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Alberta takes eight-ball championship

Dominion Sports Chairman Angus Stanfield congratulates team champions (from left) Cy Boersma and Ken Hicks of Bowness Branch in Calgary and Kim Bohnet and Ron Meier of Robertson Memorial Branch in Medicine Hat.
Doubles champions Kevin Houle and Dave Snoddy of Burlington, Ont., Branch accept their trophy.

Visitors to Estevan, Sask., are immediately struck by the distant horizons, endless blue skies and wide prairie city streets. In this city of 11,000, just 16 kilometres north of the United States border, support for the military and veterans runs deep.

For many decades, Legion members have travelled to Portal, N.D., where Canadian and American veterans’ organizations assemble on U.S. Memorial Day and march back and forth over the international border in a special show of unity.

But this year, several stalwarts were missing from the annual commemoration. They were busy transporting competitors to and from Regina and the 2018 Dominion Command Eight-Ball Championships and hosting the event, held May 25-27.

Local Arrangements Chair Frosty Forrest and President Lyle Dukart (right) receive a plaque for Estevan Branch’s hosting of the tournament.
Singles champion Kim Bohnet takes aim.

The team from Labrador City, N.L., Branch may have had the longest plane trip, but Bill Wright and David Boomer, from Hespeler Branch in Cambridge, Ont., took the longest time via a 30-hour drive over four days covering 2,653 kilometres. The Saskatchewan team, from Estevan, had the shortest trip. Joining them were teams from Alberta-Northwest Territories, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia/Nunavut.

The opening ceremonies Saturday featured greetings from representatives of all levels of government and from Saskatchewan Command and Dominion Command. “We are very happy to have eight-ball back,” said Dominion Sports Chairman Angus Stanfield. “We are committed to its growth and with your help we can make it bigger and better.”

This year all participants played on both days of the competition, in round-robin format for the team championship on Saturday and the doubles championship on Sunday, a possibility opened because there were four tables, which scorekeeper Willie Forrest kept in constant use.

Players were divided into four divisions for the team round robin, playing three games against each opponent, with one point awarded for each win. Individual scores were added together to determine team standings, and the four players with the highest scores went on to compete Sunday in the singles competition. Winners of ties were determined by which team had beaten the other in round-robin play.

Play continued all day, through lunch and past supper. Players not in a match formed a knot around the scoreboard, mentally tallying scores across all 28 players to reckon their teams’ changing fortunes throughout the long day.

In the end, the Alberta team of Cy Boersma and Ken Hicks from Bowness Branch in Calgary and Kim Bohnet and Ron Meier of Robertson Memorial Branch in Medicine Hat placed first with 49 points, with the New Brunswick team of Shawn Stewart and Jerry, Danny and Frank Carroll of Miramichi, N.B., Branch second with 41 points.

“We thought we had a chance in the beginning,” said Boersma. “Then we lost a few. We had to dig to get ’er back.”

“I didn’t think we had a chance,” said Bohnet. “Everybody was ahead of us by two or three points early on. It just made us focus so hard and try our very, very best. You have to be bold when you can, take advantage of other players’ mistakes.”

Meier was modest about walking away with the highest individual score, 15 of a possible 18. “My competitors helped me a lot,” he said, smiling.

Players liked the opportunity to play a doubles round robin, said Stanfield. “When they sign up, they sign up as a team, and want to play as a team. But in the other structure, the team was split up, so they might or might not get to play together. Almost all of them weren’t going to play today; the doubles [play] would have just been two teams.”

Instead, 14 teams, divided in two divisions, played in a round robin of the same nail-biting intensity of the day before. At the end of play, Dave Snoddy and Kevin Houle of Burlington, Ont., Branch won in the first division, but there was a three-way tie in the second among Boersma and Hicks of Alberta, New Brunswick’s Danny and Frank Carroll and Dwayne Broomfield and Carl Ringer from Labrador City Branch. The Carrolls had the best win record, so went on to play in the finals.

Ontario’s Snoddy and Houle won the best of five. “Today just worked out right,” said Houle. “The final game was what turned it. We got some rolls that went our way.” It is the first time they have been to the dominion championships and the first year they have played together as partners.

With barely a break to catch a breath, the singles tournament began among the top scorers from the team round robin—Bohnet and Meier from Alberta and Danny Carroll and Stewart from New Brunswick.

Bonhet won, racking up seven of a possible nine points, followed by Stewart with five and Meier and Carroll with three each.

“It’s a little intimidating to play against the Carrolls,” Bohnet said following the awards ceremony.

Since 2014, New Brunswick teams with some combination of the Carroll brothers have fared well at the dominion championships, winning the doubles that year; the team championship (with partners taking singles first and second) in 2017; and coming second in all three competitions in 2018.

“It’s kind of a family tradition,” said Frank. Many of the 14 children, including sisters, took up pool. “We hung around pool halls when we were 14, 15, and it started from there.”

Frank is new to the lineup.

“I shot before, but not for 45 years. I just started shooting again with my brothers, just these past seven months.”

Pool is helping build branch membership, said Estevan Branch President Lyle Dukart. “It has brought in younger members [and] one senior who just became involved for the eight-ball.”

“I think I counted 23 new members,” said Local Arrangements Committee Chair Frosty Forrest, a pool aficionado. When dominion eight-ball was in its infancy, he lobbied to host a provincial tournament and raised funds to buy two tables (two more were loaned for the tournament). Now two pool leagues play weekly at the branch.

The tournament ended with a banquet and awards ceremony Sunday, during which volunteers were heartily thanked, particularly Forrest and his son Willie and Dianne Allen. “Their hard work has paid off big time,” said Stanfield.

Players’ recommendations for four tables at dominion championships and for a doubles round robin will be forwarded to the Dominion Command Sports Committee. Rules are being honed as the sport matures, Stanfield said, with an eye to standardization across the country. “If everybody plays by the same rules, we feel the sport will have a better chance of growing.”



2018 team Results

Alta.-N.W.T. 49 (Cy Boersma and Ken Hicks, Bowness Br., Calgary; Kim Bohnet and Ron Meier, Robertson Memorial Br., Medicine Hat); N.B. 41 (Shawn Stewart and Jerry, Danny and Frank Carroll, Miramichi Br.);  N.L. 37 (Carl Pike, Robert Hall, Dwayne Broomfield and Carl Ringer, Labrador City Br.); Ont. 37 (Dave Snoddy and Kevin Houle, Burlington Br.; Bill Wright and David Boomer, Hespeler Br., Cambridge); N.S./Nunavut 36 (Bob Massia, Tony Welshman, Bradley Thomas and Mike Myers, Centennial Br., Dartmouth); Sask. 31 (Doug Cairns, Burt Blondeau, Jim Barnstable, Burva Connor, Estevan Br.); P.E.I. 21 (Ian Campbell, Charles Linder, Charlie Maynard, Albert Benoit, Montague Br.).




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