Hope

The Bearskin Airlines Hope Classic charity curling bonspiel had raised money for cancer research for the past 25 years.

The Thunder Bay curling season heads into the third week of play as we close out the month of October in what has been a busy start to the season, especially at the Fort William Curling Club.

Last weekend, the FWCC hosted 46 women’s teams in the 25-year finale to the Bearskin Airlines Hope Classic. Sadly, organizers announced the run was the end for the popular charity fundraiser that raised just over $3.5 million for local breast cancer research and established the Linda Buchan Centre at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

It is the legacy left from what was an amazing event featuring local women curlers collecting pledges and fundraising for a quarter of a century. Congratulations to Sue Childs and her amazing committee and Cliff Friesen from Bearskin Airlines for being the title sponsor for all 25 years ensuring the event was a success year after year. The final event raised just over $121,000.

Now the Fort William club is getting set for another big event with the World Series Bonspiel, Nov. 4-6. The ’spiel, sponsored by Dog Lake Resort, is full with 32 teams signed up to play.

PREPPING FOR SCOTTIES: It was not the early fall start Team Krista McCarville, the reigning Scotties silver medalists may have wanted as they wrapped up their second Grand Slam of Curling event in Grande Prairie, Alta., last week.

McCarville finished with one win in four qualifying games to missing the playoffs in the Tier 2 group of the Tour Challenge, a similar result to their first Slam event in North Bay two weeks earlier.

McCarville and her rink of Kendra Lilly, Ashley Sippala, Sarah Potts and fifth Jennifer Gates will now turn their sites to prepare for another run to represent Northern Ontario at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

“0ur goal is to win our provincial in Kenora, then to carry it through to the Scotties in Kamloops,” said the veteran skip who will celebrate her 40th birthday in early November.

Kenora will host both the women’s and men’s Northern Ontario championships, Jan. 24-29 with the two combined events cancelled due to the pandemic last year.

Team McCarville is currently ranked 19th in the world women’s rankings.

The rink is planning to play two other spiels later this fall, including the Mesabi Classic in Eveleth, Minn., in early December.

BOUND FOR MIXED NATIONALS: Meanwhile, Mike McCarville, Krista’s husband, will be in the national spotlight as a member of Team Trevor Bonot heading to Saskatchewan where they will once again represent Northern Ontario at Canadian mixed curling championship.

The country’s top four-person mixed curling teams will compete for the chance to represent Canada at the world mixed championship Nov. 6 -13.

Bonot’s Fort William Curling Club foursome — made up of his sister Jackie McCormick from Stratton at third, McCarville at second and Amanda Gates at lead — will open play on Nov. 6 in Prince Albert, Sask. The Northern Ontario champions will face a tough test in their opener of pool play as they draw Brier veteran Jamie Koe of the Territories.

Local curling fans can come out and show their support for Team Bonot as the Fort William club will host a team send off party on Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. It should be a special night with a return engagement by local crooners, The Icicles.

ANOTHER SEND-OFF: The Port Arthur Curling Club will host a send-off party on Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. for Team Ben Mikkelsen and Team Jodi Judd. The two rinks are headed to Edmonton to compete at the Canadian curling club championships. The national event for club curlers is being held at the West Edmonton Mall’s Ice Palace from Nov. 20-26.

MAJOR LEAGUE TONIGHT: Al Hackner, Trevor Bonot, Brian Adams Jr. and Krista McCarville will be out to run their unbeaten records to three wins when the TbayTel Major League of Curling resumes with a Draw 3 start at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Port Arthur Curling Club.

Bonot and Adams Jr. meet in a showdown of two rinks looking to maintain their first place ranking while Hackner is also tied for top spot with six points. He will face Jodi Judd.

Team McCarville is back with a full lineup looking to build on a shootout win from last week for a third-straight win when they draw Bryan Burgess. In other games, Dylan Johnston faces Nicole Westlund-Stewart, Gary Weiss plays Denis Malette, Dallas Burgess battles Ron Rosengren, while Kory Carr is matched against Ben Mikkelsen.

NEW, FUN LEAGUE: The Fort William Curling Club is trying something new. A new league on Saturday nights with a modern appeal geared to the younger generation. The new Wreck-reational league is for those looking to have fun while curling.

“New to the game — it doesn't matter — instruction will be provided the first three weeks to make sure you are ready to be a curler,” said Tricia Sampson, one of the FWCC board members who is running the league.

“This league is about fun, to let loose and have a social time while curling on Saturday evenings,” added Sampson, noting there will be a twist with music playing on the ice to liven things up.

There are 10 dates to curl. Cost is $500 per team so get a minimum of four people to curl and a maximum of however many you want to join the team but only four can be on the ice each week. Sleeping Giant Brewery is the sponsor for the league therefore age of requirement is required. Gather your friends and register online at www.fortwilliamcurlingclub.com.

If you have upcoming events, information or bonspiel results you want to report in this column, please submit by Monday each week to johncameron14@gmail.com.