New Brunswick racks up victory in eight-ball

October 2, 2017 by Tom MacGregor
The New Brunswick team of (from left) Greg Gauthier, Gerard Carroll, Danny Carroll and Shawn Stewart take the championship.
Tom MacGregor

Eight-ball returned with enthusiasm to Dominion Command member sports programs, after a year’s hiatus, at the 2017 Eight-Ball Championships played at Sturgeon Falls, Ont., Branch, May 26-28.

The sport, along with curling, had been suspended in 2016 while Dominion Command evaluated many of its programs prior to the June 2016 dominion convention in St. John’s, N.L. Both sports had failed in recent years to attract teams from all 10 commands. While delegates were willing to forego future curling bonspiels, they made it clear that they wanted eight-ball to continue.

Seven teams, from Alberta-Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia/Nunavut and Newfoundland and Labrador commands, arrived in Sturgeon Falls, 40 kilometres west of North Bay.

Situated on the Sturgeon River close to the falls, the branch is a two-storey facility that suits its branch of about 120 members.

Players were welcomed to the branch by West Nipissing Mayor Joanne Savage during the opening ceremony held on Saturday morning. Dominion Past President Tom Eagles, representing the Dominion Command Sports Committee, and Sturgeon Falls Branch President Gloria Lavallee, who was also chair of the Local Arrangements Committee, placed a wreath.

Two pool tables were used during the tournament. Each player on the four-man teams was assigned a division and played two rounds against a player in the same division in round robin format. To ensure that every player had a chance to play, players agreed to flip for the break in the first game and then the other player would break for the second game. With an odd number of teams, one team was given a bye in each round.

Dominion Command Sports Committee representative Tom Eagles congratulates singles winner Greg Gauthier.
Tom MacGregor

With no scoreboard posted, spectators could not tell which team was collecting the most points, though it was fairly clear who the stronger players were.

Alberta won the title in 2015. Returning to compete this year were Kim Bohnet and Ron Meier from Robertson Memorial Branch in Medicine Hat. This time their team was rounded out with Richard Stekelenburg and Terry Levesque from Drayton Valley Branch. However, Alberta was up against crack teams from New Brunswick and Ontario.

The New Brunswick team from Miramichi Branch consisting of Shawn Stewart, Greg Gauthier, Gerard Carroll and Danny Carroll also did well. The two Carroll brothers were on the New Brunswick team that played in 2015.

They were followed closely by the Ontario team of Matt Crawford, Collin Nobes, Tom Crawford and Tol Kuy from Col. Fred Tilston VC Branch in Aurora and Campbellford Branch.

The team for Labrador City Branch again represented Newfoundland and Labrador at the dominion level. Players Darcy Lowe and Carl Pike were on the team that took second place in the 2015 championships in Calgary. This time, they were playing with Pat Carrol and Perry Clarke.

“I think we have made Legion history with this championship,” said Eagles. “We have a team from Iqaluit representing Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command.”

The team of Jayko Ashoona, Norman Nowdluk, Tommy Ataguyuk and Paul Gordon from Iqaluit Branch in Nunavut came up through branch and zone finals in Nova Scotia to take the provincial championship and move on to dominion level.

Also competing was the team from Prince Edward Island of Kenneth Noonan, Curtis Gaudet, Joey Arsenault and Mario Henry, representing Tignish and Borden-Carleton branches and the team from Saskatchewan of Frosty Forrest, his son Willie Forrest, Leonard Grube and Alroy Yoner from Estevan Branch. Both teams had players who had reached the dominion level before.

Play was halted around 7 p.m. on Saturday to make way for branch supper and entertainment by a local disc jockey. By then each player had played four rounds and it was only then that the referees let players know where the teams stood.

Play resumed Sunday morning while the round robin played itself out. Officials still kept the results secret, although most players had figured out where they stood.

The judges still did not announce the winners when the competition for singles play was announced.

Kim Bohnet and Richard Stekelenburg of Alberta take the doubles championship.
Tom MacGregor

Shawn Stewart and Greg Gauthier of New Brunswick were up against Terry Levesque of Alberta and Norman Nowdluk of Nova Scotia/Nunavut. The two New Brunswick players emerged for a playoff, with Gauthier taking the championship and Stewart taking second place.

The competition then moved into doubles play. Again, it was New Brunswick with Gauthier and Stewart facing their archrivals of the weekend, Alberta. Alberta players Bohnet and Stekelenburg emerged the winners.

Then the tension was broken when it was announced that New Brunswick had indeed won the team championship. Alberta had come in second.

Gauthier said he started playing pool 25 years ago when he was growing up in Charlottetown, where his grandmother, Joyce Paynter, a Second World War veteran, is a prominent member of Charlottetown Branch. “I don’t play a whole lot. It’s more of a hobby,” he said.

For Bohnet, it was an exciting return to the dominion eight-ball championships. “I’ve been playing a long time,” he said. “I used to play snooker. I only started playing eight-ball in the 1990s when I joined the Legion.”

Nova Scotia/Nunavut was represented by Iqaluit Branch members (from left) Tommy Ataguyuk, Jayko Ashoona, Norman Nowdluk and Paul Gordon.
Tom MacGregor

Bohnet said he knew his teammates from playing at the Legion but they had come together as a team for the competition.

Everything wrapped up with a banquet with Eagles, assisted by Ontario Command District H Sports Officer Ken Faubert, presenting trophies and prizes to the winners. Eagles thanked Lavallee and her Local Arrangements Committee for the hospitality and meal and transportation provided throughout the weekend.

Eight-ball will continue in 2018, with Estevan, Sask., Branch hosting.

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