Regional qualifying for the Viterra Championship in Selkirk, in late January, has concluded around the province.

In Winnipeg, three of the four teams who lost “A” finals yesterday, bounced back to win the “B” berths Sunday afternoon. Only one “B” semi-final winner was able to win two games, and a Viterra invitation, on Sunday.

Team Martin

That team was Travis Bale (skipping the Evan Martin Fort Rouge entry with Ian Fordyce, Nigel Milnes, and fifth Jonathan Ray) jumped out to a 4-1 lead after five ends over William Lyburn but Lyburn fought back to tie 5-5 coming home. With a Bale rock biting the back of the four, Lyburn’s last shot draw-freeze attempt didn’t curl up enough and Bale did not have to throw his final stone.

Richard Muntain – Granite (Darren Oryniak, Al Purdy, AJ Girardin), former champion Mark Lukowich – Fort Rouge (Sheldon Oshanyk, Chris Chimuk, Stu Gresham), and Daniel Birchard – Pembina (Kelly Fordyce, William Moore, Andrew Peck) all dropped from “A” final losses Saturday night and won “B” finals today.

Team Muntain

Muntain saw Corey Anderson blank the opening end, score one and steal one to lead 2-0 after three ends. A two and three single steals gave Muntain a 5-2 seven end lead. He forced Anderson to one on eight ended the game with three on the ninth.

Team Lukowich

Lukowich grabbed a big four point lead with a five on the fifth end but to their credit Richard Hawkins and his young Jack Hykaway team did not fold. They were forced to one on the sixth end and stole two on seven to trail by only two but that was as close as they could get in an 8-4 win for Lukowich.

Team Birchard

Pembina’s Daniel Birchard and his teammates, who have curled together for most of 20 years, blanked the first two ends and scored a two deuces in the next three ends to lead 4-1 but Derek Blanchard fought back to trail 5-4 coming home. With his last shot, Blanchard had a chance to leave Birchard a tough last stone double kill but didn’t get the needed roll. Birchard made a routine hit wide open in the four foot for the win.


In Rivers, Virden’s Graham Freeman, curling with his sons Brooks and Jace and Dwayne Barkley, won the “B” side berth.

In Morden, the “B” side berth winner was Carman’s Dean North with Kyle MacNair, Wayne Nussey, and Michael Hutton.

(1PM: Sunday, Nov. 21) WINNIPEG “B” BERTH FINALS SET, FOUR RURAL BERTHS AWARDED … Four “B” semi-finals at Winnipeg’s Deer Lodge finished early this morning as four teams advanced to the 1:30PM berth finals draw.

Richard Hawkins with Jack Hykaway, once coach now teammate.

Richard Hawkins, skipping and throwing first for the Jack Hykaway team, won in eight although the writing was on the clubhouse wall earlier. A five in the fourth end and a 7-2 lead after six was proof that Bill Menzies team didn’t have it this morning.

Even earlier for Corey Anderson and Derek Blanchard who needed four and six ends for their wins over Derek Oryniak and Andrew Wickman respectively.

The fourth game saw Travis Bale skipping the Evan Martin entry) go up 7-5 after five ends on Rod McLeod. McLeod scored back to back deuces on ends 6 & 7. Facing three with his last stone, McLeod’s attempted rub and roll to the button behind 3 guards rolled about six inches too far leaving Bale a hit for four and an 11-6 win.

In the Winnipeg berth finals Hykaway plays Mark Lukowich, Bale (Martin) plays William Lyburn, Blanchard plays Daniel Birchard, and Anderson plays Richard Muntain.

AROUND THE PROVINCE: Four rural regional berths have been awarded this morning.

In Thompson, the north regionalberth was won by Sam Antila and his Burntwood team (Rylan Young, Jeff Antila, Ian Graham).

In Morris, the regional berth has been won by Randy Neufeld – La Salle (Dean Moxham, Peter Nicholls, Dale Fust)

In Dauphin, Jeff Stewart-Gladstone (Eric Zamrkut, Austin Mustard, Geoff Trimble) is the winner.

In Rivers, Kelly Marnoch-Carberry (Bart Witherspoon, Branden Jorgenson, Dean Smith) won the first berth. The “B” berth final between Graham Freeman and Steve Irwin is set for this afternoon.

