(4PM: Thursday, Nov. 25) 2019 Manitoba Masters Champion Gord McTavish and his Pembina team have joined Greg McGibbon’s foursome as the berth winners in this week’s CurlManitoba Credit Unions Masters Berth Bonspiel at Fort Rouge.


Team McTavish handed Carl German his second loss of the day to win the berth Thursday afternoon.

McTavish (with Neil Okumura, Victor Bellay, and Larry Lagace) stole three on the fifth end for a 7-2 lead. They looked set to give German back the three, maybe 4 or 5, on the sixth but McTavish made a hit and roll (facing four) which buried in the four foot. German made an attempt to pick the rock out from behind one of his own but overcurled, rubbed and rolled harmlessly away.

In 2019, when McTavish won the title, he was aided by Okumura, Lagace and Ross Allen.


(Noon: Thursday, Nov 25) MCGIBBON WINS FIRST BERTH IN MASTERS BERTH BONSPIEL … Greg McGibbon, Peter Nicholls, Darren Oryniak, and Andy Stewart have won the first of two provincial berths available in the CurlManitoba Credit Unions Masters Berth Bonspiel at Fort Rouge.

The Granite foursome defeated Carl German’s East St. Paul team in six ends this morning at Fort Rouge.

German will now play former champion Gord McTavish and his Pembina team for the second provincial berth available through the bonspiel. McTavish had to miss the morning game but, playing with three, Neil Okumura skipped the team to victory over Granite’s Mark Franklin team.

(5PM: Wednesday, Nov. 24) FINAL FOUR PLAYOFFS SET IN MASTERS BERTH BONSPIEL … The last four unbeaten teams in the bonspiel are the four teams lined up to play in Thursday’s playoff games in the CurlManitoba Credit Unions Masters Berth Bonspiel at Fort Rouge.

Greg McGibbon (Peter Nicholls, Darren Oryniak, Andy Stewart) stayed perfect Wednesday afternoon with a 6-4 win over former Masters champion Gord McTavish (Neil Okumura, Victor Bellay, Larry Lagace). By the same score, former Manitoba senior champion Carl German (Harold Mauthe, Ray McDougall, Mirron German) pushed another former Masters champion, Mark Franklin (Jamie Hay, Barry Campbell, Greg Ziemanski) to the “B” side of the draw.

Thursday, McGibbon and German face off at 10AM in a berth game with a second chance. The winner earns the first of two available provincial berths. The loser drops in the “B” final at 1:30PM against the winner between Franklin and McTavish.

(Updated 5PM: Tuesday, Nov. 23) FOUR UNBEATEN IN MASTERS BERTH BONSPIEL ..The Mark Franklin (Granite), Gord McTavish (Pembina), Greg McGibbon (Granite) and Carl German (East St. Paul) teams won their second games in the CurlManitoba Credit Unions Masters Berth Bonspiel Tuesday morning at Fort Rouge. Having reached “A” semi-finals, the four will face off, McGibbon vs McTavish and Franklin vs German, with the two winners qualifying for the playoff round.

Mark Franklin led Lionel Walz (Pembina) by four when he gave up a five on the fifth end. They were tied coming home with Franklin holding last rock. Walz’ second man Bill Mamchuk made a perfect draw to the four foot with his last stone. It was buried behind a four stone line-up on the centre line. “Automatic” said the clubroom experts but it took three remove and replace shots before Walz saw his guard attempt slide a little too deep allowing Franklin to make the four stone runback to stick in the four foot. With his last stone draw attempt, Walz was full four foot but not quite good enough and Franklin won without throwing his last.

With Neil Okamura skipping the team in McTavish’s absence, the Pembina team beat Rob Atkins (East St. Paul) in six ends. The key shot was an Okamura rub and roll behind cover in the four foot to lie three coming home. It turned into a steal of three and victory.

German needed an extra end, thanks to a delicate tapback that had to executive a centre-line port to get to the Bill Menzies (Granite) stone in the four foot circle. On the extra end, German had to choose between leaving Menzies a last stone draw or runback. He guarded the draw line and Menzies last shot hit didn’t curl up quite enough and his own raised stone crossed the shot stone without contact, leaving German a steal of one.

In the fourth game, Greg McGibbon led Ron Westcott 7-4 coming home and ran the Fort Rouge team out of stones.

In “B” side games, Howard Doerksen (Pembina) beat Pat Carson (Ft Rouge) and Neil Schmidt (East St. Paul) defeated Barry Mandryk (Ft Rouge).

UPDATE: On the afternoon draw, Walz (8-4 over Dave Fisher), Menzies (8-4 over Brian Kushner), and Rob Atkins (8-2 over Neil Schmidt) all recovered from the morning loss with “B” side wins. Only Ron Westcott (8-4 loss to Howard Doerksen) had two losses on Tuesday.

