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).

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.

ROUSE-MACMILLAN WIN WARREN 2-PERSON STICK ‘SPIEL

thecurler.com has not, so far, provided much coverage of the growing sport of 2-person stick curling. To a great extent, this is a recreational activity which has attracted 100’s of curlers in clubs across the province. At my own Fort Rouge Curling Club, there are two full draws Friday afternoons with 40+ curlers. A pure number would be 48 curlers but there a few who take part in both draws.

Warren Stick ‘Spiel Champs
Ross MacMIllan (l) and Jim Rouse

However, it is also an increasingly competitive sport, as I learned this weekend when I took part in a bonspiel in Warren with my longtime 4’s skip, Norm Magnusson, who has played a few stick spiels with me and is my playing partner in one of the Fort Rouge leagues.

A quick recap of rules for the un-initiated. The game is played in an hour: 2 players, six rocks, six ends. As a matter of safety, sweeping is allowed only from the hogline in – keeping a somewhat older group of curlers from rushing down the ice to sweep,

The Warren ‘Spiel was very well organized and offered the warm hospitality that rural curling clubs are famous for. Icemaker Pat Kilcullen’s ice was keen, had a good swing to it, and had a great surface, great underfoot.

The 24-team bonspiel was played in four pools of six teams, a five game round-robin. Eight teams advanced to a championship round.

Warren’s Jim Rouse and Ross MacMillan won the bonspiel championship with a 3-2 win over the Magnusson-Coutts team. We had won seven games in a row but couldn’t score enough points to beat Rouse-MacMIllan who blanked the 5th end to hold hammer coming home.

A privilege as well for us to play against one of the veterans of the stick game in the Warren area – Alvin MacMillan. We beat him and his daughter Bev Schick in the semi-final but it wasn’t easy.