PointsBet Invitational with new format to be unveiled in September in Fredericton

(Curling Canada Release) Curling Canada’s newest championship, the PointsBet Invitational, will feature new teams, an exciting new format and new ways to be entertained, it was announced today.

The inaugural PointsBet Invitational will be played Sept. 21-25 at Willie O’Ree Place in Fredericton, N.B., and will bring together Canada’s best men’s and women’s curling teams for the first major event of the 2022-23 curling season, and the first event of the quadrennial that leads to the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy.

Not only will it be the first opportunity to see many new teams that were formed during this off-season, but it will also be a chance to see a format new to Curling Canada’s Season of Champions that will feature 16 men’s and 16 women’s teams compete in a single-knockout tournament offering a purse in excess of $350,000.

“The drama and emotion of a single-knockout bracket tournament is well-chronicled in sports such as tennis and the NCAA basketball championships, and we expect our new event to bring that kind of passion and excitement to curling,” said Katherine Henderson, Chief Executive Officer of Curling Canada. “It’s also a chance for us to showcase our partnership with PointsBet, and, happily, finally bring a major championship to Fredericton after a couple of disappointing years of cancellations due to the pandemic.”

The PointsBet Invitational will be the first curling event sponsored by PointsBet Canada, the official Sports Betting Partner of Curling Canada.“

Since Day 1 of our partnership with Curling Canada, we have made it a priority to offer new and exciting ways for fans to connect with the sport we all love,” said Nic Sulsky, Chief Commercial Officer for PointsBet Canada. “Whether it is the Trailer Park Boys throwing rocks with national champions Kevin Koe and Kerri Einarson, or events like the PointsBet Invitational, we are committed to working with Curling Canada to excite the existing supporters but to also attract the next generation of fans.

”Fredericton had been announced as the host of the 2020 Home Hardware Canada Cup and 2022 Continental Cup, but both events were cancelled because of the pandemic.

“It is truly an honour to host the inaugural PointsBet Invitational,” said Host Committee Chair Wayne Tallon. “After having had two events cancelled due to COVID we are looking forward to the opportunity to host this event. For our fans and volunteers it will be exciting for them to watch all the new teams compete in their first big event. We look forward to working with the City of Fredericton, Curling Canada and the title sponsor PointsBet to roll out the red carpet for the players, coaches and fans.”

The full fields will be announced at a later date, but tentatively, the 16 teams in each gender will comprise the top 12 ranked teams on the revamped World Curling Team Ranking System; the reigning women’s (Nova Scotia’s Team Emily Deschenes) and men’s (Ontario’s Team Landan Rooney) champions at the New Holland Canadian Juniors; and the reigning women’s (Team Tracy Larocque) and men’s (Nova Scotia’s Team Nick Deagle) champions at the Everest Canadian Curling Club Championships; host committee-selected men’s (Team Jack Smeltzer) and women’s teams (Team Andrea Kelly) from Fredericton; and a men’s and women’s sponsor’s exemption entry.

All 32 competing teams will receive $5,000 to cover travel and accommodation costs, and teams will earn more money for each successive win in the single-knockout tournament — $3,000 for a first-round win, $6,000 for a quarterfinal win, $12,000 for a semifinal win and $24,000 to the victorious women’s and men’s teams, meaning the two winning teams will each collect a total of $50,000.In addition to watching Canada’s best teams compete in a high-stakes championship, fans will have many other ways to enjoy the inaugural PointsBet Invitational.

The Patch will be set up at Willie O’Ree Place, with live entertainment throughout the event.

Additionally, on the Friday night, following the “Elite Eight” rounds in both genders, there will be a Celebrity Invitational event featuring numerous Canadian celebrities participating with elite curlers in exhibition games.

With only around 1,000 seats available in the initial ticket offering, it’s expected that New Brunswick curling fans will snap them up quickly.

The full-event package will sell for $249 and will guarantee a single ticket and seat selection for all 10 draws of the 2022 PointsBet Invitational. The package will also include a bonus ticket for admission to the Friday night Celebrity Invitational and party in the Patch. All ticket purchases are subject to standard ticket service fees.

Curling fans who had purchased tickets to the canceled 2022 Continental Cup will receive an email and be provided the first chance at the best seats in the house through an exclusive advanced sales window from June 22 to 27. Starting Tuesday, June 28, at 10 a.m. AT, full-event ticket packages will be available to the public online via Ticketmaster, in-person at the Capital Winter Club or by phone at 506 452-0020.  

Customers are encouraged to sign up for Curling Canada’s e-newsletter at curling.ca to receive ongoing ticket information.

Volunteer and entertainment information will be made available in the coming weeks.

“We’re thrilled to see the PointsBet Invitational make its debut in New Brunswick,” said Bernard Savoie, president of the New Brunswick Curling Association. “We’re also very happy to see Fredericton finally get its opportunity to host a major curling championship after the disappointments of the past two seasons.”

Broadcast plans will be announced at a later date.

CurlManitoba Announces Expanded Rocky Mountain Equipment Sponsorship

(CurlManitoba Release) CurlManitoba is pleased to announce a major new partnership with Rocky Mountain Equipment (RME), the largest independent agriculture dealer in Canada.

Beginning with the 2023 championship at East St. Paul, RME will be the new Presenting Sponsor of the Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

The RME-CurlManitoba partnership began in the 2021-22 championship season when they were one of the major sponsors of CurlManitoba’s live-streaming of the Men’s, Women’s, and Junior Men’s & Women’s provincial championships.