(5PM: Monday, Nov. 22) FORMER CHAMPS WIN OPENERS IN MASTERS BERTH ‘SPIEL .. Gord McTavish, who skipped Manitoba’s 2019 Manitoba Masters Men champion team, won his opener on Monday afternoon at Fort Rouge. McTavish bested clubmate Howard Doerksen 7-1.

First win for Team Kushner

McTavish join former champions Mark Franklin and Ron Westcott with first game wins. A pair of former senior champion skips, Carl German and Lionel Walz, also won their openers earlier Monday.

Also on the afternoon draw at Fort Rouge, Rob Atkins and his team defeated the host club’s Pat Carson for their first win.

Meanwhile, Lorne Hamblin’s Morris team and the Lawrie Hogg Stonewall team had their second, elimination, loss. Hamblin lost to Brian Kushner while Dave Fisher beat the Hogg entry.

(1PM: Monday, November 22) MORRIS ROOKIES COME CLOSE IN MASTERS BERTH ‘SPIEL ..In a rink full of household names it was a group of competition rookies who pushed their opposition the furthest this morning at Fort Rouge in the opening draw of the Masters Berth Bonspiel.

Hamblin & his sweepers

Lorne Hamblin’s name and record as coach and volunteer organizer are well known, and he has even had some success as a competitor. However his Morris team of three “somewhat over 60” players are all competition rookies – playing for the first time in a CurlManitoba provincial qualifying bonspiel, although one does admit he thinks he played in a zone playoff “about 40 years ago”.

Hamblin (with Rene Nolette, Normand Lemoine, and George Lecuyer) fell behind three time Manitoba Masters champion Mark Franklin, trailing 7-3 after five ends but scored one on the sixth and stole two on the seventh to trail 7-6 coming home without last rock.

They forced Franklin to throw that last rock. Facing one wide open with a possible second shot fully buried, Franklin’s in-turn hit on the shot stone in the edge of the eight foot rolled to the four foot for one and the win.

“It was close. If he rolled out, we’d have measured – I think we had it,” said Hamblin after the game – sounding exactly like every skip who has ever come off the ice in the same situation.

However, maybe they did. Certainly, Franklin’s ice call was such that he was clearly ensuring the in-roll to remove any doubt.

Along with Franklin’s Granite team, first game winners were those household names referred to: Ron Westcott (Ft. Rouge), Lionel Walz (Pembina), Carl German (East St. Paul), Bill Menzies (Granite), and Greg McGibbon, Granite.

The bonspiel continues to with two draws daily and provincial berth finals at 10AM and 1:30PM on Thursday at Fort Rouge.

Picken ‘Spiel Committee Supports New Inter-Club Youth League

By coincidence of timing, the final games of the 2021 Bob Picken Masters Bonspiel ended about an hour before the launch of a new Inter-Club Youth League, sponsored in part by the Picken Bonspiel committee and named in hour of the curling broadcast legend.

The Bob Picken Legacy Inter-Club Youth League is a pilot project of CurlManitoba involving the junior leagues at Fort Garry, Pembina, La Salle, Elmwood and Assiniboine Memorial.

In explaining the objectives of the league to the 32 young curlers assembled at Fort Garry for the first games, CurlManitoba’s Rob Gordon said the organizers want young curlers to experience curling outside their own curling club.

“Travelling to other clubs, experiencing different ice conditions, and playing against new people are all part of learning about and enjoying the sport of curling,” Gordon said.

Two teams from each junior program will participate on five different weekends with the two teams from each program playing the two teams from another club. Midway through each two hour session, the teams will swap ice in order to allow for a fresh start and to play on a different sheet of ice.

Although a slight modification in schedule will be required when the league visits La Salle’s three-sheet facility, the intent is that all the teams will play each time the teams get together.

Gordon expects that some of the teams will represent their club each time while there may be more than two teams involved in a rotation from other clubs.

At the start of the final day of play in the Bob Picken Masters Bonspiel, when told of the plans for the Inter-Club Youth League, the players competing at the Thistle Curling Club gave resounding support for this new initiative as a very appropriate way to invest some of the proceeds from the annual Bob Picken-Valour Road Masters Bonspiel at Thistle.

The Masters age curlers playing in the bonspiel recognize they are competing with and beside competitors and friends gained over a lifetime on the curling ice, playing in their own clubs and visiting other clubs for bonspiels and inter-club play. In essence, it is a ‘passing of the torch’ with the older curlers finding a way to help our youth discover the fellowship that develops through friendly competition.