Pahl beats odds

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

One of the timeless charms of curling is the fact there's no shortage of real-life, behind-the-scenes sagas of regular guys struggling to beat the odds.

There's always more than meets the eye than rocks sliding up and down the ice.

Real life. Real people.

Take the case of James Pahl and his team's 5-4 win over Shane Park in the A Event final of the men's northerns at the Ottewell Club.

Even before the playdowns season started, there was some doubt the James Gang could even ice a team.

His regular lead Warren Letendre loves kids and his wife is expecting the couple's third child about the time of the men's provincial in Wainwright, Feb. 11-15.

Third Mark Klinck had planned a two-week holiday in Arizona shortly after the team lost out in the city playdowns and would be unavailable for the Last Chance Spiel.

Second Roland Robinson, maybe too young to know the difference, never got discouraged with the grim situation and put together a plan.

When Robinson noticed Don Bartlett subbing for Kevin Martin at the Canada Cup qualifier, he figured Bartlett would be a great pinch-hitter for Letendre.

The rest is history.

Pahl, Robinson and Bartlett carried the ball at the Last Chance and with Klinck well-rested from his vacation, the team will roll into Wainwright on a six-game winning streak.

2005 BRIER

Bartlett and Pahl appeared at the 2005 Brier in Halifax together as front-enders for Kevin Martin.

"James has always been a great shooter ... I knew that playing with him that one year and playing against him a ton," said Bartlett, who's going to his first provincial since he retired after the 2006 Brier.

"I was really impressed with Mark. He was away in Phoenix, didn't throw a rock and he was a rock all weekend. Unbelievable the shots he made."

Pahl made the final four at the 2008 provincials and there's no question Bartlett's experience has given the team an added dimension.

"He probably won't retire now until his 60's," said Park about Bartlett's renewed form coming off last year's back operation.

"He changed James's calls about six times. He should be calling the game.

"I'm serious on that. Don came down and told James 'this is what Kevin Martin would do.' I'm not saying James isn't a smart skip, but there were situations out there where he was just baffled."

Pahl made no attempt to downplay how much of a difference Bartlett has made during the team's last two events.

"Lots," Pahl said. "He is, I tell you what, awesome. He's very calming. He never seems to get excited for any reason. I told Donny, even though he felt he was new to the team, we respect him.

"His knowledge of the game is so good, any insight he had would be beneficial for us.

"With Donny being there, we have a bit more experience and maybe we can do better. I would never disagree with anything Don says because he's respected."

CONFIDENT

Bottom-line, Pahl is on a roll now and has a much more confident team than he did when the situation looked hopeless just two weeks ago.

"We beat four pretty good teams here this weekend. You have to get on a roll no matter where you play and we got on a roll," said Pahl.

"We're feeling real good about ourselves right now. Considering we weren't even going to play at the start of the year and to have Rollie convince us we deserve a chance in this .

"We had fun and we came in with open minds. We knew if we lost, it wasn't going to be the end of the world."

Real life. Real people.


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