“With RME’s support, we were able to create an opportunity for nearly 200,000 views as Manitoba curling fans and fans around the curling world followed their favorite teams competing in four Manitoba championships in a season when live-attendance was still being limited by pandemic restrictions,” says CurlManitoba Executive Director Craig Baker.

“We very much appreciated RME’s support in making that opportunity available across Manitoba and world-wide. RME’s expanded support will help us continue to present a world-class championship experience for our athletes and our fans,” Baker says.

Jim Wood, RME’s Chief Sales & Operations Officer, says “We were very happy with our relationship with Curl Manitoba last year and are pleased to take on this expanded role to support CurlManitoba and the Manitoba curling community with this new sponsorship. We are committed to community support and we know the prairie curling community is large and loyal. We look forward to supporting CurlManitoba’s efforts to ensure the sport remains vibrant at both the community and championship levels.”

RME has thirty-six dealerships across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, with 10 CaseIH locations in Manitoba. The ten in Manitoba are spread across agro-Manitoba including dealerships in Brandon, Boissevain, Dauphin, Elie, Killarney, Neepawa, Russell, Shoal Lake, Steinbach and Winkler. Dealerships in Moosomin and Yorkton, Saskatchewan also serve significant numbers of Manitoba customers.

CurlManitoba Announces Expanded Rocky Mountain Equipment Sponsorship

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Curl Manitoba Media Releases11:26 AM (2 hours ago)
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For Immediate Release: June 9, 2022

CurlManitoba is pleased to announce a major new partnership with Rocky Mountain Equipment (RME), the largest independent agriculture dealer in Canada.

Beginning with the 2023 championship at East St. Paul, RME will be the new Presenting Sponsor of the Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

The RME-CurlManitoba partnership began in the 2021-22 championship season when they were one of the major sponsors of CurlManitoba’s live-streaming of the Men’s, Women’s, and Junior Men’s & Women’s provincial championships.

“With RME’s support, we were able to create an opportunity for nearly 200,000 views as Manitoba curling fans and fans around the curling world followed their favorite teams competing in four Manitoba championships in a season when live-attendance was still being limited by pandemic restrictions,” says CurlManitoba Executive Director Craig Baker.

“We very much appreciated RME’s support in making that opportunity available across Manitoba and world-wide. RME’s expanded support will help us continue to present a world-class championship experience for our athletes and our fans,” Baker says.

Jim Wood, RME’s Chief Sales & Operations Officer, says “We were very happy with our relationship with Curl Manitoba last year and are pleased to take on this expanded role to support CurlManitoba and the Manitoba curling community with this new sponsorship. We are committed to community support and we know the prairie curling community is large and loyal. We look forward to supporting CurlManitoba’s efforts to ensure the sport remains vibrant at both the community and championship levels.”

RME has thirty-six dealerships across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, with 10 CaseIH locations in Manitoba. The ten in Manitoba are spread across agro-Manitoba including dealerships in Brandon, Boissevain, Dauphin, Elie, Killarney, Neepawa, Russell, Shoal Lake, Steinbach and Winkler. Dealerships in Moosomin and Yorkton, Saskatchewan also serve significant numbers of Manitoba customers.

CurlManitoba Announces Laliberte Retirement, Officer Appointment

(CurlManitoba News Release) Connie Laliberte, the 1984 World Champion skip who has guided the CurlManitoba High Performance Program for almost 20 years, is retiring as the CurlManitoba High Performance Director effective June 30, 2022.

Jill Officer received the WCF’s Frances Brodie Award at the 2018 Worlds in North Bay – the recipient is selected by the curlers participating in the event, to honour the curler who, “by deed and action in the course of their performance, best exemplified the traditional curling values of skill, honesty, fair play, friendship and sportsmanship.”

Olympic Gold Medalist (2014) and World Champion (2008, 2018) Jill Officer, the career second considered one of the greatest curlers in Canadian and World curling history, will become the CurlManitoba High Performance Program’s next Director.

In making the dual announcement, CurlManitoba Executive Director Craig Baker expressed appreciation for Connie Laliberte’s long service, saying “she was one of the great competitors of her generation. She became an example and role model for those who followed and then she accepted the challenge of developing Manitoba’s High Performance program in order to pass on her experience and expertise to the next generations of Manitoba curlers.”

“It is fitting that Jill Officer, one of the curlers who was inspired by Connie, is becoming CurlManitoba’s High Performance Manager to continue Connie’s work,” Baker says.

Acknowledging Connie Laliberte’s accomplishments which include the 1984 World Championship, three Canadian titles, and eight Manitoba titles (6 Scotties & 2 Juniors), Officer notes that her predecessor’s legacy is much more.

“Connie’s legacy will not just be seen as an athlete and player in our sport. Connie has taken on this role of High Performance Director for nearly 20 years, made it her own, developed it and evolved it to a place where we see so many young curlers benefit from her knowledge and experience. While we don’t always see Connie, her fingerprints are on many of the young athletes we see performing at high levels.”

“Connie has grown this program from nothing over those 20 years and there is no way I can just step into her shoes and do what she does. Instead, I look at it as an opportunity to continue to build on her legacy,” Officer said.


