Mikkelsen in Leduc

Thunder Bay’s Ben Mikkelsen guides his sweepers last week during the Canadian club curling championship in Leduc, Alta.

THUNDER Bay curlers continue to put in strong performances at national and international events as was evident by results this weekend.

The Ben Mikkelsen rink from the Port Arthur Curling Club captured the bronze medal at the Canadian Curling Club Championships in Leduc, Alta., while the Krista McCarville rink from the Fort William Curling Club repeated as champions at the Curl Mesabi Classic in Eveleth, Minn.

Mikkelsen and teammates Greg Doran, Chris Briand, Devin Doran along with fifth Kurtis Byrd came up short of their goal of hanging another Canadian banner at Port Arthur Curling Club but were proud of their third-place finish.

It was an especially rewarding experience for Briand who was honoured to be selected by his fellow curlers for the sportsmanship award. It seems a few Thunder Bay curlers have won this award at past national championships, including Sarah Lang, Al Hackner and Frank Morissette.

Meanwhile, Krista McCarville’s rink with Kendra Lilly, Ashley Sippala and Jennifer Gates capped off their third and final bonspiel on the season with a championship win at the World Curling Tour event in Eveleth. There was no second-place finish this time for McCarville as the reigning Northern Ontario Scotties champs needed four ends to beat a strong Laura Walker rink from Edmonton 7-1.

Team McCarville posted seven straight wins going undefeated in a field that included top American teams Nina Roth, Jamie Sinclair and Cassie Potter who they defeated in the semis, plus another Canadian entry, Theresa Cannon of Winnipeg, who they beat twice in the round robin and quarterfinals.

Team McCarville now have two months off with their next event the Northern Ontario Scotties Provincials set for New Liskeard at the end of January.

Success in Saskatoon

Al Hackner had a successful return to coaching the Glenn Muirhead rink from Scotland as the Scots qualified for the money at a World Curling Tour event in Saskatoon on the weekend.

“They lost to eventual Spiel winner Harty in a very well played game in the quarterfinals,” said Hackner who will head to a second spiel with the team in Wadena, Sask., this weekend.

The Jeremy Harty rink from Calgary beat the Bruce Korte rink from Saskatoon in the final. Korte are the reigning Canadian senior champions who played against Hackner at the senior nationals last year in Chilliwack, B.C.

Hackner was pleased with Team Muirhead’s performance as they lost the A event qualifier to Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen but then qualified through the B side with a win over China’s Qiang Zou.

Hackner will have some practice sessions, two practice games and a junior clinic with Team Muirhead in Wadena before the spiel starts on Friday.

Major League Tonight

Team Mikkelsen’s rink step onto the ice at the Port Arthur Curling Club for Draw 9 of the Tbaytel Major League of Curling tonight looking to get back into win column. Mikkelsen and his rink of Greg Doran, Carter Morash and Devin Doran find themselves in a three way tie for second place with a 6-2 record in the 14-rink competitive league as they take on Krista McCarville.

McCarville, with a 4-4 record, is battling to stay in the top seven for a spot in the championship pool for the playoffs in January. McCarville will have momentum of their own coming off their cash win in Eveleth.

Mikkelsen, who won the Tbaytel Major League five years ago, is coming off a bronze medal performance at the Canadian Curling Club Championships in Leduc, Alta., and looks to use the momentum of the strong national championship performance to make a run at capturing the local compeiitive league title.

The Hackner rink, meanwhile, hold down first place entering Draw 9 with a 7-1 record. Team Hackner will be without their skip when they take on the young Matt Duzier rink.

The Hackner lineup will see Jonah Dupuis sparing at skip while Jamie Childs moves up to third and Gary Champagne to second with Brian Adams sparing at lead. Duzier and his young teammates Jackson Dubinsky, Adam Wieresema and Brayden Sinclair, who are using the major league to prepare of the U18 playdowns, come in with a 2-6 record.

Dylan Johnston and Mike McCarville, who share second place with Mikkselsen, will be looking to get back in the win column after losses last week. Johnston, whose third Chris Briand was the second on Mikkelsen’s bronze-medal team in Leduc, draws the mixed squad of Liane Fossum (2-6).

Mike McCarville’s team has a tough test as they have a showdown with Ron Rosengren’s rink who are riding a five-game win streak and are one of four teams tied for fifth place with 5-3 records. Two of the those fifth-place teams, Trevor Bonot and Gary Weiss, face each other while Frank Morissette draws the winless Bryan Burgess rink.

The night’s other game to round out the Draw 9 schedule has Scott Henderson’s senior squad taking on the U21 rink of Jonathon Vellinga. Henderson and Vellinga both have 2-6 records with Henderson finally snapping a six-game losing skid last week.

Entry Deadlines

This Friday is the deadline for teams to sign up for the Northern Ontario Men’s playdowns and the U21 men’s and women’s provincial playdowns. The Northern Ontario Best Western U21 Championships will be played in Hearst Dec. 27-30. The first round of men’s play will be the West Qualifier in Fort Frances Dec. 19-22.

(If you have information that you want to share in this weekly curling column, please email John Cameron at johncameron14@gmail.com or call John at 631-3032.)

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