In Morden, Dean North and Ryan Hyde will play for the “B” berth.

Team Grassie

(11:30PM Saturday, Nov. 20) FOUR WINNIPEG BERTHS AWARDED SATURDAY .. The first of four Viterra Championships berths from the 20-team Winnipeg regional playoff was won by the host Deer Lodge club’s Sean Grassie team. Grassie (with Tyler Drews, Daryl Evans, and Rodney Legault) was in control from the outset, posting a 7-0 won over former champ Mark Lukowich. The win, with an earlier 8-0 win over Chad Barkman, means Grassie qualified for provincials without giving up a point.

The other three spots went to the young guns – Brett Walter, JT Ryan, and Jacques Gauthier.

Team Walter

Walter (with Graham McFarlane, Hugh McFarlane, and Jake Zelenewich) left William Lyburn a double kill to blank attempt on the ninth end but he killed only one and Walter stole to go up 5-4 coming home. Lyburn was in trouble the entire tenth end and Walter stole another for a 6-4 win.

Team Ryan

JT Ryan (with Colin Kurz, Brendan Bilawka, and Tyler Forrest), playing a not so much older Daniel Birchard, was up one (5-4) the ninth. With his own first stone he split the rings. A Birchard attempted hit and roll behind cover rolled too far leaving Ryan a draw for two and a 7-4 lead coming home. That was the final score.

Jacques Gauthier (with Jordan Peters, Brayden Payette and Cole Chandler) was down 6-5 playing the ninth but his ability to throw big weight paid dividends. With Richard Muntain laying first & third, Gauthier second and fourth, all in the four foot – Gauthier’s rocket ticked the edge of his own stone and removed both Muntain rocks plus one of his own. But he also had fifth shot and his shooter hung on for a three and an 8-6 score coming home. That was the final score.

Lukowich, Muntain, Lyburn, and Birchard all drop in “B” finals Sunday at 1:30PM for a second chance to qualify for provincials.


AROUND THE PROVINCE: Berth playoffs will be completed Sunday in four rural Manitoba curling clubs.

In Morris, “A” winner Randy Neufeld must be beaten twice by William Kuran. The same goes in Dauphin where “A” winner Jeff Stewart must be beaten twice by Greg Todoruk.

In Rivers, Kelly Marnoch will play Graham Freeman in the “A” final. The winner get a berth and the loser drops to the “B” berth final against the winner of a game between Steve Irwin and Cale Dunbar.

In Morden, four teams survive on the “B” side of the draw. Rob Van Kommer plays Ryan Hyde and Kyle McCannell plays Dean North. The winners will meet in the “B” berth final game.


AROUND THE PROVINCE: Justin Richter won his best of three against Steen Sigurdson. Richter (with Kyle Einarson, Jared Litke, Mitch Einarson) will be in Selkirk.

In Morden, Garth Shewfelt (Mike Johnson, Rob Van Deynze, Mike Orchard) and Ryan Thomson (Marcus Titchkosky, Mark Georges, Evan Gillis) have won berths. The “B” side of the 9-team playoff continues with the winner earning a third berth.

In Morris, Randy Neufeld has won the “A” side of the draw and must be beaten twice by the “B” winner. The same for Jeff Stewart in Dauphin.

In Rivers, Kelly Marnoch will play for a berth in the “A” final against the winner of a game between Cale Dunbar and Graham Freeman.

IN WINNIPEG: Playing last night was no advantage for the four teams who won opening games Friday evening as all four lost their second “A” side games in the Winnipeg Viterra qualifying event at Deer Lodge.

On the early draw Saturday JT Ryan beat Corey Anderson (8-5) and Daniel Birchard beat Travis Bale, skipping the Evan Martin entry (9-6). On the PM draw, William Lyburn beat Bill Menzies (9-3) and Jacques Gauthier beat Derek Blanchard (8-1).

On the early draw, Mark Lukowich, the only former Manitoba Men’s champion skip in the competition, made a raise takeout for two on the sixth end to take a 7-3 lead over Andrew Wickman. Wickman fought back but eventually the Lukowich team posted a 9-6 win. Sean Grassie also marked up a first win, 8-0 over Chad Barkman.

