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)
The CurlManitoba TELUS Junior Championships begin Tuesday evening at the Portage Curling Club with 11 Junior Women’s team and 10 Junior Men’s teams competing for the coveted Manitoba championship and a berth in the national championship.
Based on recent past performance at the national championships, Manitoba will have two berths again in 2023 so the two teams in the championship final games will both earn national berths.
The top three teams in the Manitoba Junior Curling Tour rankings are the top three seeds in the Telus Junior Men’s while three of the four top-ranked MJCT teams are the top three seeds in the TELUS Junior Women’s.
#1 SEED: Jordon McDonald (Deer Lodge) Reece Hamm, Elias Huminicki, Cam Olafson, Coach Blaine Malo – the defending champion team with one change from a year ago, Cam Olafson replacing Alexandre Fontaine. McDonald has a long record of success in his young career: 2019-2020-2022 U-18 champion, 2022 Viterra Berth winner and this year’s juniors’ team has also won a 2023 Viterra Berth. The #2 ranked MJCT team also won the end-of-season MJCT Championship (over Freeman)
#2 SEED: Jace Freeman (Virden) Thomas McGillivary, Ryan Ostrowsky, Aaron Macdonell, Coach Graham Freeman – the Virden skip has already this season skipped winning teams in CurlManitoba’s Canada Games Trials and the U-18 Championship (with Huminicki on both teams). This junior team has also won a Viterra Berth for this year. Lead Aaron Macdonell will also go to the Canada Games as Mixed Doubles winner. The team finished the MJCT season ranked #1
#3 SEED Aaron Van Ryssel (Springfield) Riel Dufault, Jonah Peterson, Andrew McKay, Coach Ron Westcott – the MJCT #3 team won one MJCT event (over Freeman) and lost a final (to McDonald) and gained valuable experience by playing in Viterra regional playoffs.
#1 SEED: Katy Lukowich (Granite), Lauren Rajala, Mikaylah Lyburn, Makenna Hadway, Coach Mark Lukowich – already a Scotties berth winner this season, the Lukowich foursome will go direct from Portage to the Scotties in East St. Paul They were the winners of one event and were the #2 ranked team on the MJCT this season
#2 SEED: Zoey Terrick (Heather) Jaycee Terrick, Jensen Letham, Tessa Terrick, Coach Clint Cullen – Zoey and Tess Terrick were CurlManitoba’s U-18 champions in 2022. They were the #1 ranked MJCT team this season as a result of three event wins, including the season ending MJCT championship (over Beaudry)
#3 SEED: Grace Beaudry (St. Vital), Emily Ogg, Maddy Hollins, Mackenzie Arbuckle, Julia Millan, Coach Calvin Edie – also a Scotties regional berth winner, Grace Beaudry has had finalist finishes (with a different team) in both the U-18 championships and the Canada Games Trials already this season. They are the #2 ranked team on the MJCT as a result of winning a pair of events along with the Tour Championship finalist finish.
The Junior Men will play a round-robin format with two pools of five teams and a 4-team Page Playoff while the 11 team Junior Women’s event will be a triple knockout, also with a 4-team Page Playoff.
Competition begins at the Portage Curling Club Tuesday, January 17 at 7:30PM with the first Junior Women’s draw. Junior Men’s play begins Wednesday, January 18 at 10AM.
Two games on each draw will be livestreamed, one with commentary and one without. The CurlManitoba TELUS Juniors live-stream can be found at CurlManitoba YouTube page.
As I travelled the city, I encountered curling friends unseen for a couple of years – the truly important aspect of the Manitoba Open. When logical the question – IF you get to that point is your team eligible and will you accept a Viterra invitation. Not surprising, mostly NO to the first, often NO to the second.
David & Dennis Bohn playing for old times sake with Larry Solomon and a team from years past. Yes, we’re eligible – Maybe we’d go I wonder when that decision has to be made.
Trevor Loreth’s team – Not likely, other plans.
An email late yesterday afternoon about an expected POWER OUTAGE has warned everyone they can’t check the updated draws on the CurlManitoba website until after noon today – and a review of the ASHAM event situation (when last updated) is unhelpful
The semi-finals of that event will be played at noon today. The wins are not marked – but the last eight names provide little insight.
Larry Weatherburn vs Andrew Irving (Irving had already told me – no Viterra in their plans). Larry Weatherburn from Eriksdale probably travels more miles to curl than any Manitoba curler – he plays for a great love of the game, but I’d bet he’d love to be the oldest guy in the Viterra.
The Beach Boys (Winnipeg Beach) vs Keough of the Lodge – who knows!
