FINALS DAY FOR U-18’S & MASTERS WOMEN

Three Manitoba curling championships will wrap up today: the Masters Women at Assiniboine Memorial (final at 4PM) and the U-18 Men & Women at Heather (finals at 6PM).

At Heather, the Page Playoff draws are set for 9AM with semi-finals at 2PM. The U-18 Women’s draw features a pair of unbeaten rural teams in the 1V1 game (winner to the final, loser to the semi-final). Dayna Wahl (Altona) and Zoey Terrick (Neepawa) advanced with perfect 4W-0L records. In the Page bottom side elimination game, Grace Beaudry (St. Vital) will play Emily Ogg (AMCC). Both teams advanced with 3W-1L records.

In the U-18 Men’s championship, no team survived round robin play unbeaten. All four playoff teams advanced with single losses, the only teams with only one loss on their record. Provincial Junior Champion Jordon McDonald (Deer Lodge) meets Carter Marshall (St. Vital) in the Page top-side game with the winner advancing to the final. In the bottom side elimination game Ronan Peterson (Ft. Rouge) plays Ryan Ostrowsky (West St. Paul).

At Assiniboine Memorial, the top three teams all finished with 3W-1L records. Judy Colwell (East St. Paul), Laurie Deprez (Stonewall) and Sandra Cowling (Hamiota) all beat each other in the round robin. As a result of the last-shot draw ‘contest’, Colwell’s team was awarded the bye to the final game where the East St. Paul skip will try to win her first provincial championship. Deprez and Cowling, both former Senior Women’s champions, will meet in the semi-final.

In the Masters Men’s, the playoff picture is simple but the last two teams will be determined in head-to-head games on the last round-robin draws. Murray Warren (6W-0L) will advance to the Page 1-1 game. Second place will go to the winner of a game between Gord McTavish (Pembina) and Dale Brooks (Hamiota). Brooks is at 4W-2L while McTavish is 5W-1L. If both finish 5W-2L, Brooks will advance thanks to the win. If McTavish wins, his team gets seconds place due to the earlier loss to Brandon’s Warren team.

In the other pool, Greg McGibbon (Granite) is the unbeaten team at 6W-0L and will finish first. Jim Renwick (Brandon) and Mark Franklin (Granite), both with 5W-1L records, will face off at 12:30 Sunday with the winner earning the second playoff berth from the group.

PEMBINA TEAM WINS YOUTH ‘SPIEL U-13 DIVISION

The Johnson team ‘hurries hard’ in the final game

A Pembina team skipped by Kailah Johnson defeated Danika Chartrand’s Petersfield team to win the U-13 Division of the Canad Inns Youth Bonspiel. Both teams had won three games out of four in their round-robin series when they met in the final game.

In the third place game, Calli Goethe and a Swan River team were the winners over Pembina’s Tiernan Bertrand-Meadows foursome.

The Bertrand-Meadows (Ainslee Card, Annalise Page-Burns, Miles Girardin) team was also one of two winners of the Fair Play Awards, determined by team voting as each team gave their opponent a Fair Play ranking after each game played.

The second Fair Play Award in the U-13 Division went to St. Vital’s Alexandre Newcombe team (Alex Home, Liam Cleary, Matthew Livetsky)

U-13 Division Winners: Pembina – Skip Kailah Johnson, 3rd Nancy Pu, 2nd Connor Sahaidak, Lead Nataya Johnson, Coach Christina Johnson
U-13 Division Finalists: Petersfield – Skip Danika Chartrand, 3rd Cassidy Laing, 2nd Autumn Clifton, Lead Aurora Marynowski, Alternate Josephine Jolicoeur, Coach Randy Kolomaya
U-13 Division third Place: Swan River – Skip Calli Goethe, 3rd Addison Hunt, 2nd Katie Hunt, Lead Darbi Barker, Coach Kari Goethe
U-13 Fourth Place: Pembina – Skip Tiernan Bertrand-Meadows, 2nd Annalise Page-Burns, Miles Girardin, Coach Shelley Bertrand-Meadows

OSTROWSKY & WEST ST. PAUL TEAM WIN U-18 YOUTH BONSPIEL

Ryan Ostrowsky delivers

In a tune-up for next week’s CurlManitoba u-18 Provincial Championship, Ryan Ostrowsky and his West St. Paul team went undefeated this weekend to win the Canad Inns Youth Bonspiel’s U-18 Division.

The Ostrowsky foursome won three round-robin games and a semi-final before winning the Sunday afternoon final game over Meghan Lagadi and her Pembina team.