Since playing her last competitive game in 2018, Jill Officer has continued to be very involved in curling and in sport, as a member of the World Curling Federation’s Athlete Commission, as a broadcaster, and as a Canadian Olympic Committee athlete mentor, among many other roles. She welcomes the new opportunity to “take on a more significant role in High Performance in order to pass on my experience and knowledge to upcoming generations.”

Baker agrees with Officer when she describes the significance of the role.

“It is important because the grass roots of our sport is important,” she says. “We need young athletes to be engaged in our sport whether they go on to compete at a high level or decide to compete at a recreational level or coach at any level. Obviously this is a High Performance program with an emphasis on the aspects of High Performance, but ultimately we want people to feel welcome and remain in our sport.”

Officer’s work as CurlManitoba High Performance Director begins June 6, 2022.

The CurlManitoba Board and staff, on behalf of all Manitoba curlers, would like to wish Connie all the best on her well-deserved retirement.

Man-Sask Canadian Team ready for Wheelchair Mixed Doubles Worlds

(Curling Canada Release) With the inaugural Wheelchair Curling Mixed Doubles World Championship just days away, Canada’s athletes don’t really know what to expect.

Canadian Wheelchair Mixed Doubles team in a recent training camp session at Fort Rouge.

“I think it will be great,” said Jamie Anseeuw (Winnipeg). “There are no expectations, because it’s the first one.”

Anseeuw, along with partner Marie Wright were selected from the National Team Program to act as Canada’s representatives for the first mixed doubles wheelchair event, starting Saturday in Lohja, Finland. The 18-team event is split into two pools of nine, and will require an eight-game round robin before the playoff teams are decided.

As a new discipline, even the athletes aren’t sure how the first championship will unfold.

“Some of the European teams have actually been playing a lot of mixed doubles over there,” said Wright (Moose Jaw, Sask.). “We’ll come up against some pretty good teams for sure.”

“There’s pressure because Canada is always one of the strongest countries in the world of curling,” said Answeeuw. “But at the same time, because there are no expectations from prior championships, it takes some of that pressure away.”

Instead of worrying about what they don’t know, coach Dana Ferguson (Edmonton) has been working with the pair to make sure they focus on what they can control.

“They’ve worked really hard,” she said. “Every time we got together, they put the work in. They put the practice in. They’re doing all the stuff off the ice, which is all we can really ask for.”

Ferguson, a Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion in 2019 with Chelsea Carey, is in her first season as coach of the wheelchair team. She admits there’s been some on-the-job learning.

“Mixed doubles, even able bodied, is something that I don’t think people have mastered yet,” said Ferguson. “Adding in wheelchair mixed doubles – it’s a little bit different. So every practice we talk, we learn, and that’s all we can really do. So, the plan is to keep learning and use what we know to our advantage.”

“For Dana to say she’s new at this and doesn’t know much – I don’t buy that” says Wright. “She’s taught us a lot. We’ve learned a lot from her, specifically about strategy and tolerances.”

“We talk a lot about tolerance,” said Ferguson. “We know when a shot needs to be played, and what you can’t do, and what’s okay. We’ve given that a lot of thought, so we know we can get something out of every shot. We know that if we stay within our tolerance, we’ll get better success. Does that mean we’re going to win every game? No. It just gives us something to focus on.”

The pair of athletes, along with Ferguson and team leader Wayne Kiel arrived in Finland on Monday after a long journey from their training camp in Winnipeg.

“It was nice to have the opportunity to get together and practice,” said Wright “It’s given us a really good opportunity to read each other’s rocks, and see how we throw. I think that’s going to help too.”

The team had a practice in Lohja on Wednesday, and will open the tournament on Saturday against Latvia. The Canadians are anxious to get started.

“I think because it’s the first world championship,” said Anseuw, “the whole country is waiting to see how we come out of it. There’s a bit of pressure there, but I think it’s good pressure. We’re a solid team from a solid country so I expect good things.” “Anytime you can put the Maple Leaf on your back and represent your country, it’s an honour,” said Wright. “I’m really happy to have the privilege once again.”

MAGNUSSON-COUTTS WIN CANADIAN STICK OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

(Monday, April 25: 9:30PM) (Publisher’s note: It is an interesting professional challenge to win a significant championship event – but then be the only available person to actually write about it. Forgive me if I cross the line between objective reporter and “wow – we were good”.)

Coutts & Magnusson (r) with CIBC Wood Gundy Rep Andre-Phillippe Caissie

The Manitoba duo of Norm Magnusson and Resby Coutts have won the 2022 edition of the Canadian 2-Person Stick Curling Open Championship in Moncton. A three win Monday, including a pair of extra end victories, earned them the championship, the first under the new sponsorship of CIBC Wood Gundy.

The final game victory over Darren & Darrel Beach (SK) was a story of ‘no quit’. Down 4-0 after two ends, a deuce on the third started a comeback. Single steals on the fourth and sixth, after a blanked fifth, created a tie and extra end.

Under the 2-person sport’s unique rules, there is no hitting until the fourth rock of the end. A centre guard was followed by a draw top eight foot behind the guard. Three times, the Saskatchewan team removed the guard but missed the runback. Three times the guard was replaced. With his last rock of the extra end, Magnusson’s final draw attempt slid deep, coming to rest almost perfectly beside the shot stone. It was a deceptively difficult double kill. The hit overcurled to the nose of one of them, leaving a third steal and a 5-4 championship win.

