The host Kingswood Mooseheads knew they would have to bowl a a big number to knock off Lucky Strike on Saturday.
The Mooseheads did just that, outpinning the Massachusetts favourite 1,904 to 1,808 to win the 31st International Candlepin Championship on their home lanes, with 200 fans cheering every spare and strike.
Lucky Strike had a 75-13 round-robin record -- the best of 24 teams -- then eliminated MD's Maine Event 1,842 to 1,764 in one noon semifinal.
After going 62-26 in the round robin, Kingswood caught fire in the playoffs to earn $10,000 and bragging rights.
Lucky Strike takes $5,000 across the border.
The Mooseheads become the first New Brunswick team to take the title in 22 years -- matching host Fredericton Hanwell Lanes' 1993 feat.
They're also a true provincial champion since Calvin Locke, Corey Smith, Jamie Boyle and non-playing captain Corey Jones are from Fredericton; Eric McGuigan, Matt Cormier and Justin Jones from Moncton; Brian Bernatchez from Campbellton and Peter Kidney from Woodstock.
"I'm at a loss for words, really," Locke said. "What an awesome week with a great group of guys. We bowled so well today. I don't think anything could have stopped us."
"We've been bowling with and against each other for years and years now," McGuigan said. "It wasn't hard to come together as a team because we all knew each other already. It's been a long time since New Brunswick has won this title, so it's fantastic to do it again."
The Mooseheads knocked off Oakland Park Bowling Center 1,877 to 1,625 in the first playoff round Friday, then won three straight matches Saturday: 1,858 to 1,838 over Musquodoboit Big Shots at 9 a.m., 1,873 to 1,726 over MacLaughlin's Truck and Trailer of Halifax at noon - led by Locke's 445 tournament-high triple -- to hit the final with momentum.
Sparked by McGuigan leading off with a 162 single, Kingswood took the opening string by 37 pins, 661 to 624.
"Being lead off, you want to be as hot as possible off the top," said McGuigan, whose string featured two strikes and five spares.
Lucky Strike pulled even midway through the match but only ended up winning the second string by seven pins -- so still trailed by 30.
They soon trailed by a lot more.
Locke and Cormier both opened the deciding string with back-to-back spares, Justin Jones went strike-spare in the seventh and eighth, and McGuigan spared his last two frames to finish with a 398 triple.
Cormier checked in with 386, Jones 381, Locke 372 and Smith 367.
"All you can ask for is team consistency," McGuigan said. "With this team, we're all really talented. So when we all click together, it's exciting to watch."
Shawn Baker countered with a 389 for the team from Lynn, near Boston, while Dave Barber had a 370.
Dave Godwin, who had a tournament-best 128.8 average, was off the mark with strings of 109 and 104 while second-best Jeff Surette (126.6) struggled with a 101 in his only string.
That wasn't going to cut it with the Mooseheads on a mission.
"It's a long week," Baker said. "Everyone just puts everything they have into it every string. We came up a little short, but those guys bowled well. We've been bowling in this event for 20-odd years and this house was tough. You earned everything you got here. So for those guys to put up a 1,904, they deserved it.
"We got something going in the second string and made a run on them," Baker said. "Down 30, we were still confident but we got off to a real slow start in the third string and they got rolling,"
Baker didn't take much comfort in the team's $5K consolation prize.
"Most of us aren't here for the money. We're here to win the tournament title."
Locke (395), McGuigan (394) and Smith (393) paced the Mooseheads to their 20-pin win over Musquodoboit.
"That got us started," said Locke, whose career-best triple is 492. "Everybody was in the pocket. We were all smashing everything and we were behind each other 100 per cent."
In the final, Locke said "there were so many jitters going on in the first couple boxes. I told myself 'Calm down, relax,' and I got going again after that. Hats off to Lucky Strike. They bowled well all week, but we came up big when it mattered."
McGuigan said the Mooseheads fed off the fan support.
"The home crowd definitely helps. I'm sure if we were in the States it would have benefitted them just as much as it benefitted us."
Moncton Fairlanes (44-44) missed the playoffs by two points while New Brunswick's third entry, the Kingswood Vipers, went 26-62.
BRUCE HALLIHAN, THE DAILY GLEANER