Carter Walker’s Assiniboine Memorial team won the third place playoff with a victory over St. Vital’s Hannah Patton team.

U-18 Division Winners: West St. Paul – Skip Ryan Ostrowsky, 3rd Jack Steski, Lead Logan Strand, Coach Carlene Strand (Missing 2nd Luke Robins)
U-18 Division Finalists: Pembina – Coach Gerry Lagadi, Skip Meghan Lagadi, 3rd Jenna Williment, 2nd Abby Romaniuk, Lead Hailey Hall, Alternate Paul Graham
U-18 Division Third Place: Assiniboine Memorial – Skip Carter Walker, 3rd Connor Woodward, 2nd Graeme Sikora, Lead Jack MacDonald, Coach Brad Walker
U-18 Division Fourth Place: St. Vital – Skip Hannah Patton, 2nd Molly Cooper, Lead Kaely McLean, Co-coach Christy Patton (Missing 3rd Emerson Cauthers, Co-coach Paula Cauthers)

MORDEN’S SUGDEN TEAM WINS U-15 BONSPIEL

Tyler Fehr delivers for Team Sugden

The Nash Sugden team from Morden, with Tyler Fehr calling the shots and throwing last stones, defeated Pembina’s Luc Cormier team in the Sunday afternoon final game of the Canad Inns Youth Bonspiel U-15 Division.

The winning team, which played the final with three as Nash Sugden sat out due to illness, were undefeated in the bonspiel. They won their five round-robin games and two playoff games to advance to the final.

In the 3rd place playoff game, a Pembina team skipped by Karys Buchalter was the winner over the Caitlyn McPherson team from Assiniboine Memorial.

The U-15 Division’s Fair Play Awards, based on an accumulated ranking with each team rating their opponent after every game, were won by the Jessica Campbell team (Desirae Blunden, Danielle Livestky, Jordon Schroeder) from St. Vital and the Emily Mykula team (Kate Patterson, Bronwyn Trevellyan, Lexi Leadbeater) from Swan River.

Winners of the U-15 Division: Morden – Skip Nash Sugden, 3rd Tyler Fehr, 2nd Tanner Treichel, Lead Ryan Thiessen, Coach Sue Sugden
Finalists U-15 Division: Pembina – Skip Luc Cormier, 3rd Adair Spulnick, 2nd Quinn Lagace, Lead Miles Lagadi, Coach Rej Lagace (Missing 5th Liam Burton)
Third U-15 Division: Pembina – Karys Buchalter, 3rd Ella Robins, 2nd Amy Buchalter, Lead Eva le Heiget, Alternate Abigail Vander Aa, Coach Denis Le Heiget
Fourth U-15 Division: Assiniboine Memorial – Skip Caitlyn McPherson, 3rd Katie McDonald, 2nd Bailey Gunn, Lead Ella Keough, Coach Rob Keough

YOUTH WINTER ‘SPIEL UNDERWAY

140 young curlers – 35 teams – from 6 Winnipeg clubs, 8 rural Manitoba communities and 1 Northern Ontario community – playing in two Winnipeg curling rinks.

Those are the numbers for this year’s Canad Inns Youth Winter Bonspiel underway at Charleswood and Deer Lodge. The event is played in three age divisions : U-13 (9 teams), U-15 (18 teams), and U-18 (8 teams).

The event is intended to be more recreational than competitive. However, in the older age group about half the teams will also play in next weekend’s CurlManitoba U-18 Championship. They are the teams who are beginning to make the transition in their development as curlers toward being more competitive.

Pembina (8 teams) and St. Vital (6 teams) are the most- represented curling clubs. The others of the six Winnipeg clubs are Assiniboine Memorial (3 teams), Fort Garry (2) and Granite & Fort Rouge (1 each). From outside Winnipeg, there are three Swan River teams and two each from Ste Anne and West St. Paul. Single teams have come from Brandon, La Salle, Lorette, Morden, and Petersfield, .

The two out-of-province teams have come from Kakabeka Falls, near Thunder Bay.

The competition is being played in a round-robin pools format with final games in each division set for 3PM on Sunday at Deer Lodge.

Equally important to the event is an emphasis on FAIR PLAY. After each game, each team is asked to rank their opponent and prizes as also awarded based on Fair Play rankings.

