Skip: Kerry Burtnyk, Third: Jeff Ryan, Second: Rob Meakin, Lead: Keith Fenton.
It was the kind of season most curlers can only dream of, capped off by what has been referred to as "the shot heard round the world." But it did not start out that way.
Very little went right for Winnipeg Skip Kerry Burtnyk and his new teammates during the first few months of the 1994-95 on-ice campaign. Bonspiel after bonspiel, they were relegated to the sidelines early, limping home with empty pockets and shattered expectations.
But as the calendar clicked over to 1995, the team’s fortunes took a miraculous twist for the better, and Burtnyk’s crew would go on to carve out its own special chunk of curling history. It began with a terrific run at the annual MCA ‘spiel, as the foursome racked up 14 wins and just one loss to win the Eaton Trophy and a coveted berth at the provincial men’s championship. The quartet carried the success through to the Safeway Select in Winnipeg, the Canadian Brier in Halifax and the World Championships in Brandon, with Burtnyk delivering a perfect double-takeout with his final stone before nearly 6,000 anxious fans at the Keystone Centre to knock off Scotland’s Gordon Muirhead in the final.
“With that 1995 team, the most significant memory for me was going from the depths of despair during the first half of the curling season to the absolute ultimate of the sport,” Burtnyk recalled. “I had the privilege of playing with three very special individuals. Even when I was at my lowest, with no confidence in myself, they found a way to pump me back up. It was that spirit of camaraderie that makes me really proud of the things we accomplished in ‘95.”
The Burtnyk team went 11-0 at the championships to give Manitoba its first men’s world crown since Orest Meleschuk in 1972. “For me, winning the big one was a dream come true,” said Rob Meakin. “And to accomplish it with those guys was just amazing. We knew we had the chemistry. We had the idea that it would all work out for us. But I don’t know if any of us could have imagined we’d go that far. Sometimes, I still can’t believe it.”