Gobeil eyes national police crown

If experience is the key to victory, then Scott Gobeil’s Fort Frances rink should be in good shape heading into the annual National Police Curling Championships which start this Saturday in Halifax.
Gobeil will be making his sixth trip in seven years to the nationals while this marks number nine for second Don Robertson. Third Jeff Simpkins is making his third trip there and this will be the second appearance for lead Dave Jones.
Not a bad résumé for a rink, which will be looking to oust defending champion Garth Mitchell of P.E.I., who they’ll meet in the third draw of the round-robin on Sunday night.
Gobeil will open action Saturday against New Brunswick, then face B.C. on Sunday afternoon.
Getting to the nationals hasn’t proven that tough a task for the Fort Frances foursome–but winning it all is a different story. Gobeil and Robertson have just one national title, which came back in 1996 in the friendly confines of the local curling club with skip Clint Barton.
Gobeil said their national experience should help them advance to the playoff round at Halifax but admitted he was a tad concerned they haven’t curled together as a unit in the new year.
“Yeah, it helps, but we haven’t curled together since December,” said Gobeil, who was selected as the all-star third at the nationals here in ’96.
“But I don’t know many teams that have [played a lot together].”
“Oh, [experience] definitely helps,” echoed Robertson. “We’ve all been there before and have played together.”
Last year, the foursome racked up a 9-2 record in the round-robin but was ousted in the semi-finals by Manitoba.
Gobeil said he’s not too concerned about not making the playoffs, which will follow the Page system (allowing the top four teams in) for the first time.
It’s what they do in the playoffs that will be the difference.
“I think 7-4 will get you in with the Page system but I’ve never gone less than 8-3. I hope to get at least 8-3 this year,” he remarked.
To finish with that type of record, Gobeil’s rink will have to beat the teams they’re supposed to–the ones that routinely finish at .500 or lower year after year.
If they do that, and then manage to knock off the top teams early, they can grab a full head of steam heading into the playoffs.
“In other years, we usually lose one game to a [lesser-talented] team, but, yeah, it would help us out if we could knock off one of the bigger teams.
“It definitely helps you out.”
Round-robin action continues through next Thursday, with any tie-breakers slated for Friday morning.
The quarter-finals are scheduled for next Friday afternoon, with the semi-finals and final set for Saturday.