TEAM EINARSON WINS WORLD BRONZE, SWITZERLAND OVER KOREA IN THE FINAL

Switzerland’s Silvana Tironzoni team defeated Korea’s Eun-Jung Kim team 7-6 in the gold medal final game of the Women’s World Championships in Prince George, BC.  It was the third consecutive championship for the Tironzoni team and the seventh for Switzerland in the past ten years.

Team Switzerland swept through the round-robin undefeated and completed a perfect week in Prince George with a semi-final win over Sweden before beating Korea in the final.

Canada’s Kerri Einarson foursome earned a bronze medal with a victory over Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg. It was the first Canadian medal since Jennifer Jones and her team won the gold medal in 2018 in North Bay. The medal is a first world medal for Einarson, Val Sweeting and Brianne Meilleur and a second one for Shannon Birchard who was the Jones team alternate in 2018.

Team Canada: Kerri Einarson, Shannon Birchard, Val Sweeting, Brianne Meilleur (Curling Canada Photo- Michael Burns)

Team Canada finished the round robin with three losses, including a round robin loss (8-7 extra end) to Korea which put them third in the standings. They defeated Denmark 9-8 in the quarter-final before losing their semi-final rematch with Korea.

The medal winning trend since 2000 is interesting. While Switzerland has won those seven gold medals in ten years, they missed the medals in the other three years of the past ten. In the prior 12 years, Switzerland won only three medals, none of them gold.

In the past ten years, Canada has tied with Switzerland with a total of seven medals, but only two of them were gold. In the 22 years since 2000, Canada and Switzerland have both won seven gold medals. Canada ranks #1 in total medals with 16 while Sweden is #2 with 11 and Switzerland is #3 with ten.

Despite Canada having won a medal in about 75% of the time, it is the gold medal count that most curling fans are interested in and two in the past ten years is below standard. With each passing year, the pressure mounts on the Canadian team, whoever represents this country at the Worlds.

It will be interesting to see if one of the new line-ups announced for next year will be going to the worlds to face that pressure OR if an intact Team Einarson can win a fourth consecutive Scotties and a return trip to the Worlds. This year’s experience will no doubt be an asset if that happens.

NEUFELD, URSEL TEAMS WIN FOURTH MANITOBA SENIOR TITLES

Manitoba will send a pair of four-time Manitoba Senior champion teams to the 2022 Canadian Seniors in the fall of this year.

Randy Neufeld, Dean Moxham, Peter Nicholls and Dale Michie won together in 2015, 2016 and 2021. They repeated again today in Beausejour – winning a morning semi-final in six ends over Murray Warren (Brandon) and then beating Richard Muntain’s Granite team in the final.

Fourth time champions!! (l-r) Randy Neufeld, Dean Moxham, Peter Nicholls, Dale Michie

Muntain, as Page 1-1 winner, started with last rock and scored a skip’s pair with a draw behind a corned guard on his first, then a draw to the four foot for two after Neufeld came just short trying to follow the first shot. From there, however, it was Neufeld’s game.

He made a runback kill for three on end #2, forced Muntain to a single on #3, and had an open draw for five after Muntain just rubbed attempting a game-saving double (maybe triple) kill. Up 8-3 at the break, Neufeld stole another on the fifth end when Muntain’s hit facing two rolled far enough to require a measure of two rocks biting the four foot.

Facing two more on the sixth end, Muntain drew to the button and conceded the 9-4 victory.

On the Senior Women’s side, Terry Ursel and front end players Tracy Igonia and Brenda Walker won in 2017, 2019 and 2020. Their third Wanda Rainka won in 2019 and 2020, replacing Gwen Wooley who was the third for the Neepawa team’s first championship run.

Like Muntain, Ursel had last rock on the first end and scored a pair. After stealing another on the second and giving up one on the third, Ursel had Judy Colwell looking at three with her last. Colwell removed only one, leaving Ursel a draw for three and a 6-1 lead after four ends. A steal of three more on the fifth ended the game.

Fourth time champions!! (l-r) Terry Ursel, Wanda Rainka, Brenda Walker, Tracy Igonia, 5th Darla Hanke
Randy Neufeld with sweepers Dean Moxham (l) and Dale Michie

(Monday, March 21, 11AM) MUNTAIN-NEUFELD, URSEL-COLWELL SENIOR FINALS: Randy Neufeld and his La Salle team were 7-1 winners over Murray Warren (Brandon) in the Strathcona Senior Men’s semi-final in Beausejour Monday morning. Warren had run a string of six wins to start the event, including a round-robin win over Neufeld, then lost three in a row to bow out of the competition.

