Northerns start today

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By John Cameron
It has been 10 years since a rink from Thunder Bay has represented Northern Ontario at the Brier. Will the Scott Henderson jinx be broken this weekend? Henderson along with Art Lappalainen, Mike Desilets and Tim Lindsay wore green-and-gold at the 2003 Halifax Brier.
Thunder Bay hopes rest with teams skipped by Trevor Bonot, Jeff Currie, Bryan Burgess and Al Hackner as the nine-rink competition for the Dominion Cup — the Northern Ontario Men’s Curling Championship — getd underway today in Nipigon with two draws at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The players on all four Thunder Bay rinks have experience playing at the provincials with most competing at last year’s event in Sault Ste. Marie.
The full draw and rosters of all nine teams are listed at www.curlnoca.ca.

Jacobs rink the favourite: The Brad Jacobs rink from Sault Ste. Marie is the favourite to repeat as four-time defending champs.
The Jacobs rink that includes new third Ryan Fry with the Harnden boys — E.J. and Ryan — on the front end are ranked eighth on the World Curling Tour with $236,000 this year.
Three of the four Thunder Bay rinks are in action in today’s opening draw 2:30 p.m. at the Nipigon Arena with hometown hero Hackner and his rink of Kory Carr, Kris Leupen and Gary Champagne having a first-round bye.
Mike McCarville will move from third to skip calling the shots for the Jeff Currie rink in their opener against former two-time Northern Ontario champ Mike Jakubo of Sudbury. Currie is expected to miss the first three draws.
Cody Johnston has now replaced Joe Scharf as the fifth with Scharf unable to play due to work commitments himself. Johnston will step in to play second complimenting Colin Koivula at third and Jamie Childs at lead.
Bryan Burgess and his Port Arthur Curling Club rink of Mike Pozihun, Dale Wiersema and Pat Berezowski draw Rob Gordon’s senior squad from Sudbury in their opener.
Gordon, of course, won the Brier trip back in 2006, when Nipigon last hosted the Northern Ontario championship.
Trevor Bonot looks to get off to a quick start in his second trip to the provincial men’s championship at skip, when they draw Matt Dumontelle and his team from New Liskeard. Bonot lines up with Al Macsemcuk, Chris Briand and Mike Badiuk.
The top three teams after round-robin play is completed on Saturday morning will advance to the playoffs.
The first place team will earn a bye to the final Sunday to be played at 9:30 a.m. or 2:30 p.m., pending tiebreakers. The second and third place teams will meet in the semifinal Saturday at 7:30 p.m. or Sunday at 9:30 a.m.

Northern notes: Al Hackner is playing in his 15th and may be his last men’s provincial in his hometown of Nipigon.
I wonder who will be the fan favourite? Hackner last won a trip to the Brier in 2001, and skipped the last Northern Ontario rink to win the Canadian championship back in 1985.
Hackner and the members of Jacobs rink are not the only members of the Purple Heart Club with members of the Mike Jakubo, Rob Gordon and Matt Dumontelle rinks also part of the Brier club.
Jeff Currie and Ryan Fry have a rivalry that dates back to 1996, when Currie beat the then-Manitoba skip to win the Canadian junior title. Currie and Fry meet in the Friday morning draw.
Tickets for all draws of the Dominion Cup will be available at the door. You can purchase a weekend package for $40 or pay $5 a draw or $10 a day.

Northern Ontario bantams: The Northern Ontario Bantam titles will be decided this weekend with the boys competition in Longlac and the girls event slated for Sioux Lookout.
The Port Arthur rink, who went undefeated in the Region 2 playdowns, will be without their skip Mackenzie Joblin when they open play in the seven-rink boys event Thursday in Longlac.
Joblin is competing this week at the Canadian junior championships in Fort McMurray, Alta., as the second on Matt Roberts’ Northern Ontario team.
Christopher Perozak, Ryan McClendon, Josh Liggins and Connor Lawes face Sault Ste. Marie’s Benjarmin Manary in their round-robin opener.
There are also two teams from the district vying for the Northern Ontario title with the Jaron Hoppe rink from Keewatin and Chris Silver foursome from Fort Frances taking part.
It is an eight-team competition at the provincial girls event in Sioux Lookout.
The Jenny Keetch rink of Kylie McClendon, Katherine Roberts and Rikki Lee Baca from the Port Arthur Curling Club face the Jenna Poirier rink from the host Sioux Lookout club in their opener Thursday.
The Poirier rink, that includes Kacie Ransom, Taylor Edmond, Cassidy Romyn and fifth Ashlyn Fukushima, may be the pre-tournament favourite playing on their home ice. The Isabelle Ouellet rink from Longlac and the Hannah Bazinet foursome from Atikokan are the two other regional rinks looking to win a Northern Ontario banner this weekend.
The complete listing of teams, the draw and game results are available at www.curlnoca.ca.

Senior results: Al Hackner will make another run at the Northern Ontario senior men’s title when the men’s and women’s provincial championships for curlers over 50 gets underway in Geraldton Feb. 21 to Feb. 24.
Hackner and his rink of Eric Harnden, John Salo, Al Laine and fifth Brian Adams swept their best-of-three playoff with Art Lappalainen to claim the Region 2 title this past weekend at Fort William Curling Club.
Hackner posted wins of 7-1 and 11-5 to best Lappalainen, whose lineup included Ron Rosengren, Mike Pozihun and Larry Rathje.
In Geraldton, the Edgar Carreira rink of Norman Kristjanson, Kurt Pristanski and Bill Assad won the Region 3 senior men’s berth besting clubmates Claude Beaulieu, Clarke Brown, Ernie Michon and Andre Poulin in a playoff that required all three games.
It should be noted the Rob Gordon and his Sudbury rink also won a spot in their playdown and will be back looking for a return trip to the senior nationals which are slated March 16-24 in Summerside, P.E.I.
Gordon and his rink of Ron Henderson, Dion Dumontelle and Doug Hong will also be on the ice in Nipigon this week, looking to win the Northern Ontario men’s title, a championship that Gordon won the last time the men’s provincial was hosted in Nipigon back in 2006.

Jones wins Super Bowl: The Karlee Jones rink won the Super Bowl Bonspiel this past weekend at the Port Arthur Curling Club. Jones returned home to skip her rink to victory in the A-event final over Mike Rubenick and his squad with 56 teams in the always popular football weekend event. Paul Carr (B event), Connor Lawes (C event) and Bruce Mascemchuk (D event) also collected victories.

John Cameron’s curling column appears Wednesdays. If you have news on upcoming ’spiels or bonspiel results in Northwestern Ontario, contact John at jocamero@tbaytel.net or call 623-3135.