Thunder Bay rinks skipped by Frank Morissette, Ron Rosengren and Mike Desilets will vie for the Northern Ontario senior title when the provincial playdowns get underway in Sturgeon Falls today.
Morissette and teammate Gary Champagne will be trying to repeat as champions as part of Al Hackner’s team from last year that beat Sudbury’s Rob Gordon in the final.
Hackner opted not to play this year, so Morissette and Champagne recruited Mike Pozihun and Andy Peloza. That duo is bidding for a first trip to a national championship.
Rosengren and his Port Arthur Curling Club rink of Gary Maunula, Ken Scholz are back at the senior provincials after losing the final to Gordon three years ago in Kenora. Ironically, Rosengren faces Gordon in their first game of the round robin at this morning.
Desilets is in his rookie year at the seniors, but his team of Scott Henderson, Dale Wiersema and Bill Peloza come with plenty of playdown experience from the junior level to seniors.
Henderson has been to three Briers, last representing Northern Ontario at the Canadian men’s championship in Halifax in 2003. Desilets was Henderson’s second on that squad.
Henderson is getting back into curling after knee injuries sidelined him the past three years.
“I have always had a passion for the game so the decision to come back after knee surgery was not a hard decision,” said the 56-year-old former skip.
“I have been able to win at the junior, the men’s level and would like to win at the senior level — especially with guys who are my friends on this team,” explains Henderson, who has represented Ontario at the Canada Games back in his youth.
Henderson says when Desilets moved back to Thunder Bay from Saskatoon, the two talked about getting back together.
“Mike and I had success going to the Brier together so that motivated me to get back into the game.”
Henderson and Peloza have been teammates a number of years at the men’s and senior level while Wiersema played with them the one year when they lost Northern Ontario men’s final to Al Hackner.
“Dale is a good player as he went to the Brier with Bruce Melville in 1998,” adds Henderson, who pens a financial advice column for The Chronicle-Journal.
“He is a great sweeper and like Mike this is his first year of eligibility, so for Bill and I, it is nice to have some youth on this senior team.”
MASTERS OF THE GAME: Al Hackner drove 1,500 kilometres to add to his collection of Hearts, winning his 18th provincial championship in Timmins over the weekend. Hackner and his rink of Eric Harnden (Sault Ste. Marie), Frank Morissette (Thunder Bay) and Bruce Munro won the Northern Ontario masters title for the third time in four years.
Hackner went undefeated in the 60 plus provincial playdown that saw four teams compete, including the Gord Williams entry from the Port Arthur Curling Club.
Hackner scored five in the second end en route to a 9-2 six-end victory over Timmin’s Ed Richter in the final. In fact, the Hackner rink dominated the competition, outscoring their opposition 45–7 over six games.
The Hackner rink lost the Canadian final to Alberta’s Mickey Pendergast last year. They will be out to win the Canadian 60-plus title that they won in 2017 when they travel to Rothesay, N.B., for the Canadian Masters, March 30–April 5.
The Northern Ontario women’s rink at the Canadian Masters is the Port Arthur Curling Club foursome of Karen Saarimaki, Marion Clark, Linda Luski and Tannis Ferguson. Once again, it was direct entry to the nationals with no other teams signing up for the provincial playdowns.
ONE LAST ROUND: A showdown between Krista McCarville and Mike McCarville is one of two games that will determine seventh place and the final berth in the championship playoff bracket as the TBayTel Major League of Curling wraps up round robin play tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Port Arthur Curling Club.
The other key game in Draw 13 has Trevor Bonot playing Al Hackner with Bonot needing a win to get into the tiebreaker scenario for seventh place.
The major league title will be decided in a one-day playoff event Saturday January 25 at the Port Arthur Curling Club. Championship Saturday will involve all 14-teams in the Thunder Bay competitive league with the top seven teams playing for the top cash in the championship round while the bottom seven teams will challenge for the consolation crown.
Mike McCarville and his rink of Jordan Potter, Zach Warkentin and Travis Potter hold down seventh place with a 7-5 record and can punch their ticket to play for the major league title with a win over his wife, Krista McCarville.
However, Krista McCarville and Bonot, each at 6-6, need wins to force a tiebreaker scenario for the final championship playoff spot. The McCarville rink of Sarah Potts, Jordan Potts, Ashley Sippala and Rick Lang stayed in the race for seventh place with a win last week over Matt Duizer, while Bonot and his squad of Brennan Wark, Kent Maarup and Troy Avis look to rebound from a loss to Bryan Burgess.
The other games have teams playing to add another $100 to their per win totals.
Dylan Johnston, who locked up first place and a bye to the championship semifinal with a win over Ben Mikkelsen last week, is looking for an 11th win.
Johnston (10-2) takes on the 8-4 Frank Morissette rink to be skipped by Pat Berezowski for a second-straight week.
Morissette, along with the Ron Rosengren and Scott Henderson, are at the senior provincials.
Mikkelsen (9-3) is tied for second place with Hackner. He’ll draw Rosengren (8-4) tonight. Gary Weiss (8-4 ) wraps up the round robin against Burgess, who is out for a second straight win at 1-11. It is a showdown of junior squads as the under-18 Duizer rink (3-9) meets the under-21 squad of Jonathon Vellinga (2-10).
Liane Fossum (3-9) meets the makeshift Henderson foursome (4-8).
STICK WINNERS: The Fort William Curling Club had 30 teams compete at their two-person stick spiel this past Saturday. The ‘A’ event winners were the team of Brown/DiCasmirro. The Dean/Berquist team won the ‘B’ event, the Moore/Osedea duo claimed the ‘C’ event, while the ‘D’ event was won by the Graham team. The Fort William club will host their next stick event on Saturday April 4th. The cost is $60 per team with the sign-up sheet at the FWCC bar.
AROUND THE CLUBS: The Kakabeka Falls Curling Club will be busy this weekend with a full slate of 32-teams competing in their Jones & Associates Men’s Skins Bonspiel. The event wraps up Sunday with prizes handed out in four events.
Meanwhile, the Port Arthur Curling Club is looking for more teams to sign up for their popular Super Bowl Bonspiel coming up at the end of this month. Teams can sign up at the PACC bar. Entry fee is $200 per team.
If you have curling news or results from bonspiels to report, you can contact John Cameron by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or text 631-3032.