On the afternoon draw, Brett Walter was a 7-3 winner over Derek Oryniak and Corey Thompson’s Deer Lodge team led Richard Muntain 7-6 coming home but gave up a deuce in an 8-7 Muntain win.

Travis Bale

(10PM: Friday, Nov. 19) VITERRA REGIONAL QUALIFYING UNDERWAY WITH FOUR GAMES FRIDAY….There were three different types of games among the opening  four games of Viterra qualifying in Winnipeg Friday evening at Deer Lodge.

Travis Bale (skipping the Evan Martin entry from Fort Rouge) jumped out to a lead against Granite’s Robert Daudet team (skipped by Corey Boisvert) and controlled play in a 9-2 win. In the same way, Corey Anderson’s Charleswood team got an early lead on the Jack Hykaway entry from Pembina (skipped by Richard Hawkins) and controlled play in an 11-4 victory.

Darryl Gunnlaugson (l) and Larry Borus prepare to sweep a Bill Menzies stone.

Bill Menzies and his Granite team were able to come from behind for victory. Trailing 4-2 after four ends against the Perche brothers team from Charleswood, Menzies was forced to take one on end #5. It was the sixth end which changed the momentum. Looking at a buried Perche stone in the four foot, Team Menzies took considerable time to make a decision. With his first rock, Menzies cleared a pair of guards with a hit double raise which rolled off another rock to sit second shot covered. Perche had to leave something and Menzies second stone was a tap-back past a guard which removed the shot rock and left Menzies lying three. Perche  removed on but left the steal of two. Momentum had shifted – Perche was forced to one and a tie in the seventh and a Menzies three on the 8th was the final margin of victory.

In the fourth game, Rod McLeod and his Fort Rouge team followed the Menzies model, coming back from down 5-2 to lead 6-5 after none ends. Derek Blanchard and his Assiniboine Memorial team were forced to a single on the home end to tie. In this game, however, the single broke McLeod’s momentum. Team Blanchard got their rocks in to the centre line in the rings with plenty of cover and forced McLeod to a wide outside draw with his final stone. He had to touch the four foot circle but came up short, giving up a steal and an 8-6 Blanchard win.

The four games were the extra series games in the 20 team regional playoff. The winners all advance against team who will be playing their first games Saturday.

In Morden, in three of the four games on the opening draw , the winners controlled all the way. Ryan Thomson (8-0 over Eren Oleson), Ryan Hyde (9-3 over Kyle McCannell) and Grant Shewfelt (7-1 over Rob Van Kommer) posted easy wins. The fourth went an extra end with Gerry Janz scoring three on the ninth for a one point lead. Steve Pauls tied to force an extra end but Janz won it on the extra end.

(November 18) VITERRA REGIONAL QUALIFYING THIS WEEKEND ….Viterra Championship regional playoffs take place this weekend with a total of 43 entries competing in seven locations for 17 regional entries in the Viterra Championship in Selkirk in late January.

The provincial event is January 25-30, slightly earlier than usual because this is the Olympic year.           

When Corey Chambers won the Steinbach berth bonspiel a few weeks ago, his team became the sixth pre-qualified entry. At that time, they joined Mike McEwen, Jason Gunnlaugson, Braden Calvert, Jordon McDonald, and Ryan Wiebe and their teams with invitations to compete in Selkirk. Since, per CurlManitoba rules, Pat Simmons and Riley Smith have also been assigned 2021-22 CTRS berths (highest eligible teams on CTRS on November 5).

It is fair to suggest the Manitoba champion may have already qualified for Selkirk but that won’t minimize the competition when the games get underway Friday evening or Saturday depending on the number of teams in the regional competition. The opportunity to compete in the Viterra Championship on the world class arena ice provided by CurlManitoba’s Ice Technicians is still a major attraction for Manitoba curlers.

There are two teams playing in each of the North and East regions so these are simple best of three draws on Saturday (Sunday finals) featuring Sam Antila against Grant Brown in Thompson and Justin Richter against Steen Sigurdson in Winnipeg Beach.