The key to both the quarterfinal and semifinal wins was the Magnusson-Coutts ability to score a single deuce in each game. In the six rocks-six end game, a two is a big score to overcome. In both games, Magnusson made the key shots. The quarterfinal saw him bite the rings behind a wide corner guard – a rock that was “in” for 2 on a measure after he had an open draw to the rings with his last rock on the second end. In the semifinal, it was a wide out-turn hit past a guard about three feet from the wall that Magnusson ‘stuck’ for the deuce. On that remarkable shot, he nose hit a rock in the full 12 ft circle which was almost fully buried behind the guard.

In the quarterfinal, John Marshall & Haylett Clarke (NS) followed with a single and a steal of one to tie after four ends. A blanked fifth end led to a single, and 3-2 win, without having to throw the last stone coming home.

The semi followed the same pattern, the deuce against former champions Dave McDougal & Paul Doucet (NS) was followed by a single and a steal of one to tie after six ends. In the extra end, again the last rock was not needed for a 4-3 win.

It was almost a Manitoba final. The Manitoba duo of Warren Johnson & Dan McDonald lost the semi-final to the Beach team from Saskatchewan after a quarterfinal victory over Bob Desnoyers & Shawn Sherwood (SK).

In the Women’s Championship final, Betty Matson & Audrey Dorey (NS) were 5-4 extra end winners over Elaine Hughes & Etta Reid (PEI).

Coutts (l) & Magnusson (5W-1L) (Curl Moncton Photo)

(Sunday, April 24: 8:30PM) TWO MANITOBA TEAMS ADVANCE TO CANADIAN STICK CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFFS Manitoba teams of Warren Johnson & Dan McDonald and Norm Magnusson & Resby Coutts have survived to play in the Monday OPEN Championship round in Moncton.

Magnusson-Coutts won a pair of games on Sunday, including a last round showdown with Shawn Sherwood & Bob Desnoyers (Saskatchewan) who were undefeated. Both finished with 5W-1L records but the Manitobans’ victory earns them a bye to the 10AM quarter-finals while Sherwood-Desnoyers had to win a first round playoff game at 8:30PM.

Dan McDonald (l) & Warren Johnson (4W-2L) Curl Moncton Photo

Johnson-McDonald pulled off an early Sunday win over Martin Purvis & Jack Smart (Alberta) to improve to 4W-2L. Then they had to wait nervously for the rest of the group’s results throughout the day. In the end, the early win had earned them third place in the pool.

The Manitoba ‘shot of the day’ has to be ‘shots of the day’ by Dan McDonald as he and Warren Johnson followed a three on the fifth end with a steal and their fourth victory to earn the playoff berth.

As described by Warren after the game, Dan’s precision shooting got them shot stone behind a couple of well placed guards. The opponent’s attempted hit and roll rolled out leaving the steal.

Along with Magnusson-Coutts, the pool winners were AJ Scott & Greg Lowe (SK), former champions Dave McDougal & Paul Doucet (NS), and Darren & Darrel Beach (SK). McDougal & Doucet were the only undefeated team in round-robin play.

In total in the Open playoffs, there are team from Saskatchewan (3), Alberta, Manitoba, BC and Nova Scotia (2 each), and one from Prince Edward Island.

Johnson-McDonald needed an extra in the Sunday evening playoff round to advance to the Monday quarter-finals. They posted a 6-4 win over Desnoyers-Sherwood (SK). The Manitobans will play AJ Scott & Greg Lowe (SK); Magnusson-Coutts will play John Marshall-Haylett-Clarke (NS); Darren & Darrel Beach (SK) meet John Dunsford-Myrna Sanderson (PEI); and Dave McDougal & Paul Doucet (NS) play Darrel Sears-Wayne Heinrichs (BC).

The four team Women’s playoff round will feature teams from Alberta (2), Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island

Manitobans Fred & Britta Spiring (3W-3L) and Tom & Rae Campbell (2W-3L) both missed the playoffs in the Open Championship. Gwen Smith & Lynne Rehbein (3W-4L) missed the playoffs in the Women’s Championship.

Gwen Smith (l) & Lynne Rehbein (Curl Moncton Photo)

(Updated Sunday, April 24: 7AM) MANITOBA TEAMS STILL IN THE PLAYOFF CHASE AT STICK CHAMPIONSHIP After an 0-2 opening day, Gwen Smith & Lynne Rehbein jumped back into contention in the Canadian Stick Championship Women’s Division in Moncton with a three victories Saturday. Rehbein gets the Manitoba ‘shot of the day’ award for her last shot on the opening day of the first game on the early draw. Facing four with her last shot, Rehbein’s double kill rolled to the face of an opposition stone to create a steal.

The shot killed the very early momentum of their BC opponent enroute to an 8-1 win which was followed later by a 6-2 win over a PEI duo. At 2-2 with three games to play, Smith-Rehbein had moved into the fourth playoff position. They solidified the position on the late draw with a third victory. With Sunday games against two teams below them in the standings, they control their own playoff fate.

In the Open Division, Warren Johnson & Dan McDonald had a two win day Saturday. Their 2-1 Saturday gives them a 3-2 record with a game to play Sunday. They currently hold down the third playoff position from their pool.

The Manitoba group in Moncton:
(l-r) Warren Johnson, Lynne Rehbein, Dan McDonald, Gwen Smith, Fred Spiring, Tom Campbell, Britta Spiring, Resby Coutts (the tall one behind), Rae Campbell, Norm Magnusson

Magnusson & Coutts split two games Saturday and, with two to play on Sunday, have a 3-1 record and hold the second playoff position from the pool.

