After months of discussion and weeks of planning, 5 Ontario crokinole fanatics had accepted the challenge of traveling out east for the PEI Crokinole Championships. And we found what PEI crokinole was really like.
Friday night was the weekly crokinole party in Stratford, PEI, where the players from PEI, Nova Scotia, and Ontario could socialize before Saturday's event. It was an average turnout for the club as they ran 11 doubles tables at the Cotton Centre in Stratford. The club mixes men's and women's doubles pairings, and rotates in such a way that almost everyone will meet in the course of an evening. There was a strong mix of the 44 people who attended the evening with 20 women and 24 men. After getting used to the scoring system and a few rule variations, we really got to know and appreciate our crokinole compatriots. It was a great night of PEI crokinole to lead into another fantastic day on Saturday.
The tournament began at 9am in the Cornwall Fire Hall with singles in the morning. 27 tables with 54 players, including 20 women were in action, with an additional 6 players in the junior category. It was a tough division to advance through with several strong players, and only the top two advancing to the final round. After the 10 game preliminary round, Wilfred Smith finished at the top with 65 points. Closely behind was Clare Kuepfer, Eric Miltenburg and Lawson Lea. Finishing in second though was George Doughart, by way of more 20's (or "centres" as they are called in PEI) setting up an all PEI final. In the final, George Doughart took the first game, before Wilfred Smith stormed back to win the next two games and take the PEI Singles Championship, winning the Sheldon Moore Memorial Trophy.
Sheldon Moore was a crokinole enthusiast responsible for organizing and founding crokinole clubs in PEI. After his death, the PEI Crokinole Championships were created in his honour, with the singles trophy named after him.
And while those in Waterloo, Ontario were being treated to free pie, we were all treated to a free lunch of sandwiches and snacks.
The afternoon was the doubles event with 14 tables and 56 competitors in play. After the 8 game round robin, Nathan Walsh and Clare Kuepfer qualified first, with a log jam for second place. The PEI team of Wilfred Smith and Lawson Lea were tied with Nova Scotia's, Don and Travis Wood, with 44 points. Right behind were Ontario's Eric Miltenburg and Tom Doucette with 43 points. But ahead in the 20's tiebreaker were Lea and Smith, resulting in an PEI vs ON final. The final was definitely exciting with Kuepfer/Walsh taking the first game and Lea/Smith taking the second. In the decisive third game it was Kuepfer/Walsh who would come out on top to take the PEI Pairs title.
After the completion of the tournament, David Younker had invited us Ontario folk to his home for a few more games of crokinole and to meet his father, another man responsible for much of crokinole's success in PEI.
On Sunday we all began to make our way back to Ontario with the promise that we would return to PEI some day in the future, and the hope that we would see a few of them sometime in Tavistock for the World Championships. Overall it was a fantastic weekend for crokinole, and PEI was a great host.
Crokinole is alive and well in PEI.