The defending champion Neufeld team will now play Richard Muntain’s Granite foursome in the final at 1PM.

The Senior Women’s final will see Terry Ursel and her Neepawa team challenged by Judy Colwell (East St. Paul). Colwell defeated defending champion clubmate Kim Link and her team in the morning semi-final. In a game which featured many stones in play on every end, Colwell scored four singles to open the game. Link had a makeable double for three on the 5th end but didn’t curl up quite enough and scored only one. A steal on the sixth gave Link some hope but a single for Colwell gave her a three-point lead coming home and Link had no shot with her last.

Always stones in play! Last rock (red) to come and yellow counting. The yellow Link counter wasn’t moved but the steal of one (down 4-2) wasn’t enough.

(Sunday, March 20, 6:30PM) MUNTAIN INTO SENIOR MEN’S FINAL, LINK WINS SR WOMEN’S TIEBREAKER: After winning six in row, Murray Warren’s Brandon team lost two games Sunday. They lost their final round-robin game 5-4 to Mike Mahon and then were beaten 4-2 Sunday evening in the Page 1-1 game by Richard Muntain (Granite). Muntain advances direct to the Monday 1PM final.

Warren drops to the morning semi-final against defending champion Randy Neufeld (LaSalle) who eliminated Rob Van Kommer with a 7-1 victory in the Page 2-2 game.

In the Senior Women’s tiebreaker, defending champion Kim Link (East St. Paul) was an 8-4 winner over Norma Purdy in the tiebreaker. Link will play clubmate Judy Colwell in the Monday morning semi-final. The winner advances to play Terry Ursel in the final

(Sunday, March 20, 7PM) VAN KOMMER WINS SR MEN’S TIEBREAKER; LINK-PURDY MEET IN SR WOMEN’S TIEBREAKER: When all the wins and losses were tallied at the end of the Strathcona Senior Men’s round robin Beausejour, Murray Warren (Brandon) has lost his perfect record, but still finished first in his pool. Richard Muntain (Granite) had won a sixth game and finished first in his pool. Randy Neufeld (LaSalle) had won a fifth game and finished second behind Warren.

And two teams, Rob Van Kommer (Carberry) and Allan Gitzel (Morris) were the only teams involved in a tiebreaker game. Both were 5W-2L behind Muntain. Van Kommer won the tiebreaker 7-4 to advance to the Sunday evening Page 2-2 game against former champion Neufeld.

The Page 1-1 game, between Warren and Muntain, will also be played Sunday evening.

It was not as clean and simple in the CurlManitoba Senior Women’s Championship. Three-time former champion Terry Ursel (Neepawa) finished the round-robin in first place with a 6W-1L record. They earn the bye to the provincial final game on Sunday at 1PM.

There is a second place 4W-3L tie between four teams: Judy Colwell, Norma Purdy, Kim Link, and Darcy Robertson. Based on the CurlManitoba tiebreaker policy which involves head-to-head results plus the pre-game button draw and just one tiebreaker game, Judy Colwell (East St. Paul) has been awarded second place. Link (East St. Paul) and Purdy (St Vital) will play a Sunday evening tiebreaker game for the chance to play Colwell Monday morning at 9AM. Robertson is on the outside looking in.

(Saturday, March 19, 10:30PM) WARREN, URSEL ADVANCE TO SENIORS’ PLAYOFFS: Murray Warren and his Deloraine-Melita team, playing out of Brandon, are still unbeaten in the Strathcona Senior Men’s in Beausejour. Their 6W-0L record means that with only a game to play in the round-robin, they cannot be caught and will advance to the playoffs.

In the CurlManitoba Senior Women’s, Terry Ursel and her Neepawa team have a 5W-1L record and are assured of advancing no matter the result of their final game against defending champion Kim Link (East St. Paul), whose record is 4W-2L. A Link win on the noon draw Sunday will mean both will finish at 5W-2L and the two will advance.

In the other Men’s pool, Richard Muntain (Granite) also has a 5W-1L record but advancing is not yet a certainty.

There is great potential for several ties for the other playoff positions and for the tiebreaker scenarios to be implemented.

In Warren’s Senior Men’s Pool, Randy Neufeld (La Salle) is at 4W-2L and plays Ray Baker (Dauphin), who is at 3W-3L, in a re-match of last fall’s final. If Baker wins, both will be at 4W-3L. Two other 3W-3L teams will be cheering for Baker. Mike Mahon (Granite) and Allan Croy (Petersfield) need to win and hope for the Baker win to get into the logjam. Mahon plays Warren. Croy plays 2W-4L Sam Antila (Thompson).