Team TEAM (Pembina) vs Bohn (AMCC) – tough to know what to think of a team calling themselves TEAM, see above for notes on Bohn
Dawn Patrol (Merrimack Valley) vs Van Ryssel (Springfield) – Merrimack Valley is in New Hampshire, I believe, so no Viterra invitation for them. Van Ryssel (probably, but can’t be sure) a junior team tuning up for the TELUS Juniors starting Thursday. If I have the right team, they played Viterra zones so they’re eligible. Do you suppose there is any intimidation value going to juniors after winning a Viterra berth or even the bonspiel championship? BUT I don’t even know if they won last night. So we’ll check the draw later.
That last note reminds of the story from 1958-59. I wasn’t there ( I was only 10 years old) but the story goes that Jack Van Hellemond played the High School Bonspiel wearing the Brier Purple Heart he had won the season before when he lost the Brier final with Terry Braunstein. That could be intimidating!.
(FRIDAY Late update)MANITOBA OPEN ‘SPIEL NOT QUITE AT THE “WHO’S CHASING BERTHS” STAGE …. The Manitoba Open Spiel got underway Thursday evening and has been running all day today – a few glitches no doubt but the clubs are full or partly full, at least, depending upon the game schedule as the “draw-room” tries to fairly share the games among the participating clubs. That itself is no small challenge.
I thought it time to sign-on here at thecurler.com! I have been posting through these first two days on Instagram (thecurlerdotcom) and facebook (thecurler). This afternoon, however, one of my regular readers asked if I had quit updating here.
No, I have not – its is just a difference in my approach here compared to those other two more immediate outlets.
In my social media feeds I have talked abut Caesars and about two pretty good teams who beat us today in an average of five ends each game – and about the team last evening who we caught by surprise in an 8th end win.
This space is reserved mostly for the more traditional curling sports coverage of the bonspiel – who is chasing the Viterra Championship berths.
There are three spots to fill in Neepawa. Until sometime Sunday, that story won’t begin to really develop.
And there are increasingly interesting challenges to this reporting. A big one is the new trend for teams to self-identify in some strange-but-fun way. For example is a team named SNOWFLAKE & THE OUTTURNS likely to be chasing a Viterra berth. My instinct is that you’d say – not likely.
However, what if I told you the Snowflake (at least I assume he is the Snowflake) is Scott Furevick – at one time a pretty competitive provincial men’s level guy who also had Manitoba Senior Men’s appearances before he moved to BC. Now do you wonder if he is just here for fun or is he chasing a berth? In this case, I know that his Fort Rouge team, including President Erik Wallace, confirmed eligibility before the start of play – just in case. (Scott would be eligible as a qualified import and I suspect also as a birthright player).
Too early to worry about it however, as they played an Original 16 event game Friday late against another team I suspect is interested in a Viterra berth – Trevor Loreth’s Granite team. These guys made a deep run at the provincial men’s a few years back – before the won the Club Champions Championship. I say I suspect they would want a Viterra berth – but I don’t know.
I thought Andrew Irving would probably be interested in a berth so I asked when we played them early Friday – a good team with championship credentials. Nope – not interested this year – we can’t go if we did win a berth.
You might look at the draw and say – Micheal Coutts, what about him. As a dad but also an observer I can tell you these guys are good enough – a team like them is often one of the teams that wins a berth through the bonspiel. They are decent club curlers and there is always a team that just gets hot this week. They are one of maybe 100 similar teams in the spiel – but at some point you have to ask – are they eligible? They are – right up to the moment the lead has to leave Sunday afternoon for a work commitment and dad joins the team throwing with a stick. I don’t hurt their chances of winning – it is just that the stick automatically makes them ineligible…..and please don’t read that negatively – I absolutely agree with that policy!
My point should be obvious by now – there will be some bonspiel coverage here soon but first I have to figure out a few things. Like who are FAST FREDDY & THE 3 STOOGES (Granite) , ROYAL HOTEL ALUMNI (Arborg) and PCC PARALYZERS (Pembina) still alive Friday late in Original 16.
There is also a need to to confirm eligibility for such as former champion Mark Lukowich (Ft Rouge) still undefeated playing the late Friday Asham draw. Or how about Team Bohn (AMCC) – is this David/Dennis or both – the Bohn name hasn’t been high profile in recent years but it is a name to automatically register in the Viterra berth discussion – if in fact it is them and if in fact they are eligible.
It will be fun watching those last few draws as the 3 Viterra berths and the bonspiel event winners are determined – in the meantime, the fun is in the curling, the visits to the clubs, the visits with old curling friends we have not seen in too long!
*** Pictured in various combinations above: my team is skipped by Harold Hamilton and includes Norm Magnusson, Willie Friesen and Bill Biehl. Guys, it is a privilege to be playing with you – Resby