Dean Ross was stepping onto the ice at North Hill Curling Club yesterday afternoon and couldn't get one game out of his mind.
It was Jan. 21, 2002, and the Calgary skip was playing Mickey Pendergast of the Winter Club in the B final of the southern men's curling playdowns.
Ross won 6-5, thanks to Pendergast throwing heavy on a draw against four in the seventh end, and earned his first trip to provincials.
"Yeah, that went through my head," Ross said yesterday, after beating Pendergast 7-6 in the 2006 edition of the southerns.
"One shot in that game, Mickey was heavy on a draw and we stole two or three to put us up by four.
"Just one shot, it seems like every time we play those guys it's the turning point."
Up 2-1 going into the fourth, Pendergast was heavy on a draw to protect the button and left Ross with a draw for three.
Ross wrecked on the guard and settled for two but it seemed to give the Calgary skip the mental edge.
"It's so tough out there," he said. "The ice is just so straight and any kind of wrong movement with the release, it won't work out for you.
"That stuff happens."
Ross ran into some trouble in the late ends but crucial shots by lead Joel Matthews, second Aaron Westgard and third Greg Northcott saved the day.
Not bad for an all-new team.
Although Ross is headed for his second provincials -- the Kia Cup is set for the Saville Centre in Edmonton, Feb. 8-12 -- he's going with a different look.
Last spring, he told his old mates he wanted to amp up his competitive game. They weren't in for that.
"I was kind of on my own and out of options," Ross said. "But Greg happened to phone me up in April and we hooked up.
"It's worked out well."
Ross and A qualifier John Morris of the Winter Club await the C qualifier from today's 1:30 p.m. draw to round out the south's representation. The C semifinals (Pendergast vs. Steve Petryk and Sterling Hansen vs. Terry DeValter) go at 9:30 a.m.
The Kia Cup draw is already northern heavy with byes going to Randy Ferbey (defending champ), Kevin Martin (CTRS Alberta leader), Mark Johnson (Alberta tour winner) and Ryan Keane (Alberta tour runner-up).
With three NACA berths, it looks tough for a provincial title to land in the little ol' south.
"Well, we're going to do our best," said Ross. "We haven't played Martin this year but we've played Ferbey. We had the game won if we made our last shot and we missed it.
"We played Johnson twice and beat him once. So, we're close.
"Both teams have eight rocks. We'll just see what happens. Hopefully, there will be a little more movement on the ice than we had here and we have a little more of a finesse game."
NACA's A berth was decided late Saturday when Brent MacDonald beat Jamie King 8-5. The B final was last night between King and Ted Appelman.