoolboy squad in 1980.
“After I let it sink in a bit more … it’s really exciting to finally make it to one of these things with guys that played with me lots of times through the years to help me get to this point,” he said.
In a strange twist of fate, by qualifying for the national, Mellor must miss the mixed regions slated for March 20-21. The mixed has been a family affair the past couple of seasons with wife Carrie, son Brett and daughter Taylor making up the rink. When they made Ontario provincials last season, the Ontario Curling Association told them it was the first time a mixed rink had been made up of one family.
“We’ve got a spare and hopefully they will be able to make (the provincial) without the old man,” Mellor said. “I will be watching closely online to see how they make out.”
Mellor and his team leave March 20 for Yellowknife for the national championships that run from March 22 to 30.
Kitchener’s Matthew Hall skipped his Stroud rink to a 5-0 record to win the Ontario Winter Games boys curling last weekend. Grace Holyoke of the Guelph Curling Club was 2-3 in girls.
Intermediate men’s and women’s provincials are being hosted by the Elora Curling Club starting Wednesday. Guelph’s Kathy Brown is among the women’s rinks while Galt Country’s Ron Mooibroek and Galt Curling’s Frank Gowman compete in men’s.
In junior mixed, Eric Bradey (K-W Granite) will play in regionals this weekend in North Halton. In bantam mixed, it’s Austin Blue (K-W) and Matthew Hall (Westmount).
In Trophy, Guelph’s Brown has made yet another provincial after winning the A-side at the regionals in Wiarton. In Colts, Guelph’s Koko Gillis also won A-side regionals. Brown and Gillis will vie for an Ontario title March 13-15 in Chatham.
In case you missed my my earlier blog, I picked a Manitoba-Newfoundland Brier final (not looking great at the moment — c’mon, Gushue!) with B.C. and Alberta as the other playoff teams. I picked Team Ontario to go 6-5.