CurlManitoba President Ray Baker, Manitoba Seniors finalist, has his eye on a Viterra berth

In the West 1 playoff in Dauphin, the host club’s Ray Baker, who had a finalist finish a week ago in the Manitoba Seniors, will face Jeff Stewart (Gladstone) and Greg Todoruk (also Dauphin) in their double knock-out for one provincial berth.  Play will start in Dauphin on Saturday morning.

In the West 2 playoff, Saturday and Sunday in Rivers, five teams will play a double knock-out for two provincial berths.  Kelly Marnoch and Devin Moore, (Carberry), Graham Freeman (Virden), Steve Irwin (Brandon) and Cale Dunbar (Riverview) will be looking for the provincial invitations.

The South 1 playoff has the largest entry of the rural regions with nine teams from five communities. Pilot Mound is represented by Kyle McCannell, Rob Van Kommer, & Steve Pauls), Portage by Ryan Hyde & Eren Oleson), Baldur by Grant Shewfelt and Gerry Janz, Carman by Dean North, and the host club Morden by Ryan Thomson. The “A” side of the double knock-out draw will award two of the three provincial entries available while the survivor on the “B” side gets the third berth. Competition in Morden begins Friday evening.

In the South 2 playoff in Morris, Manitoba Senior Champion Randy Neufeld and his team will be challenged for one provincial entry by Allan Gitzel (Morris), Kurt Braden (Lorette) and William Kuran (St. Adolphe) in a double-knockout competition beginning Saturday morning.

2020 World Junior champion Jacques Gauthier heads the list of entries in Winnipeg regional playoffs

The Winnipeg region will award eight provincial entries in a 20 team event beginning Friday evening at the Deer Lodge Curling Club. Seven Winnipeg clubs are represented. Most high profile of the teams competing include a trio of recent junior champions: World Junior Champion Jacques Gauthier, 3-time Canadian Junior champion JT Ryan, and Manitoba Junior Champion Brett Walter along with multiple Manitoba champion Sean Grassie, a former Manitoba Men’s championship finalist. The only former Manitoba Men’s champion skip in the field is Mark Lukowich.

The Winnipeg regional competition includes five Fort Rouge entries (Lukowich, Andrew Wickman, Derek Oryniak, Evan Martin, Ron McLeod); four Assiniboine Memorial teams (Gauthier, Ryan, Walter, Derek Blanchard); four from Granite (Richard Muntain, Bill Menzies, Robert Daudet, William Lyburn); two each from Charleswood (Corey Anderson, Darren Perche), Pembina (Daniel Birchard, Jack Hykaway), and Deer Lodge (Grassie, Corey Thompson); plus one from St. Vital (Chad Barkman).

“A” side competition, beginning Friday evening, will determine four provincial entries with those games scheduled for 9PM Saturday evening at Deer Lodge. The losers of those berth games will drop into the four “B” side berth games at 1:30PM Sunday.

At the conclusion of play on Sunday, when these 17 Viterra berths have been assigned, there will still be seven invitations for the championship in Selkirk available. The current situation is:

17 Berths: Regional Qualifying
Jason Gunnlaugson: Provincial Champion Berth
Mike McEwen: 2019-20 CTRS Berth
Pat Simmons: 2021-22 CTRS Berth #1
Riley Smith: 2021-22 CTRS Berth #2
Jordon McDonald: 2020-21 MCT Berth #1
Ryan Wiebe: 2020-21 MCT Berth #2
Corey Chambers: 2021-22 CurlManitoba Bonspiel Berth #1
** CurlManitoba Bonspiel Berth #2 (added to regional qualifying)
Braden Calvert: 2021-22 MCT Berth #1 (Atkins Bonspiel)
TBD: 2021-22 MCT Berth #2 (MCT Champion)
TBD: 2021-22 MCT Berth #3 (Hi Points after DEKALB Spiel)
TBD: 2021-22 MCT Berth #4 (Hi Points after DEKALB Spiel)
TBD: 2021-22 Brandon Bonspiel Berth
TBD: 2021-22 Manitoba Open Bonspiel Berth #1
TBD: 2021-22 Manitoba Open Bonspiel Berth #2
TBD: 2021-22 Manitoba Open Bonspiel Berth #3