WETASKIWIN -- A huge sigh of relief came out of James Pahl's mouth.
"Ugh, what a road!" said Paul about his rocky weekend.
His team had just won its third straight game, a 6-3 decision over Jamie King in the C Event final of the men's northerns.
"I've never had a whirlwind like this," said Pahl. "It was something I've never experienced before."
Not only did he have to regroup after being clobbered 7-0 in two ends early Saturday by eventual B Event winner Kevin Koe, but he had to adjust on the fly.
"I've never played short games in a bonspiel like that before," said Pahl. "There was a two-ender and a four-end game (5-0 win over Chris Schille in the semi)."
Pahl has now skipped his team to three straight provincials, losing last year's semi-final to Randy Ferbey.
After going undefeated at the zone level last month, Pahl's luck ran out.
His regular third, Mark Klinck, informed the skip a week before the northerns that he was unable to be with the team. Pahl managed to convince veteran Mark Johnson to take his place.
Facing elimination after the loss to Koe, Pahl decided to switch up his lineup, moving lead Don Bartlett to second and Roland Robinson back to lead.
"Once we made the lineup change, we got the ball rolling in C," said Pahl. "It seemed to work. We were struggling. We needed to shake things up. I guess you could say it worked."
Pahl knew he had to do something to change the team's chemistry.
"We weren't playing well," he said. "Even though we were winning, we weren't playing well. We were still trying to catch onto the ice.
"It was difficult playing conditions. We just had to do something different and it paid off."
Having a couple of veteran players like Bartlett and Johnson delivering back-to-back rocks seems to steady the ship.
"Donnie played really well at second," said Pahl.
"Not that Rollie couldn't have. We did what it took to win and that's the decision we made.
"It's nice to get back in. I'm sure Olds will put on a good show (for provincials). I'm really looking forward to it. You can't win if you don't get there."
Klinck will be available for Olds, and that's left Pahl in a bit of a conundrum.
"We're going to talk," said Pahl. "We're going to see what Mark's (Johnson) schedule is like with his senior team. Mark knew what his role was coming in.
"We've all talked about it and it's only fair that the five of us get together and iron something out because boy oh boy, he played well and I really think he deserves to continue with us.
"By the same token, Mark (Klinck) does as well. We have a five-man team going in and this is the way we're going to go.
"Experience really helps. Having Mark out there with Donnie definitely helped with the shot calling."
Which team will show at Olds? Stay tuned.