Men's playdowns set for Friday
By John Cameron
It is time to perform for Hackner, Currie, Burgess, Bonot, Assad and Johnston as the six local rinks begin the journey to represent Northern Ontario at the Tim Horton’s Brier set for Edmonton in March.
Three spots to the Northern Ontario Men’s Curling Championship to be held Nipigon Feb. 6- 10 are up for grabs this weekend as the West regional qualifier gets underway at 3 p.m. on Friday at the Port Arthur Curling Club.
The round-robin playdown continues with games on Saturday and Sunday including tiebreakers if necessary.
The full draw is posted at www.curlnoca.ca.
Provincial contenders: Al Hackner, at age 57, has shown this year that he still has game and will be a favourite to advance.
The veteran skip and his rink of Kory Carr, Kris Leupen and Gary Champagne have had a good year.
Hackner won two bonspiels on the Great Lakes Curling Tour this year including the Courtesy Freight Northern Ontario Superspiel here in Thunder Bay, while they, along with Jeff Currie, have posted the top records in the Tbaytel Men’s Major League of Curling earning first-round playoff byes.
Hackner has indicated that this may be his final Brier run and would like nothing more than to end his illustrious men’s career with a run for the Northern Ontario title in his hometown of Nipigon.
Currie and his talented crew of Mike McCarville, Colin Koivula and Jamie Childs are expected to qualify this weekend.
However, Bryan Burgess and Trevor Bonot are back with almost the same lineups that qualified for last year’s provincial in Sault Ste. Marie.
Burgess added the experienced Mike Pozihun at third this year with Dale Wiersema and Pat Berezowski strong on the front end.
Bonot, along with teammates Al Macsemchuk and Chris Briand, have committed time to competitive play and practice this year, and with addition of Mike Baduik at lead, will be in the mix for one of the three spots.
The Dylan Johnston and Mike Assad rinks are capable of knocking off any of the other four rinks, plus the two teams also sport players who have competed at the provincials before.
It should make for an interesting and entertaining weekend of curling with fans invited to come out and watch.
Teams eliminated this weekend will have two other chances to qualify with two challenge rounds open to all teams from across Northern Ontario slated for Espanola and Keewatin in coming weekends.
Major league tonight: Joe Scharf and his rink of Trevor Clifford, Aaron Skillen and Bill Peloza are not in the playdowns this weekend, but will be in the spotlight tonight as Tbaytel Men’s Major League of Curling wraps up round-robin play with Draw 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Port Arthur Curling Club.
The Scharf rink, with a 7-7 record, can create a mess of tiebreakers if they can post a win over the Gary Weiss foursome.
Weiss, along with Art Lappalainen at 8-6, can clinch the final two spots in the six-team playoff with wins tonight.
Lappalainen draws Ashley Kallos, who at 4-10 will be out to play spoiler.
Rinks skipped by Al Hackner and Jeff Currie, with 11-3 records, are guaranteed to finish first and second, while Bryan Burgess and Trevor Bonot have secured the third and fourth playoff spots with 10-4 marks.
Burgess and Bonot play each other, but this game is more of a tuneup of this weekend’s competition.
Rinks skipped by Krista McCarville and Dylan Johnston are two other rinks at 7-7, who need to post wins and then get help from either Scharf or Kallos to make a tiebreaker.
Johnston faces a tough test against Hackner, while McCarville takes on Zach Warkentin at 4-10.
The Warkentin rink will be using the game as they continue their preparation for the Canadian Junior Curling Championships after they won the Northern Ontario junior men’s title in Kapuskasing last weekend.
You can follow the Tbaytel Major League results and the live steam game between Bonot and Burgess at www.majorleaguecurling.com.
Tickets for provincials: Tickets for the Dominion Northern Ontario men’s provincial are now on sale.
The prices are reasonable: $5 for a single game, $10 for a full day and $40 for the full event.
Tickets are available at Rexall Pharmacy Nipigon, Pelletier’s Gas Bar Lake Helen Reserve, the Port Arthur Curling Club and the Fort William Curling Club.
Dominion club playdowns: The Dominion Canadian Club Curling Championships come to Thunder Bay in November with the Fort William Curling Club to host the national championships for club curlers.
Curling clubs across Northern Ontario are holding competitions to determine club champions for the six regional playdowns to the Northern Ontario Dominion Club Championships slated for Sault Ste. Marie at the Soo Curlers April 4-7.
Some clubs have already declared their representatives with others to host club playoffs for men’s and women’s representatives in the coming weeks.
FWCC championships: The Susan Lammi rink of Kate Bes, Annie Burke and Susan Childs will represent the Fort William Curling Club at the Region 2 playoff with the Port Arthur and Kakabeka clubs in March.
The Lammi rink, the defending region champions, won the Fort William Business Women’s League playoff in a one-game final defeating the Erin Manahan squad 6-1 this past weekend.
The Manahan rink included Corie Adamson throwing skip rocks along with Marcy Barry and Tricia Sampson.
Thirteen of the 18 teams are still alive as the Fort William Men’s Club Championship continues with games tonight including two A-side semifinals. Rob Champagne plays Gary Whitney, while Brian Walford takes on Don Lammi.
There are eight teams left on the B side with the losers of these games out: Darryl Cambly faces Lorne Coombs, Harvey Loewen meets Mike Woznesensky, Alf Childs takes on Earl Cohill and Don Spakowski will try to advance against Franco Gorenszach.
Around the clubs: The Fort William Curling Club will host an Open Stick Curling Tournament on Saturday starting at noon.
The fun, afternoon event is open to all interested persons of all ages.
Curling sticks will be provided with no stick curling experience needed, so find a partner and sign up. Entry fee is $30 per team ($15 per curler) which includes a meal and prizes.
For more information contact Jan Hlady 624-6954 or Dave Kawahara 628-3958.
John Cameron’s curling column appears Wednesdays. If you have news on upcoming ’spiels or bonspiel results in Northwestern Ontario, contact John at email@example.com.