Britta & Fred Spiring lost three on Saturday after a two wins first day. At 2-3, the chance of them advancing is slim but still exists based on the right combination of wins & losses on Sunday.

Tom & Rae Campbell lost two Saturday. at 1-3, the former Canadian champions will miss the playoff round.

(Friday, April 22: 8PM) MANITOBA TEAMS 6W-4L ON FIRST DAY OF STICK CHAMPIONSHIP A pair of Manitoba teams won two games on opening day at the Canadian Stick Curling Championship, two teams went 1W-1L, and one had a tough day with two losses.

The team of Britta and Fred Spiring and the Norm Magnusson-R. Coutts duo are the first teams to post 2W-0L records in their respective seven-team pools.

Warren Johnson & Dan McDonald and Tom & Rae Campbell both won their openers but lost their second games of the day and sit in the middle of the pack in their groups.

The four teams are all competing in the Canadian Open Championship. Tom & Rae Campbell won the championship in 2018. Warren Johnson won it in 2012 with Earl Stephenson.

Tom Campbell gets the ‘shot of the day’ award, at least among the Manitoba teams. Down one coming home in their first game, the Campbells elected to play a difficult double kill rather than draw the eight foot for a tie and extra end. He had a stone of his own near frozen to the shot rock. His big weight hit sprung off his own stone, killing the shot rock and his delivered stone doubled out the second shot rock. He stuck in the top of the 12 foot for second shot and the win.

In the Women’s Championship, Gwen Smith & Lynne Rehbein lost a pair of close games. Gwen Smith gets honorable mention in the ‘shot of the day contest. On ice curling over two feet with good hit weight, Smith threw a nose hit kill on a rock in the four foot that was over-buried by over a foot. From the lobby side, it was obvious that centre line guard was no where near the line to protect the shot stone. From the throwing end, Smith just had to believe what she knew should happen.

MAGNUSSON-COUTTS WIN CANADIAN STICK OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

(Monday, April 25: 9:30PM) (Publisher’s note: It is an interesting professional challenge to win a significant championship event – but then be the only available person to actually write about it. Forgive me if I cross the line between objective reporter and “wow – we were good”.)

Coutts & Magnusson (r) with CIBC Wood Gundy Rep

The Manitoba duo of Norm Magnusson and Resby Coutts have won the 2022 edition of the Canadian 2-Person Stick Curling Open Championship in Moncton. A three win Monday, including a pair of extra end victories, earned them the championship, the first under the new sponsorship of CIBC Wood Gundy.

The final game victory over Darren & Darrel Beach (SK) was a story of ‘no quit’. Down 4-0 after two ends, a deuce on the third started a comeback. Single steals on the fourth and sixth, after a blanked fifth, created a tie and extra end.

Under the 2-person sport’s unique rules, there is no hitting until the fourth rock of the end. A centre guard was followed by a draw top eight foot behind the guard. Three times, the Saskatchewan team removed the guard but missed the runback. Three times the guard was replaced. With his last rock of the extra end, Magnusson’s final draw attempt slid deep, coming to rest almost perfectly beside the shot stone. It was a deceptively difficult double kill. The hit overcurled to the nose of one of them, leaving a third steal and a 5-4 championship win.

The key to both the quarterfinal and semifinal wins was the Magnusson-Coutts ability to score a single deuce in each game. In the six rocks-six end game, a two is a big score to overcome. In both games, Magnusson made the key shots. The quarterfinal saw him bite the rings behind a wide corner guard – a rock that was “in” for 2 on a measure after he had an open draw to the rings with his last rock on the second end. In the semifinal, it was a wide out-turn hit past a guard about three feet from the wall that Magnusson ‘stuck’ for the deuce. On that remarkable shot, he nose hit a rock in the full 12 ft circle which was almost fully buried behind the guard.

In the quarterfinal, John Marshall & Haylett Clarke (NS) followed with a single and a steal of one to tie after four ends. A blanked fifth end led to a single, and 3-2 win, without having to throw the last stone coming home.

The semi followed the same pattern, the deuce against former champions Dave McDougal & Paul Doucet (NS) was followed by a single and a steal of one to tie after six ends. In the extra end, again the last rock was not needed for a 4-3 win.

It was almost a Manitoba final. The Manitoba duo of Warren Johnson & Dan McDonald lost the semi-final to the Beach team from Saskatchewan after a quarterfinal victory over Bob Desnoyers & Shawn Sherwood (SK).

In the Women’s Championship final, Betty Matson & Audrey Dorey (NS) were 5-4 extra end winners over Elaine Hughes & Etta Reid (PEI).

Coutts (l) & Magnusson (5W-1L) (Curl Moncton Photo)

(Sunday, April 24: 8:30PM) TWO MANITOBA TEAMS ADVANCE TO CANADIAN STICK CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFFS Manitoba teams of Warren Johnson & Dan McDonald and Norm Magnusson & Resby Coutts have survived to play in the Monday OPEN Championship round in Moncton.

Magnusson-Coutts won a pair of games on Sunday, including a last round showdown with Shawn Sherwood & Bob Desnoyers (Saskatchewan) who were undefeated. Both finished with 5W-1L records but the Manitobans’ victory earns them a bye to the 10AM quarter-finals while Sherwood-Desnoyers had to win a first round playoff game at 8:30PM.

