The 2023 Manitoba Open Bonspiel wrapped up Monday evening with event finals at Fort Garry and Charleswood Curling Clubs.
The ASHAM championship final game pitted Andrew Irving (Fort Rouge) against Justin Reynolds (Winnipeg Beach). It was all that could be asked for in the final game of the 133rd incarnation of the world’s oldest and largest bonspiel.
The game was tied 2-2 after four ends and, after a pair of Reynolds blank ends followed by a deuce, Reynolds led 4-2 coming home. The Irving team got two behind a corner guard and Reynolds was about four inches short on a freeze, allowing Irving a last shot draw for three and victory. He slid deep and the game went to an extra end.
With his last rock on the ninth, Reynolds threw a hit past a guard, facing two. He had to roll an inch to the centre line but rolled just that much to the outside, leaving Irving a steal and a 5-4 victory for Andrew Irving, Brad Van Walleghem, Ronan Gueret, Roy Janz, and Alex Forrest.
NOTT AUTOCORP FINAL – Josh Drews (Merrimack Valley) led Richard Muntain (Granite) 5-1 after four. The game ended in favour of the Drews foursome when the teams traded deuces in a 7-3, 6-end final result.
ORIGINAL 16 FINAL – Sean Grassie (Deer Lodge) jumped out to a 3 point lead after the opening end but Joey Witherspoon (Assiniboine Memorial) fought back to tie after 5 ends. Grassie was up 4-3 coming home but faced two with his final rock. He made a delicate hit and roll behind cover, forcing Witherspoon to draw for a single but he slid an inch too deep and Grassie stole a 5-3 win.
Before the final games began, it was possible to confirm the three Viterra Championship berth winners. The two ASHAM finalists were both potential berth recipients. However, the Andrew Irving foursome had knowingly played the last few games with an ineligible team. Justin Reynolds, Nick Weshnoweski, Josh Maisey, Sean Giesbrecht, Dan LeBlanc were awarded the berth as ASHAM event finalist.
That meant two berths were available for the most advanced eligible teams in the NOTT AUTCORP and ORIGINAL 16 events. The Josh Drews team (Merrimack Valley, New Hampshire) was ineligible and Sean Grassie (Deer Lodge) had already won a berth. Therefore, the last two Viterra berths went to Richard Muntain’s Granite team (Dean Dunstone, Al Purdy, Bruce Wyche) and Joey Witherspoon and his Assiniboine Memorial team (Taylor McIntyre, Derek Blanchard, Trevor Calvert).
In December, Reynolds had played in the East Regional playoff and lost both the “A” and the “B” qualifying games while Muntain had missed qualifying through the Winnipeg Regional playoff.
Witherspoon, who was a 2010 Junior Champion at third for Alex Forrest, is originally from Carberry and provides another local attraction for the Neepawa host committee.
In the other Manitoba Open Bonspiel Event Finals:
ATKINS: Jesse McCullough (Fort Garry) 7-4 over Norma Purdy (St. Vital)
MANITOBA HYDRO: Andrew Wickman (Fort Rouge) 7-3 over Shaun Parsons (Burntwood)
DYNASTY: Darryl Friesen (St. Vital) 8-0 over Evan Gillies (Morden)
BITUMINEX PAVING: Adam Minor (AMCC) 8-1 over Rod Cruz (Heather)
MANITOBA PORK: Ken Stanley (St. Vital) 6-2 over Bryce McEwen (Granite)
CURLMANITOBA: Steve Michaleski (Morris) 5-3 over Corey Boisevert (Granite)
MCMUNN & YATES: Dan Birchard (Pembina) 5-2 over Craig Nichol (Stonewall)
SPORT MANITOBA: Fernando Requiema (West St. Paul) 10-2 over Timothy Friesen (East St. Paul)