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Officials step in after bogus result reported

THERE was some confusion and controversy at the MCA Bonspiel on Monday but when the smoke settled, two more berths into next month's Manitoba men's curling championship had been awarded and a three-way playoff was ongoing last night for the final remaining berth still up for grabs.

Carberry's Rob Van Kommer and Fort Rouge's Steen Sigurdson became the 30th and 31st teams to earn berths into the Safeway Championship in Neepawa without even playing a game on Monday, while a three-way playoff involving East St. Paul's Rob Atkins, West St. Paul's Dave Elias and Petersfield's Dale Lott took place last night for the lone remaining berth.

It took all of Monday morning for officials at MCA Bonspiel headquarters to sort out the confusing results of Sunday evening's late draw and determine both Sigurdson and Van Kommer had already earned berths regardless of what they did on the ice Monday and that a three-way playoff had become necessary for the only other berth.

Curl Manitoba executive director Shane Ray said the complication was the result of a false result reported late Sunday night in a Lucerne major event game between Fort Rouge's David Kraichy, whose team already has their Safeway berth, and Atkins, who was still looking.

Ray said the Kraichy team won the game 6-5 but -- because they were unable to play Monday due to work commitments -- they forfeited the game to Atkins after the fact so the Atkins team could continue to play on.

While false results are not supposed to be reported, it is not entirely uncommon at the MCA Bonspiel for winning teams who know they won't be able to continue to play to submit losing scorecards to headquarters to allow their opponents to continue.

But because the bogus result in this instance had a direct bearing on who claimed the final three provincials berths, Ray said Curl Manitoba insisted the correct result be recorded when they learned from one of the affected teams a false result had been reported.

"We found out about it and said, 'That's unacceptable,' " said Ray. "I don't think it's acceptable that you play a game, you win on the ice and then you let the other team get credit for the win -- especially when it's for a berth and affects other teams."

If the result had been allowed to stand, Atkins would have been automatically awarded the berth that came out of the Lucerne event yesterday, instead of having to play for it in the playoff Monday night.

The ruling also meant Sigurdson and Van Kommer automatically claimed the two other berths that were due to go to the highest-finishing Free Press event team and the highest-finishing remaining team in either major event that was berth eligible.

Last night, Elias defeated Lott 6-2 to advance to face Atkins in a second playoff game. And then Elias won that game too, dropping Atkins 7-6 to claim the final Safeway Championship berth.

Curtis Atkins, the son of Rob Atkins, plays lead on the Kraichy team that filed the bogus result, but Ray said he doesn't think there was anything sinister at play and the younger Atkins sent a written apology to a Curl Manitoba official later in the day.

"This wasn't a conspiracy. This was just some guys who knew they couldn't play (Monday) for whatever reason," Ray said.

-- Wiecek

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