By Paul Wiecek – Winnipeg Free Press

MORRIS — And 21 years later, it was deja vu all over again.

Twice in 21 years, Prince Edward Island skip Robert Campbell has played in the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship. Both times, the event was held in Manitoba. Both times, Campbell made it to the final. Both times, he played the host province.

And both times, thanks to a 4-3 win over Brandon’s Terry McNamee in Saturday’s final at the Morris Curling Club, Campbell went home a Canadian mixed curling champion.

“Must be the water, I guess,” the 44-year-old Charlottetown skip laughed. “Fond memories. I barely remember Brandon (in 1989), but gathering around the trophy and taking pictures it really kicked in again… My team was really solid all week.

“They played well, they stuck with my decisions and my stupid line-calls at times and played really well in front of me.”

Campbell was supported by six-time P.E.I. women’s champion Rebecca Jean MacPhee, second Robbie Doherty and lead Jackie Reid. Two of the team’s four members will now go on to represent Canada at the World Mixed Doubles, April 15-24 in St. Paul, Minn.

It was a disappointing finish for McNamee, who was playing in his fourth Canadian Mixed.

The Brandon skip made it to the semifinal in two previous appearances, so Saturday’s appearance in the final was an improvement on those outings.

But it was small consolation, to be sure.

“It’s never nice winning second,” McNamee said, “but it’s better than winning third or fourth or fifth… We have a good team and we played well. And if we get back next time, maybe we’ll win it all.”

There should be some satisfaction for the Manitoba foursome — third Lana Hunter, second Allan Lawn and lead Lisa Blixhavn. The rink was outstanding early in the week and then overcame a three-game losing streak by rattling off impressive wins — 7-6 in a tiebreaker game Friday night over Ontario and then 8-3 in the semifinal Saturday morning over Nova Scotia — to advance to the final.

P.E.I. was the best team in Morris all week, finishing first in the round-robin at 10-1 and advancing straight to the final. Manitoba was the only team to beat P.E.I. in the round-robin and battled them hard again Saturday.

In a game where no one scored more than a single and both teams stole once — P.E.I. in the third when McNamee hit and rolled too far and Manitoba in the ninth when McNamee welded a Manitoba stone to the button — the difference came down to one rock in the 10th end.

Technically, McNamee lost the game on his last rock of the event — a low percentage double-raise takeout attempt that came nowhere near the target stone and handed Campbell the title without him having to throw his last rock.

But the game was actually lost one Manitoba stone earlier, when McNamee attempted to win the race to the four-foot with his first rock but crashed on a guard.

“If I make my first one on 10 here, we probably win,” McNamee said. “It just curled a little more than we thought. So, a 4-3 game, that’s not bad.”

And a 4-3 win in P.E.I.? That’s fantastic, said MacPhee. “This is going to be huge back home. We’ve had curling in the news all week. And with the (national) Scotties coming to Charlottetown (in February), it just brings curling right to the top of the sports page.”

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