Team Knapp has been on the radar of Saskatchewan curling for years, but the club from the Highland Club in Regina stepped into the spotlight at this year’s SaskTel Tankard. The team went undefeated through the event, and in the final faced Steve Laycock, a veritable legend in provincial curling, taking the Tankard with a 5-4 win at Estevan’s Affinity Place on Sunday.
Knapp’s twin brother Trent throws lead stones, Brennan Jones plays third, and veteran Mike Armstrong plays second. The Knapp Brothers have been lifelong allies in the sport, and the payoff after all this time is remarkable, said Kelly.
Kelly Knapp had played lead for years, but admitted that he wanted more input on a team and felt he had what it took to handle the pressure of throwing the last stone. Indeed, it was a final takeout that made the difference, as he wrestled last end hammer from Laycock.
The teams stayed close throughout the game, jockeying back and forth in the scoring. Knapp used last rock advantage in the 8th to pull a point ahead. In the 9th, a heavy draw by Laycock cinched the game at a tie, and that handed hammer to Knapp, who used it for the win in the final end.
"It's honestly a little surreal right now...it's going to have to sink in for sure," said Knapp following the game. "To be honest with you, I knew we were going to have a good week here, but you still don't really think or believe you'll be hoisting the trophy at the end, especially when you haven't done it before."
"It's just super, super special."
Knapp will make his first Brier appearance during the London, ON competition running from March 3-12.
(with files from Nolan Kowal)