The date of Feb. 11 is now the earliest time that local curlers can return to the ice with Tuesday’s announcement of the extension of the provincial lockdown.
If people don’t heed the stay-at-home-order and the case counts continue to rise, the lockdown could stretch into March which could leave the Fort William Curling Club, the Port Arthur Curling Club and Kakabeka Falls Curling Club with a tough decision on whether to continue the season.
There is a high cost for hydro to keep the ice in and with no revenue coming through the door, the option to end the season is one that may be considered.
The Chilliwack, B.C., Curling Club, where the Al Hackner rink played the Canadian seniors two years ago, waved the white flag in the face of the pandemic this week. With provincial health orders limiting what the club could do with its leagues and other programs, the board at the Chilliwack club voted to shut down the ice plant and start preparing for next season.
MAJOR HOLD: The Tbaytel Major League of Curling is hoping to complete its 45th season which started back at the end of September. That will be dependent on local curling clubs re-opening.
The Fort William Curling Club, Port Arthur Curling Club and Kakabeka Falls Curling Club saw members play their last games the week prior to Christmas. The last draw for the major league was Dec. 23 — ironically it was Draw 13.
“We were looking to wrap up the season by Feb. 13 until this latest announcement,” said Bryan Burgess, who is part of the four-member major-league executive. “The ice for the playoffs was booked at Port Arthur Curling Club for that Saturday and were hoping that we could juggle the final five draws of round robin play by playing some games on the weekend to wrap up our season.
“We do have till April to finish it. All Wednesdays at KFCC are open and PACC said we can play on any Saturday to make up games,” added Burgess, who has his team challenging for first-place in the 14-team competitive league with a 6-2 record. Dylan Johnston, the defending league champions, are front runners at 7-2 record.
CALGARY PREP: Two local players — Oye Sem Won, second on Team Johnston, and Trevor Bonot, who also has his major league team in the battle for first place at 6-3, are two players are hoping the league can continue.
Bonot and Won look to use the local competitive games to prepare for the Home Hardware Canadian mixed doubles championships which are planned for the Calgary bubble following the Tim Hortons Brier in mid-March.
The Port Arthur Curling Club duo will represent Northern Ontario at the national championship that begins March 15 in Calgary.
“I just hope we can have ice before we go so we can get ready,” said Bonot, the former Canadian Mixed champion. “The major-league games would be a bonus, but I understand if we can’t play due to the restrictions.”
MARCH TO MARCH: The major league is now looking at early March to host the Championship Saturday event to wrap up the season with March 6 or March 13 as potential dates at the PACC. That is if the lockdown restrictions are lifted.
The playoff format splits the 14-team league into two divisions based on records from round-robin play.
The top seven teams qualify for the championship round to play for the major league title and cash, while bottom seven teams play for the consolation crown and a money reward.
The first-place finisher receives a bye to the championship semifinals, while the eighth-place team, tops on the consolation side, also have a bye to the semifinals.
With the major league the only games for most local competitive curlers this year, many are hoping they can complete the season.
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