Stacking them up

Al Hackner is now a two-time Canadian masters curling champion.

Al Hackner and Frank Morissette are Canadian champions again.

On Sunday in Winnipeg, Hackner’s Northern Ontario rink with Morissette at second, Eric Harnden from Sault Ste. Marie at third and Bruce Munro from Sudbury at lead won the national masters men’s curling title.

The Northern Ontario squad defeated Saskatchewan’s Gord Bell 7-6 in the final of the national event for curlers age 60 and over. Hackner, who led 7-4 playing the eighth and final end, had an open hit against three Saskatchewan counters unguarded in the rings and the veteran skip made no mistake to secure the championship.

It is not a shot you leave for a two-time former world champion. However, Hackner must have had some nerves thinking back to the 2019 final against Mickey Pendergast of Alberta when the curler known as the Iceman had his rock pick.

Not this time. Hackner was on the money for the championship win.

Hackner, 68, and Morissette, 71, have now won two Canadian masters titles together their first in 2017 with the same team, and the same lineup that has been together for five years.

Hackner is tied with former teammate and longtime friend Rick Lang as the Thunder Bay curler with the most national trophies to their credit.

Hackner and Lang won Canadian men’s Brier crowns as teammates in 1982 and 1985 and then again, together they won the Canadian seniors in 2006.

In all three championship wins, Hackner skipped with Lang as his reliable third with the duo going on to win two world men’s titles and a silver at the senior worlds.

Lang won his first Brier title with Bill Tetley back in 1975 and skipped his Northern Ontario team with his wife Lorraine to the Canadian mixed title in 1981.

Hackner, who has skipped teams to five national titles, says even at his age winning doesn’t get old.

“A provincial title is special no matter how many I’ve won, but a Canadian championship win so much harder,” said the popular local skip now in his sixth decade of competitive curling.

“Therefore extra special,” added Hackner pointing to the fact it is a week-long competition where you have to be on your game, game in and game out plus the pressure of winning two elimination games and a one-game showdown for the championship.

Hackner’s Northern Ontario were dominant in Winnipeg, posting an overall record of 11-1 with there only loss coming in a wild high-scoring affair with Manitoba’s Murray Warren, who went on to win the bronze medal.

Hackner and Morissette in three Canadian Masters’ appearances representing Northern Ontario have two championship banners and a silver medal to their credit.

Peggy Taylor’s Kenora-based rink represented Northern Ontario on the women’s side of the competition finished with a 3-5 record.

Hackner and Morissette will relish the same competitive pressure in two weeks time when they head to Nova Scotia for the Everest Canadian senior championships. The two ageless shooters will be joined by a younger duo of Rob Sinclair Jr. and Gary Champagne on the front at the event in Yarmouth, N.S., that runs Dec. 2-10.

Tracey Larocque, who won the women’s Canadian curling club title last season, will skip her Fort William Curling Club entry at the senior women’s event in Yarmouth. Larocque’s team is made up of Taylor, Lisa Penner and Deanna Hicklin.

CANADIAN CLUBS: Two other Thunder Bay rinks skipped by Ben Mikkelsen and Jodi Judd will be trying to bring home Canadian titles this week from Edmonton.

The two Port Arthur Curling Club teams opened play Monday in the Albert capital after the national championship for club curlers was delayed due to an ice plant problem at West Edmonton Mall Ice Palace.

Mikkelsen and his rink of Greg Doran, Mark Blanchard, Devin Doran and alternate Chris Briand opened play with two wins on Monday 6-5 over Saskatchewan and 9-4 over Prince Edward Island.

Mikkelsen, who won a bronze medal at this event in 2018, is looking to take it two steps further this week looking to make the championship round.

Meanwhile Judd and her rink of Judy Bouchard, Kelli Beda-Stevenson, Tracey Berry and alternate Rhanda Doran have the envious task of following in the footsteps of Larocque’s success. Team Judd lost their opener 12-2 to Saskatchewan.

Curling fans can follow results online on the Curling Canada website with a number of games being live streamed on You Tube.

MAJOR LEAGUE TONIGHT: The TBayTel Major League of Curling resumes with an early draw at the Port Arthur Curling Club tonight at 6:30 p.m.

Team Trevor Bonot now tops the standings heading into Draw 7 off the local competitive league after they beat the previous front-runners — Team Hackner — last week.

Bonot battles Bryan Burgess while Team Hackner takes on the Dallas Burgess squad.

Team Adams, also in the midst of the fight for first-place, faces the Denis Malette foursome.

Team Nicole Westlund-Stewart and Team Jodi Judd (with spares) face tough men’s opponents as two teams use the major league to prep for the Scotties playdowns.

Westlund-Stewart draws Kory Carr while Judd is matched against Ron Rosengren

In other games, Krista McCarville has a showdown with Dylan Johnston and Team Gary Weiss take on a replacement squad for Team Mikkelsen.

GREY CUP WINNERS: As per posts on Facebook, the Dylan Johnston rink of Brennan Wark and Jordan Potter were the winners of the Grey Cup Bonspiel held on the weekend at the Port Arthur Curling Club.

No other results were available.

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