For the first time ever, Shaunavon served as the host community for the provincial men’s curling championships, and the inaugural showing seems to have been an overwhelming hit with fans, participants and officials. “I think it was excellent,” said Patsy Bailey, who co-chaired the Tankard’s core committee along with Barry Sonen. “I think everyone was pretty impressed with the whole week and the feedback we got was very positive.” “The host committee has done a great job,” stated Brian Hill, the president of CURLSASK. “We’re just really happy with how the event turned out.” The provincial championships kicked off on Wednesday with a pair of draws and a colourful opening ceremonies celebration. Other special events included a team luncheon, a dance and social Friday night featuring Ken Carson, and an awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon. The Crescent Point Wickenheiser Centre underwent a major transformation for the 2014 SaskTel Tankard. Most visibly, the skating rink was converted from a hockey rink to a curling rink in a four-day process. The facility also got an impressive cosmetic makeover. It was beautifully decorated and every effort was made to create an ideal viewing experience for fans and a comfortable setting for curlers and officials. “I just thought the whole ambiance of the facility was fantastic,” said Bailey. “It just got everyone into a good mood as soon as they walked into the building.” “There are always a few unexpected things that happen, but you deal with them as they come up,” said Sonen. “Overall, though, I thought it was a terrific week. It was like a holiday, where the first couple of days go by fairly slowly, but then before you know everything is over.” On the ice, fans were treated to fantastic action and incredible shot-making. The event came to a conclusion Sunday night with the championship trophy being awarded to the Steve Laycock rink of Saskatoon, who scored a 7-6 victory over the Brock Virtue team of Regina. While the 2014 Tankard may be long remembered for an incident during the championship final that saw Virtue thrown out for unsportsmanlike conduct, it was an incredible display of skill by all of the teams throughout the week that left the most lasting impression with fans. “The curling was exceptional,” said Sonen. “There were a lot of good, close games that went right down to the wire.” The Tankard featured a real who’s who of Saskatchewan curling. It was arguably one of the strongest fields ever assembled for a Saskatchewan men’s championship, with multiple former provincial title holders in Shaunavon. The 16-team modified triple knockout event continued throughout the week, concluding with semi-final and final playoff games on Sunday. The first round of playoffs were held Saturday night. The crowds were also good throughout the week, particularly during the evening draws and the playoff rounds. “It comes down to having a good host committee – if you have that you can make just about anything work,” offered Hill. The CURLSASK president even hinted that Shaunavon could be in the running for more provincial championships in the future. “This is a great facility, especially for a town of this size,” Hill said of the Crescent Point Wickenheiser Centre. “Certainly we would consider coming back here, and maybe we could have a women’s championship in the future.” For their part, both Bailey and Sonen were extremely grateful for the hard work and dedication of their fellow committee members, along with the one hundred or so volunteers who helped with the Tankard. “It really was a complete team effort,” commented Bailey. “We couldn’t have done it without the support of our volunteers, our community and the entire Southwest.” “It was a lot of work, but in the end it was more than worth it,” she added.