The Muntain pool is even more confused as four teams can finish tied for first at 5W-2L. Muntain plays 4W-2L Neil Okumura (Pembina). Also at 4W-2L, Rob Van Kommer (Carberry), and Allan Gitzel (Morris) can be in that first place tie. Gitzel plays 2W-4L Derek Dowsett (Stonewall) and Van Kommer plays 1W-5L Dale Brooks (Hamiota). Also in the conversation is Dave Boehmer (Petersfield) who is 3W-3L. A Boehmer win over 1W-5L Bill Menzies (Granite), along with losses by Okumura, Van Kommer, and Gitzel would mean a four-way second place tie at 4W-3L.

In the Senior Women’s, there will be a three team playoff with #2 VS #3 and the winner playing #1 but other than Ursel there is no certainty who will be in the playoffs. There is absolutely no clarity yet on positioning.

If Link Beats Ursel, they’ll both be 5W-2L and finish Link #1 and Ursel #2 due to the result of the head-to-head. If Ursel beat Link, Ursel would be 6W-1L and assured of the first place bye and Link would be 4W-3L and tied with some others. For certain either Darcy Robertson (AMCC) or Norma Purdy (St. Vital) will finish 4W-3L as both are currently 3W-3L and they play each other in their final game. Judy Colwell is at 3W-2L with two to play so her East St. Paul team can finish as high as second at 5W-2L, in the 4W-3L tie, OR out of the playoffs at 3W-4L.

(Friday, March 18, 11PM) WARREN LAST UNBEATEN AT BEAUSEJOUR SENIORS: Murray Warren’s Brandon team, the reigning Manitoba Masters Champion are the last unbeaten team in the two Manitoba Senior championship events in Beausejour. Warren needed an extra end for a 5-4 victory over Sam Antila on the late draw Friday.

The other previously unbeaten men’s team, skipped by Richard Muntain, was beaten 10-4 by Allan Gitzel, whose record is now 3W-1L. Gitzel is tied with Dave Boehmer and Rob Van Kommer in second place in their pool. Behind Warren in the other group are Mike Mahon and Randy Neufeld at 3W-1L.

In the Senior Women’s, Norma Purdy was beaten for the first time on Friday, a 10-3 loss to Marlene Lang. With Purdy at 3W-1L are Terry Ursel and Kim Link. Darcy Robertson lost on the late draw, 8-2 to Laurie Deprez, and has a 2W-2L record.

(Friday, 5PM) PURDY, WARREN & MUNTAIN LEAD MASTERS CHAMPIONSHIPS AT 3W-0L: Norma Purdy , with a win over Judy Colwell, leads the Senior Women’s in Beausejour with a perfect 3W-0L record. Colwell is a 2W-1L along with Darcy Robertson, Kim Link, and Terry Ursel.

Murray Warren and Richard Muntain, at 3W-OL, lead the two pools in the Senior Men’s in Beausejour. Behind Warren, at 2W-1L are Randy Neufeld and Mike Mahon. Behind Muntain, at 2W-1L, are Rob Van Kommer, Dave Boehmer, and Allan Gitzel.

(Friday 8AM) PLAY UNDERWAY IN SENIORS & MIXED PROVINCIALS: Play began with all teams playing two games in the Manitoba Senior Men’s and Women’s Championships in Beausejour and in the Mixed provincials in Carman. It is round-robin play in both Beausejour events and triple knock-out in Carman.

In the Senior Women’s, Judy Colwell (East St. Paul) and Norma Purdy (St. Vital) and their teams both posted a pair of wins while four other teams split their two opening day games. Colwell defeated defending champion clubmate Kim Link (10-7) and Darcy Robertson (5-2) while Purdy had victories over Sandra Cowling (14-1) and Laurie Deprez (5-4).

In the Senior Men’s, defending champion Randy Neufeld (La Salle) was one of 10 teams to split their first day pair. Only three teams survived the day with two wins. Masters champion Murray Warren (Brandon) leads one eight-team pool with a 2-0 record while Richard Muntain (Granite) and Dave Boehmer (Petersfield) lead the other pool at 2-0.

