To win the dominion darts is one thing, but to win it in your home province is another,” said an enthusiastic Willie MacIsaac after his team successfully defended its title at the 2019 Dominion Command Darts Championships held at Dominion, N.S., Branch on May 3-5.
The team from MacDonald Memorial Branch in Lakeside, just outside Halifax, had won the 2018 championship in Mascouche, Que., with a slightly different lineup. This year’s team consisted of MacIsaac, Coady Burke, Jason Smith and Sheldon Fudge. Burke and Smith were on the team last year.
“With so many good shooters in Nova Scotia, you are always mixing up the combination,” said MacIsaac.
Old friendships were renewed and some new ones were made at a meet and greet event held at the hotel in Sydney on the Friday night before.
The next day a bus drove the players and their companions 20 kilometres northwest to Dominion Branch where action began.
The opening ceremonies were simple with all the players lining up outside the branch on a clear, sunny day. The teams followed the colour party inside, falling behind their provincial flag. President Paul Prince, who was also chair of the Local Arrangements Committee, welcomed the players, as did Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command President Mel Crowe, who was representing the Dominion Command Sports Committee.
The championships are played in round robin format with each leg consisting of three games. Players must double in to start counting down and double out to win. Singles count down from 301, doubles from 501 and teams from 701.
The first competition was for doubles.
Early on, the British Columbia/Yukon team of brothers Bryce and Connor Book from Kamloops Branch seemed to be the ones to beat. Close behind them was the New Brunswick pair of Scott Tracy and Derek Hanley from Blacks Harbour Branch.
By the eighth round, B.C. had 20 points followed by New Brunswick with 17 and the Newfoundland and Labrador team of Mitchell Burt and Jerry Spurrel from Portugal Cove Branch with 15.
As fate would have it, B.C. faced N.B. in the final leg of the round robin. If New Brunswick could take all three games, there would be a tie for first place and the teams would meet each other again in a tiebreaker. However, B.C. won the first match, eliminating N.B.’s chance to be a spoiler.
The final score was B.C. 21, N.B. 19 and Newfoundland 18.
The Kamloops pair were delighted. Bryce Book had been part of British Columbia’s team in 2018 but this was the first time the two brothers had reached dominion level in doubles play.
“I have been playing darts since I joined a darts youth club when I was 15. I got Connor playing and then we taught our father,” said Bryce.
Doubles play was followed quickly by the singles game.
Nick Smith from Lawrencetown, N.S., Branch was in the lead throughout the game.
Scott Tracy was again representing New Brunswick and again the one closest to the leader with Ontario player Edward Roberts of Maj. W.D. Sharpe Branch in Brampton always in contention.
The final score was Nova Scotia 19, New Brunswick 18 and Ontario 17.
“I wasn’t really watching the scoreboard. I just knew that I kept getting threes, so I must be winning,” said Smith. The 24-year-old started playing darts with his father D.J. Smith who has played at dominion level before.
That ended play for the Saturday. That evening there was a dance at the branch for the players to enjoy.
The next morning players were anxious to get going in the team event.
The Manitoba-Northwestern Ontario team of Scott Sansom, Curtis Zirk, Dean Corlett and Thomas Todd from Elmwood Branch in Winnipeg were the only team to get three points in the first leg. They were the team to watch early on but could not hold on to the lead. The Nova Scotia team was coming on strong, scoring two or three points in each leg. Also coming out front were the New Brunswick team of Tracy, Hanley, Mark Hebert and Ike Mullin and the Saskatchewan team of Curt Gamble, Jesse Gamble, John Brann and Marcus Stephanson from Moose Jaw Branch.
In the seventh round, Nova Scotia’s lead was stalled at 14 when New Brunswick took all three points in their leg. Victory no longer looked like a sure thing. However, the team bounced back with three points in the eighth round.
Going into the final round, it was Nova Scotia in the lead with 17, followed by Saskatchewan with 16 and New Brunswick with 15. However, Saskatchewan was playing against New Brunswick. If there was going to be a tiebreaker, it could only be with one of them. Nova Scotia won the first match in its leg and breathed a sigh of relief. Saskatchewan won its leg 2-1.
The final score was Nova Scotia 19, Saskatchewan 18 and New Brunswick 16.
Everything wrapped up with an awards banquet on Sunday night. Prince thanked the volunteers who had helped out with the tournament, the drivers and the kitchen and bar helpers who kept everything flowing smoothly.
Hosting the event was a big challenge for the branch, which had just completed renovations and painting in the large banquet room where the competition was held. Crowe noted that the branch had had a very successful membership drive, raising its membership from 40 to about 100.
The teams also sent their spokespeople forward to express their gratitude for the Cape Breton hospitality.