Dan McDonald (l) & Warren Johnson (4W-2L) Curl Moncton Photo

Johnson-McDonald pulled off an early Sunday win over Martin Purvis & Jack Smart (Alberta) to improve to 4W-2L. Then they had to wait nervously for the rest of the group’s results throughout the day. In the end, the early win had earned them third place in the pool.

The Manitoba ‘shot of the day’ has to be ‘shots of the day’ by Dan McDonald as he and Warren Johnson followed a three on the fifth end with a steal and their fourth victory to earn the playoff berth.

As described by Warren after the game, Dan’s precision shooting got them shot stone behind a couple of well placed guards. The opponent’s attempted hit and roll rolled out leaving the steal.

Along with Magnusson-Coutts, the pool winners were AJ Scott & Greg Lowe (SK), former champions Dave McDougal & Paul Doucet (NS), and Darren & Darrel Beach (SK). McDougal & Doucet were the only undefeated team in round-robin play.

In total in the Open playoffs, there are team from Saskatchewan (3), Alberta, Manitoba, BC and Nova Scotia (2 each), and one from Prince Edward Island.

Johnson-McDonald needed an extra in the Sunday evening playoff round to advance to the Monday quarter-finals. They posted a 6-4 win over Desnoyers-Sherwood (SK). The Manitobans will play AJ Scott & Greg Lowe (SK); Magnusson-Coutts will play John Marshall-Haylett-Clarke (NS); Darren & Darrel Beach (SK) meet John Dunsford-Myrna Sanderson (PEI); and Dave McDougal & Paul Doucet (NS) play Darrel Sears-Wayne Heinrichs (BC).

The four team Women’s playoff round will feature teams from Alberta (2), Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island

Manitobans Fred & Britta Spiring (3W-3L) and Tom & Rae Campbell (2W-3L) both missed the playoffs in the Open Championship. Gwen Smith & Lynne Rehbein (3W-4L) missed the playoffs in the Women’s Championship.

Gwen Smith (l) & Lynne Rehbein (Curl Moncton Photo)

(Updated Sunday, April 24: 7AM) MANITOBA TEAMS STILL IN THE PLAYOFF CHASE AT STICK CHAMPIONSHIP After an 0-2 opening day, Gwen Smith & Lynne Rehbein jumped back into contention in the Canadian Stick Championship Women’s Division in Moncton with a three victories Saturday. Rehbein gets the Manitoba ‘shot of the day’ award for her last shot on the opening day of the first game on the early draw. Facing four with her last shot, Rehbein’s double kill rolled to the face of an opposition stone to create a steal.

The shot killed the very early momentum of their BC opponent enroute to an 8-1 win which was followed later by a 6-2 win over a PEI duo. At 2-2 with three games to play, Smith-Rehbein had moved into the fourth playoff position. They solidified the position on the late draw with a third victory. With Sunday games against two teams below them in the standings, they control their own playoff fate.

In the Open Division, Warren Johnson & Dan McDonald had a two win day Saturday. Their 2-1 Saturday gives them a 3-2 record with a game to play Sunday. They currently hold down the third playoff position from their pool.

The Manitoba group in Moncton:
(l-r) Warren Johnson, Lynne Rehbein, Dan McDonald, Gwen Smith, Fred Spiring, Tom Campbell, Britta Spiring, Resby Coutts (the tall one behind), Rae Campbell, Norm Magnusson

Magnusson & Coutts split two games Saturday and, with two to play on Sunday, have a 3-1 record and hold the second playoff position from the pool.

Britta & Fred Spiring lost three on Saturday after a two wins first day. At 2-3, the chance of them advancing is slim but still exists based on the right combination of wins & losses on Sunday.

Tom & Rae Campbell lost two Saturday. at 1-3, the former Canadian champions will miss the playoff round.

(Friday, April 22: 8PM) MANITOBA TEAMS 6W-4L ON FIRST DAY OF STICK CHAMPIONSHIP A pair of Manitoba teams won two games on opening day at the Canadian Stick Curling Championship, two teams went 1W-1L, and one had a tough day with two losses.

The team of Britta and Fred Spiring and the Norm Magnusson-R. Coutts duo are the first teams to post 2W-0L records in their respective seven-team pools.

Warren Johnson & Dan McDonald and Tom & Rae Campbell both won their openers but lost their second games of the day and sit in the middle of the pack in their groups.

The four teams are all competing in the Canadian Open Championship. Tom & Rae Campbell won the championship in 2018. Warren Johnson won it in 2012 with Earl Stephenson.

Tom Campbell gets the ‘shot of the day’ award, at least among the Manitoba teams. Down one coming home in their first game, the Campbells elected to play a difficult double kill rather than draw the eight foot for a tie and extra end. He had a stone of his own near frozen to the shot rock. His big weight hit sprung off his own stone, killing the shot rock and his delivered stone doubled out the second shot rock. He stuck in the top of the 12 foot for second shot and the win.

In the Women’s Championship, Gwen Smith & Lynne Rehbein lost a pair of close games. Gwen Smith gets honorable mention in the ‘shot of the day contest. On ice curling over two feet with good hit weight, Smith threw a nose hit kill on a rock in the four foot that was over-buried by over a foot. From the lobby side, it was obvious that centre line guard was no where near the line to protect the shot stone. From the throwing end, Smith just had to believe what she knew should happen.