(Wednesday, March 16) FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP EVENTS FOR MANITOBANS TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND!!: It will be a great weekend for Manitoba curling fans.  TV fans will be cheering for Kerri Einarson and Team Canada as they kick off the Women’s Worlds in Prince George with two games on Saturday. Two year’s experience wearing the maple leaf puts them in a good place going into the event. Six teams make the playoffs so that they should be among those. Then it is a case of luck of the draw – they should get close and certainly have the ability to win it but with Tirinzoni and Hasselborg in the competition, that’s the furthest I’ll go in the way of a prediction.

Also this weekend, CurlManitoba has three events for fans who like their championship curling in person.

(Wednesday) The Chicken Mixed Chef in Carman begins Thursday evening with 13 entries playing a triple knock-out with six teams advancing to the playoffs. Always interesting to pick a favorite when teams rarely play together more than year or two but 3-time Mixed Champion Sean Grassie has name recognition and he also lost the 2021 Mixed final; Steve Irwin and Stacey Fordyce, both three time Clubs Champions, team together in a tough to beat combo; brother-sister combo Brett (a former Manitoba junior champ) & Meghan (former Mixed Manitoba & World Champ) Walter, should contend, as might Justin Richter with Tyler & Brandi Forrest (half of the 2021 Manitoba Mixed Champion team) and Sara Oliver (also a former World Mixed champ) at lead. The playoffs take place Sunday with the final at 5PM.

I’d bet I have named the eventual winner in those four. If pressed further, I might suggest either Walter or Irwin in the final against Grassie.

Kim Links’ 2021 Manitoba Senior Women’s Champion Team (Curling Canada photo)

The CurlManitoba Senior Women’s begins Thursday at 9AM in Beausejour with eight entries. The skips of the last seven Manitoba Senior Women’s champions and eight champions in total, with many of their teammates, have entries in the event. All are competitive at this level, making for an interesting competition. They include Laurie Deprez (2012), Sandra Cowling (2016), Terry Ursel (2017-19-20). Also included is defending champion Kim Link who also won in 2015 and 2018. The credentials of the other teams are also impressive. Norma Purdy skipped the finalist team at the 2021 Senior Women’s at Pembina last fall. Marlene Lang won the Club Champions Championship in 2015 and 2020 and Judy Colwell, a semi-finalist in the Club Champions event in 2020. Darcy Robertson rounds out the field. She will go into the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame later this year with her 1984 Junior team. There would be interesting career symmetry to winning a senior title in the same year and this team certainly has the credentials. The three team playoff is Monday, with #2 & #3 playing and the winner playing #1 at 1:00PM.

Obviously I have named the winner since I have named all eight teams. If pressed I’d bet on Robertson being in the final. Any one of the teams could beat her in a one-game showdown but I think I’d pick Robertson to win it.

Randy Neufeld’s 2021 Manitoba Senior Men’s Team (Curling Canada photo)

The Strathcona Trust Senior Men’s also begins at 9AM Thursday in Beausejour and runs through until the final at 1PM Monday. Sixteen teams have qualified in the traditional regional and berth spiels model. They play an eight game round robin with a Page Playoff at the end. The gold standard for teams at the Manitoba Senior level is set by Randy Neufeld whose team has been intact since winning the 2015 and 2016 Manitoba titles enroute to a 2016 World Silver medal. They lost the Manitoba final to Dave Boehmer in 2020 and beat Ray Baker to win again in 2021 at Pembina. Boehmer has a completely different team than he won Manitoba with back-to-back-to-back in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Dean Dunstone on the roster makes this an interesting and very competitive team. Baker came close at the 2021 event and has the same team that almost won. He’d love to be the first sitting CurlManitoba President to win a championship during his term. The field represents the best across Manitoba but the other serious contenders are likely to be a pair of Masters teams: Murray Warren’s 2020 Manitoba Masters champs and Bill Menzies, who won the 2007 Seniors with Lionel Walz and whose team (including himself) has won a total of seven Masters ‘buffaloes’ since 2016.

Again, if pressed, I’d bet on Neufeld being in the final against one of the teams I’ve named. Flip a coin against Boehmer and give Neufeld the edge over the other three.

The other event which is happening this weekend is the Manitoba Stick Curling Association’s 2-Person Stick Open Championship at Assiniboine Memorial, beginning Friday morning. It is a quick game played with 6 rocks per side and only 6 ends. Like Mixed Doubles, it has its own unique set of rules and skills – in particular the ability to draw the button without sweeping (under the rules, no sweeping is allowed between the hoglines). You’ll see a lot of rocks in play and great entertainment from this version of the game played competitively. Teams to beat include Barry Tall and Jim Webster from Swan River, reigning Manitoba Open Champions and the Winnipeg team of Gwen Smith and Lynne Rehbein, reigning Maniotoba Women’s Champions. Both teams are preparing for the Canadian Open Championship in Moncton in mid-April. Others who will contend for this year’s Manitoba title include Tom & Rae Campbell from Killarney, the 2018 Canadian Champions; the Warren/Marquette duo of Jim Rouse and Ross MacMillan, the 2015 Canadian Champions; and St. Vital’s Warren Johnson & Dan McDonald team. Johnson is a past Canadian Champion who won the Manitoba title with different partners in 2012 and 2017. 

