This Saturday is the tentative date that local curling clubs can re-open, if the current COVID-19 pandemic lockdown for Northern Ontario is lifted by the province.
The Port Arthur Curling Club is making plans to run their bar Saturday if restrictions are removed, while the Fort William Curling Club is allowing curlers to book practice ice times for Saturday with bookings through its website.
If case counts stabilize, league play at all three local clubs, including the Kakabeka Falls Curling Club could resume by Monday afternoon.
The province wide lockdown came into effect on Dec. 26, shutting down recreation facilities across the province. For curling clubs, it has meant shuttering their doors while they keep their ice plants running.
Local icemaker Brent Adamson says they have been taking the time to perform ice maintenance at both the Port Arthur and Fort William clubs.
Measures taken include reducing the costs of hydro by turning down the compressors and the heat on the ice, while the rocks at both clubs have been taken off the ice as a preventative measure.
Adamson also explained that volunteers have taken the time to perform minor maintenance during the shutdown which includes fresh paint in the club rooms at Fort William.
MAJOR LEAGUE NEXT WEEK: The Tbaytel Major League of Curling was slated to resume play with Draw 14 tonight at the Port Arthur Curling Club.
However, that is not happening. Those six games will be rescheduled with league officials looking at a Saturday afternoon draw later this month either on Jan. 16, Jan. 23 or Jan. 30.
The local competitive league has five round-robin draws left to end regular-season play and hopes to resume action with four games on Jan. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Kakabeka Falls Curling Club.
The league is planning to move up their playoffs dates to February with plans to host a Championship Saturday event at the Port Arthur Curling Club pending confirmation of ice time.
The league playoff will once again feature a championship and consolation seeding with the top seven teams after round robin to play for the Tbaytel title.
The first team overall will earn a bye to the semifinals with the remaining six teams to meet in quarter-final matches.
The consolation side will have a similar format with the eighth-place team overall earning a bye to the semifinals.
The Dylan Johnston rink, the defending league champions, are the current front-runners in the 14-team competitive loop.
Johnston and his five-person team of Brennan Wark, Oye Sem Won, Chris Briand and Kurtis Byrd sport a 7-2 record — one win a head of Bryan Burgess.
Burgess, who won the league title two years ago at skip, has his Kakabeka Falls club team of Mike Vale, Tristen Vale and Greg Hollins at 6-2. Trevor Bonot and Krista McCarville are tied for third-place with records of 6-3.
Frank Morissette sits in fifth at 5-3, while three skips — Mike Desilets, Al Hackner and Ben Mikkelsen — currently hold the top-seven spots, tied for sixth-place, at 5-4. Mike Pozihun (4-4) and Gary Weiss (4-5) remain in the hunt for a championship playoff berth, but need wins as all teams complete their 12-game schedules.
It looks like seven wins may be the magic number to qualify for the top-seven bracket and a shot at the league title.
If you have information that you want to share in this weekly curling column, please email John Cameron at email@example.com or call 631-3032.