JUST MY OPINION: 2-PERSON STICK OFFERS UNIQUE CHALLENGES

People scoffed initially at the idea of Mixed Doubles curling. It’ll never catch on Canadians said with a fair bit of arrogance – but it has. Around the world people love the pace and the shorter game, among other what they consider advantages.

If I’d said to you 4 years ago, that Italy would win more gold curling medals at the 2022 Olympics than Canada – you’d have laughed out loud

Curling is ripe for new versions of the sport – Mixed Doubles is, I suggest just the first!

Which does not in any way suggest that 2-person stick is the next phenomenon. Maybe it will always be a niche game played by an older demographic.

But if you’re a ‘regular’ curler who has read this far, think about the unique rules of 2-person Stick play and tell me you can beat the best of these guys, even if they are older than you.

** NO SWEEPING – until the delivered rock gets to the second hogline. Elite curler ability to carry the rock further and ‘carve’ it more than ever before are remarkable to behold. A draw to the button behind cover without sweeping maybe even more remarkable to behold.

** NO HITTING until rock #4. This is the 2-person stick version of the placed rocks in Mixed Doubles – immediate creation of rocks in play. The ‘no-hit’ rule applies to all rocks: rocks in the rings OR rocks in the traditional free guard zone. I wonder if a version of this should actually be tried in 4’s curling. The experiment with the no-tick-if-touching-centre has been interesting. What if 4’s adopted a version of the 2-person stick rule (can’t hit any rock) until perhaps the 6th rock of the end.

** EVERY SHOT EVERY OTHER END – each player plays all six rocks every end. I throw six down – you call the shots. You throw six back – I call the shots. You can’t be a draw specialist, a hit specialist, a tick specialist in our game – you have to be able to draw, hit and roll, tick (although it is not played all that often) – you may have to play any shot, and every possible shot, in a single end.

** 6 Rocks – 6 Ends: It is fast game, completed in an hour at the recreation or competitive level. You don’t have those 7th-8th-9th-10th ends to recover from early mistakes. It is attack from the first end in our version of the game with a lot of rocks in play most of the time. Occasionally a ‘blanking’ game will occur between two high skill hitting teams. Six ends is not long enough to be boring and it is too short to recover when you accidentally stick on that late ends blank attempt.

The key to our game is that the 2-person stick competitors still have to be able to read ice. When you don’t have sweepers to help put the rock where you want it, you better be real close on the ice call (and of course your partner has to hit the broom and give you the right number of rotations) as there is no salvation once the rock is released.

If you’ve read this far, my point is this. Don’t scoff when you hear I and many others have become excited by the challenge and the competition of 2-person stick curling. As I discovered in our third game of the recent Manitoba provincial event at Assiniboine Memorial (against Pembina’s Peter Rey) – I once again have an outlet for my competitive spirit that has been missing on the curling ice. Turns out you’re always a competitor. Maybe with the years of experience we have behind us and with (at least some of us) carrying a few too many pounds – we may not look like the athletes we once thought we were but we are still competitors.

The challenge is – how much practice time would you like to learn how to use a stick, before you’re willing to play us – using our rules.

No, I don’t suggest that 2-person stick curling is going to be the awarded the next Olympic medals. I do suggest it is just another version of our game which is going to expand the sport of curling and the population of curlers in our clubs – and that’s a good thing.

CDN 2-PERSON STICK CHAMPIONSHIP UNDERWAY IN MONCTON

Curl Moncton is hosting a pair of national 2-person Stick Curling Championships this weekend – an Open which encompasses 27 mixed and men’s teams and a Women’s event which includes eight women’s teams.

The Open represents the unique nature of this version of the sport: the opportunity for a completely age, gender, and abilities neutral competition as men-women, young-old, wheelchair and fully mobile curlers compete equally on the field of play at the same time.

On the two championships, there is provincial representation from nine provinces. The representation is:
BC: 6 Teams (4 Open – 2 Women)
Alberta: 5 Teams (3 Open – 2 Women)
Saskatchewan: 3 Teams
Manitoba: 5 Teams (4 Open – 1 Women)
Ontario: 2 Teams (2 Open)
Quebec: 1 Team (1 Open)
New Brunswick: 5 Teams (5 Open)
PEI: 3 Teams (1 Open – 2 Women)
Nova Scotia: 4 Teams (3 Open – 1 Women)

In the Canadian Stick Curling Association Annual Meeting, President Randy Olson ran an efficient meeting which dealt with the usual association concerns relating to approval of constitution and by-laws and review of rules – important details at the first AGM of the organization formally constituted over the past year.

The CSCA’s Host site selection committee recommended that the 2023 national events will be played in Nanaimo, BC and the 2024 events will be played at the Leaside club in Toronto.

In the election of Directors, NB’s Sherril Minns concluded an initial one-year term and was re-elected. Manitoban Warren Johnson completed his initial one-year term and decided not to continue. He has been replaced by your writer. Continuing on the Executive are Randy Olson (AB), Britta Spiring (MB), and Bruce Densmore (NS).

BEAUDRY NEW MANAGER AT CHARLESWOOD

Guy Beaudry’s new ‘pre-retirement’ job as the new Manager of the Charleswood Curling Club began with just over a month left in the season. It seems fitting, however, that the last event of the season and his first major event as Manager was helping to host CurlManitoba’s Canad Inns Youth Bonspiel.