As for predicting the winner – not a chance! I am playing in the event with Norm Magnusson and I see no point in stirring the fire.

RAMSAY, SHAFIRKA WIN MANITOBA 2-PERSON STICK OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

(l-r) Manitoba Stick Curling Ass’n President Britta Spiring, Alf Ramsay, MSCA Event Director Warren Johnson, Ron Shafirka

St. Vital Stick Leaguers Alf Ramsay and Ron Shafirka have won the 2022 Manitoba Open 2-Person Stick Curling Championship at Assiniboine Memorial.

Ramsay-Shafirka defeated 2018 Canadian Stick Champions Tom & Rae Campbell (Killarney) 3-2 in the final game when Ramsay made a last rock kill knowing he did not have to stick for a point and the win.

In round-robin play, Campbell-Campbell had defeated Ramsay-Shafirka as the two advanced from the same pool with the Killarney duo undefeated.

In the semi-finals, Campbell-Campbell had beaten Swan River defending champion Webster-Tall team while Ramsay-Shafirka beat Magnusson-Coutts (Fort Rouge).

The 32-team event attracted teams from St. Vital (10), AMCC (6), Fort Rouge (3), East St. Paul, Carman, Warren/Marquette & Steinbach (2 each), and Swan River, Pembina, Killarney, Thistle, Eriksdale, & Stonewall (1 each).

Ramsay won the championship once previously, in 2010 partnered with Earl Stephenson. It is a first title for Shafirka.

CHAMBERS WINS CHICKEN CHEF MIXED PROVINCIAL TITLE

Corey Chambers and his team, curling out of Miami, have won Manitoba’s Chicken Chef Mixed Championship. Supported by Lisa McLeod, Nigel Milnes, and Jolene Callum, Chambers beat the Pembina Curling Club’s Birchard entry 6-2 in the provincial final in Carman.

Provincial Mixed Champions (l-r) Jolene Callum, Nigel Milnes, Lisa McLeod, Corey Chambers (CurlManitoba photo)

To reach the final Chambers beat Justin Richter (AMCC) 6-5 while Birchard beat Steve Irwin (Brandon) 8-4. Earlier, RIchter had beaten Wes Jonasson (Fort Rouge) 6-3. Irwin had won 9-7 over Brett Walter (East St. Paul)

It is a first provincial championship for Corey Chambers, Lisa McLeod and Jolene Callum. Nigel Milnes won the 2006 Manitoba Juniors with Travis Bale and the 2008 Juniors with Kyle Peters.

Brandon’s Steve Irwin lost a “B” qualifier then won a “C” qualifier in Carman Saturday.

(Saturday, March 19, 10PM) PLAYOFFS SET IN CARMAN’S CHICKEN CHEF MIXED: Six surviving teams from the original 13 will play a single elimination playoff Sunday to determine CurlManitoba’s Chicken Chef Mixed Champion. “A” Event qualifiers Daniel Birchard and Corey Chambers have the first round bye.

On the 9AM draw Justin Richter plays Wes Jonasson while Brett Walter plays Steve Irwin. The Jonasson-Richter winner will play Birchard at 1Pm. The Walter-Irwin winner will play Chambers.

Walter and Richter were “B” qualifiers, beating Irwin (9-7) and Jonasson (11-3) respectively.

Irwin and Jonasson rebounded from the losses, beating Sean Grassie (9-3) and Matthew Bijl (9-8 EE) respectively in the “C” Q-games.

Wes Jonasson

(Friday, 11PM) JONASSON ADVANCES TO “B” QUALIFIER GAME: Wes Jonasson and his Fort Rouge team needed an extra end to defeat Sean Grassie on the late draw Friday in the Chicken Chef Mixed in Carman. Playing the eighth end, Grassie made a delicate last rock out-turn draw for one to tie and force the extra. Grassie had to slide past a guard just off centre then curl to the centre line between two Jonasson rocks, one in the eight foot and on in the four foot circle. His rock stopped short sort of the button, slightly better than the Jonasson rock. But all the great shot did was extend the game another end before the Jonasson team marked up the victory.

