For the Northwest Territories women’s curling team, a shot at representing Canada at the World Women’s Curling Championship began and ended on the same day.
On Friday morning, a sweeping 8-6 win against Manitoba’s Team Zacharius led to a historic qualification for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts playoffs – a first for an all-NWT curling team.
In the afternoon, the team’s first game of the playoffs ended with a 8-6 loss to New Brunswick’s Team Crawford.
“I think I had over a hundred text messages when I got off the ice today,” team captain Kerry Galusha told Cabin Radio.
The emotional whirlwind really began on Tuesday morning, with a disappointing loss to BC’s Team Arsenault. To stay in the Tournament of Hearts, Team Galusha had to beat Alberta’s Team Walker.
Galusha said she knew the odds were stacked against them.
“We had had all day to ponder it,” she said. “Okay, we have to beat one of the top teams in the world right now. I don’t think I’ve ever beat Laura Walker before so I was like, ‘oh wow. This is going to be a really tough day for us.’”
But they didn’t want their shot at glory to end there.
“It was do or die. We had to win it and hope for Team Canada to beat Team Manitoba to force a tiebreaker,” Galusha said. “So we got really pumped and worked really hard to try and win that game. There’s just so much adrenaline.”
Within minutes of the final stone coming to rest, headlines proclaimed a win that surprised many, and brought national attention to Team Galusha.
Trying to get to sleep that night with mere hours until their 6 am preparations for the next game against Manitoba, was a challenge.
“I think my third, Sarah Koltun, only had a couple hours sleep. We knew today was going to be a battle,” Galusha said.
Despite the odds, the NWT team went on to make history. Less than an hour later, and well before the team had a chance to process their victory, they were back on the ice facing New Brunswick’s Team Crawford.
“It was crazy,” Galusha said. “Normally the afternoon games are at 2, but today they moved it up to 1 … We had 30 minutes to eat some lunch and sit down and then we were right back out there.”
For the first half, Team Galusha was controlling the game. Then, as the tiredness of the past 24 hours took over, a couple shots went awry.
“It was really just one or two shots here or there, but you can’t do that in a Scotties. The other team will jump all over you,” Galusha said. “And that’s what Andrea Crawford did. She played really well the last five ends and just made her shots when she needed to. And we battled, we really tried, but it just wasn’t enough.”
There’s been an outpouring of support for the northern team on social media. But for Galusha, the loss still stings.
“We’ve had hundreds of messages and everyone’s telling us how proud they are, and it does make us feel better. But knowing that we could still be playing right now, in the next playoff game… You know, when we were driving back to the hotel I said to the girls, ‘would it have felt better if we just got killed? If we had no chance of winning that game?’ Because honestly, we’re really disappointed.”
Overall, Galusha said the close-knit team had fun and made some long-lasting memories as well as curling history.
“We’re really proud to represent the North. Because we’re always the underdogs, we always have to work a little harder just to try and compete at this level, so we’re proud of our week.
“We wish things had gone our way in that New Brunswick game. But I think in a couple days we’ll have better perspective on it and realize just what we accomplished this week. We’ve been living in a bubble for the past 13 days, either sitting in our hotel or in the arena. So it’s been a long two weeks. We’re ready to come home.”