Guy Beaudry

Beaudry’s name has been closely associated with junior curling in Manitoba over the last decade as a volunteer junior organizer at St. Vital and as coach of his daughters’ junior teams. He’ll continue that volunteer role at St. Vital next winter as he immerses himself in other aspects of Charleswood’s programs.

Beaudry describes the new job as “very much a part time thing”. He will continue his professional career as Business Manager of the U of M’s Faculty of Environment but acknowledges that, at the age of 60, the time is coming when that will come to an end. He was interested in getting involved at Charleswood as a way to be involved in a different way in the sport and as a way of exploring post-retirement options.

He says, with a smile, the start at Charleswood with about a month left in this season was “a good way to find out where the buzzer and light switches are.” Obviously, it was also a good way to get to know the Board members he will be working with and the overall personality of the club.

Beaudry has not yet had a chance to meet with Jim McRae, the long-time Junior program organizer at his new club. However, he does not visualize any immediate direct involvement as he doesn’t want to get in the way of a program that has worked well in bringing large numbers of young people into the club on Saturdays.

What he does see is opportunities created by existing blank spaces in the club’s scheduling. Among the events and leagues he foresees talking with the Board of Directors about is a Stick League, a Doubles League, a Junior bonspiel, and perhaps some CurlManitoba berth bonspiels.

HODGE RETIRES AS FORT ROUGE MANAGER

Jeff Hodge

The longest serving of Winnipeg’s curling club managers, Jeff Hodge, has announced his retirement as Manager of the Fort Rouge Curling Club.

Hodge has advised the Board of Directors and club members that he will be ‘stepping back” at the end of April. He admits that ‘covid’ did have a small role to play in his decision but not what you might expect.

“I didn’t know how much I would enjoy not having the day-to-day stress and worries of managing the club until I was off work during the pandemic,” he says.

He has been FRCC’s Manager for 19 years and remembers well the day he learned he had been hired for the position. He had served as the club’s Junior President (1983-84), as a member of the Board of Directors and as the Board’s President (2000-01). He was just two years off the Board with a lot of pride in the club. “I wanted the job because I felt there was so much more we could do and I wanted to be part of moving the club forward to reach its potential,” he says.

Asked to recall special memories of his time as Manager, Hodge struggles – he says there are so many.

“One very special memory is the way we successfully hosted the Canadian Mixed Championship in 2019,” he recalls.  The Rouge has hosted provincial championships and even some national firefighters events but the opportunity to showcase his club in a national championship was special to Hodge. “Chair Brad McLean, a great committee and hard-working volunteers did a great job and I remember how much fun it was doing that event,” he says.

Hodge acknowledges the real special memories are probably things only a club manager would think of as special.

In the 2006-07 season, Fort Rouge spent almost the whole year figuring out the water issue that plagued Fort Rouge ice for years.

“I spent the whole year ‘sleuthing’, working with Greg Ewasko, who was handling our ice and Heather’s. We tried UV lights and carbon filters and water softeners before we found the right combination of carbon filters, water softener and RO (reverse osmosis) system. We were the first clubs to implement that system in Manitoba – now almost everyone has it,” he says with obvious pride.

Hodge also points at the Fort Rouge club’s business plan and finances. Admittedly, like other clubs, they took a hit during the covid shutdown but overall, the planned funding of infrastructure improvements, implementation of a capital fund, development of a ten-year planning process, and a more business-like approach to increasing membership fee levels are all in place at Fort Rouge. While he took a leadership role in these areas, he is thankful to the Board volunteers who have played a key role in these developments. The fact they have happened during his time as Club Manager is a source of satisfaction.

By sharing Rouge’s ideas with other clubs, and borrowing ideas from other clubs to bring back to Fort Rouge, through the Winnipeg Club Association meetings, the retiring Manager also feels he has made a contribution to curling in Winnipeg, not just at his own club.

As noted above, he acknowledges the role and contribution of the Board volunteers and especially Past-Presidents. As a Past-President himself, he knows the Manager works both with and for the Board and President.

Dangerous as it might be to single out individuals, Hodge offers a few as examples of the leadership provided to his club by the volunteers. “Treasurer D’Arcy Clendenan played a pivotal role in turning around our finances upon becoming Treasurer in 2003. Past President Ernie Wilson could not have been more supportive of the work we were doing to solve the water issues in 2006-07, Past President Craig Jones, more when he was a Director, was very involved in the move to develop a ten-year planning process at Fort Rouge and Past President Keith Johnston provided his IT expertise to modernize our processes, such as online registration and payment,” he says. “Those are just some of the examples of the kind of volunteer leadership Fort Rouge has always been lucky to have.”

Once a pretty competitive player (winner of three MCA bonspiel trophies and  provincial championship berths), Jeff Hodge hasn’t played for a few years and admits he misses it. He says he might take a break from the club next year but Fort Rouge members can expect to see him back on the ice “probably the year after next.”

When he does return to the ice, it can only be at Fort Rouge for a guy who has bled Fort Rouge Green & Gold since that year as Junior President in 1983 – 40 years ago!

(Editor’s Note: As a Fort Rouge club member and league organizer, it has always been a pleasure to work with Jeff on projects big and small. On behalf of all Fort Rouge members, I’ll presume to say THANK YOU!! and GOOD LUCK IN THE FUTURE!!)

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