Robertson honoured to be part of 2023 class
Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame
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During the 2022 Christmas season, Kelly Robertson got some news over the phone that he had to keep under wraps for a couple of weeks.
His 2011 Canadian senior men’s curling championship team — which featured Doug Armour, Peter Prokopowich and Bob Scales — is part of this year’s Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame induction class.
When the squad is officially enshrined during Sunday’s ceremony at the Victoria Inn, they will become the first Hall of Fame team from the Neepawa Curling Club.
“It’s quite an honour that the committee thought highly enough of our team and felt that we were worthy of going in alongside some of the best teams Manitoba has ever had,” Robertson said.
Robertson, Prokopowich and Scales are all first-time inductees, while Armour was inducted for his individual accolades in 2006.
Armour’s masters rink that won the 2005 national championship in Brandon will also be honoured during Sunday’s ceremony.
The Robertson senior squad came together over the course of a few seasons. Armour and Prokopowich played together until Robertson was eligible for the senior ranks in 2008, with Bob joining in 2011.
The quartet went on an impressive run on the Manitoba senior scene as they won provincial men’s titles in 2011, 2012 and 2014. They also reached the provincial final in 2013 but lost to Bob Sigurdson.
“It all just seemed to click right away for us,” Robertson said. “You can have the four best guys on the ice sometimes and it just doesn’t work, but if you get the chemistry going … everything just sort of falls into place.
“We were a consistent team that made a lot of shots. Our games were usually close, but we never gambled a lot and we never seemed to get into too much trouble.”
After their first provincial title, the Robertson rink travelled to Digby, N.S. in March 2011 for the Canadian seniors.
The Manitoba squad finished first in round-robin play with an 11-1 record to earn a bye to the final, where they beat Alberta’s Brad Hannah by a score of 7-5.
“What I remember the most about that week was how well we all played on the arena ice,” Robertson said. “Some of the teams there hadn’t played in that environment before, but we had a little bit of a head start on the field as we were all used to that from the provincials in Manitoba over the years.”
Another highlight for the team came when they landed in Winnipeg.
“I remember the pilot on our plane announcing our team and there was quite a crowd waiting for us,” Robertson said. “When we got back to Neepawa, everyone welcomed us with open arms. It was quite an experience.”
A year later, Robertson and his teammates represented Canada at the world senior championships in Tårnby, Denmark.
After winning their group with a 6-0 record, the Neepawa rink beat Scotland’s Keith Prentice in the quarterfinal and Sweden’s Connie Östlund in the semifinal before losing the final a 6-5 extra end affair to Ireland’s John Jo Kenny in the final.
“It was a game that we probably should have won, but it didn’t work out for us that day,” Robertson said of the final, which saw Ireland steal a point to complete an undefeated week.
“It was an experience of a lifetime for us. We made a bit of a holiday out of it and we explored the country before and after the tournament, but it was all business once we started playing.
“To play against different countries and hear all the different languages was pretty neat. There may have been some weaker teams there, but once the playoffs came around, everyone just came alive and stepped up their game a little bit.”
Prior to their trip to the worlds in 2012, the team returned to the Canadian championships in Abbotsford, B.C. and finished in sixth place with a 6-5 record.
They returned to the final at the 2014 nationals in Yellowknife and reached the final, but lost a 9-8 matchup with Nova Scotia’s Alan O’Leary.
The rink made one final appearance at the provincials in 2019 to post an overall record of 84-24 in senior men’s play.
“All four of us keep in touch and talk all the time,” said Robertson, who will be at the ceremony with his teammates.
“We were one of those teams that all got along when we played and we’re still pretty good friends off the ice.”
» Twitter: @lpunkari