Team Jonasson, after a win and a loss in the “A” event, has now won two “B” Event games and will play a noon game Saturday with a chance to qualify for the playoffs. Their opponent will be the loser of a morning “A” Qualifier between Brett Walter and Corey Chambers.

The loser of the other “A” Qualifier, between Daniel Birchard and Justin Richter, will play the winner of a morning game between Matthew Bijl and Steve Irwin. Bijl and Irwin were winners on the late draw Friday.

Three-time Provincial Mixed Champion Sean Grassie

(Friday, 5PM) “A” QUALIFIER GAMES SET IN CARMAN MIXED PROVINCIALS: Daniel Birchard will play Justin Richter and Corey Chambers will play Brett Walter Saturday at 9AM in the two A-Event Qualifier games. Birchard and Walter have won a pair of games. Richter and Chambers had first round byes so their wins earlier today were first game wins.

(Thursday 10PM) Opening draw winners in Carman, in the Mixed, were Sean Grassie (Deer Lodge), Daniel Birchard (Pembina), Wes Jonasson (Fort Rouge), and junior Matthew Bijl (AMCC). First round byes went to Justin Richter (AMCC), Corey Chambers (Miami), and Steve Irwin (Brandon). They’ll each play first game winners in their opening draws Friday.

Brandi & Tyler Forrest, members of the 2021 Mixed Champion team, will play this week with Justin Richter. (Curling Canada photo)

(Wednesday) The Chicken Mixed Chef in Carman begins Thursday evening with 13 entries playing a triple knock-out with six teams advancing to the playoffs. Always interesting to pick a favorite when teams rarely play together more than year or two but 3-time Mixed Champion Sean Grassie has name recognition and he also lost the 2021 Mixed final; Steve Irwin and Stacey Fordyce, both three time Clubs Champions, team together in a tough to beat combo; brother-sister combo Brett (a former Manitoba junior champ) & Meghan (former Mixed Manitoba & World Champ) Walter, should contend, as might Justin Richter with Tyler & Brandi Forrest (half of the 2021 Manitoba Mixed Champion team) and Sara Oliver (also a former World Mixed champ) at lead. The playoffs take place Sunday with the final at 5PM.

I’d bet I have named the eventual winner in those four. If pressed further, I might suggest either Walter or Irwin in the final against Grassie.

PICKEN LEGACY FUND GRANT ANNOUNCED FOR INTERLAKE JUNIOR LEAGUE

The organizing committee for the annual Bob Picken Memorial Masters Bonspiel has announced its latest contribution to youth curling development in Manitoba.

A Bob Picken Legacy Fund grant of $500 has been made to the Junior Interlake Inter-club League. This brings the total invested in youth curling development to $3,000 since the bonspiel was established in memory of legendary curling broadcaster Bob Picken in 2019.

“Despite the pandemic, we were able to hold a small bonspiel in the fall of 2021,” say co-chairs Bob Minaker and Brian Kushner. “We again generated a surplus which allowed us to continue with our mandate of supporting youth development in curling across Manitoba.”

“Just as the pandemic has disrupted our own bonspiel planning, we know it has been challenging for projects such as the Junior Interlake Inter-club League so we were pleased to see that they were able to continue their program to a successful conclusion this year,” say Minaker and Kushner. “We are pleased to be able to make a contribution to pay some of the league costs for the season.”

This year’s league included teams from East St. Paul, Stonewall, and Selkirk. West St. Paul, usually also involved, was unable to participate this year. The league offers young curlers, aged 12-17, development opportunities through both coaching sessions and competition.

Games through the season are played in each of the participating clubs with the travel to play in different venues and on different ice also being a development experience.

The Junior Interlake Inter-club Curling League will wind up its 2021-22 season March 20th at East St. Paul, beginning at 10AM.

In 2019, the Bob Picken Masters Bonspiel made grants to Thistle, Oakville, and Riverview (Brandon) Junior development programs. Due to the pandemic, no grants were made in 2020. In 2021-22, grants have been made to the Interlake league and to support CurlManitoba’s Bob Picken Legacy Inter-club Youth League in Winnipeg..

Planning is underway for the fall 2022 Bob Picken-Valour Road Masters Bonspiel at Thistle Curling Club. The committee will continue to support junior curling development in Manitoba. Grant applications, through CurlManitoba, will be received at the beginning of next curling season.