NEEPAWA — The one thing Neepawa’s Safeway Championship host committee couldn’t prepare for has gone exactly as they hoped: Both hometown teams are alive going into Friday.
Kelly Robertson and Jerry Chudley reached the B-side semifinals of the provincial men’s curling championship on Thursday and are two wins away from reaching the playoff round.
"Boy, I tell you, that’s great for Neepawa," said Robertson, who’s curling with Doug Armour, Peter Prokopowich and Bob Scales. "That’s just what everybody wanted and you never know what can happen after that."
After dropping his first game on Wednesday, Robertson opened Day 2 with a 7-4 win over Bruce Jones. He followed that up by drawing the button with his last rock in the 10th end to defeat former Brandonite Brendan Taylor 8-7.
Chudley, meanwhile, dropped to the B-side in the morning with a 9-4 loss to Brandon’s Rob Fowler. He bounced back by beating Wayne Ewasko 7-5 in the afternoon.
Chudley will play David Kraichy today at 12:15 p.m., while Robertson will play former Brandonite William Lyburn.
"That will be interesting," said Robertson, whose son Paul plays lead for Chudley. "… We’ve had good games in the past and I don’t expect it will be any different."
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There was a mass exodus of teams starting in Wednesday’s late draw and that continued on Thursday. However, only four Westman-based teams have fallen so far.
Virden’s Graham Freeman bowed out after a 10-3 loss to Lyburn. Considering he had only played 15 games this season, Freeman was pretty happy with his 1-2 record.
"We’re trying our brains out there," he said. "We’re going to give it all we’ve got. To win a game, considering we played four games together as a team (this season), that’s not bad at this level."
Gladstone’s Geoff Trimble was the first team eliminated from the event when he fell 8-0 to Scott Madams late Wednesday night. Deloraine’s Blair Goethals and Carberry’s Rob Van Kommer fell shortly afterward as well.
Trimble wasn’t disappointed in being the first team knocked out, just in his squad’s overall play.
"As far as getting knocked out in two games, that’s fine," he said. "I was more disappointed that we weren’t better competition. That was our biggest disappointment."
Van Kommer was in good shape in his final game, tied 4-4 after six ends. Then things fell apart and he gave up six stolen points in the next three ends and left the competition for the second straight year, and third consecutive Safeway appearance, with an 0-2 record.
"It is what it is," he said. "You come in here and we played two teams where the skips were a little bit better than me. If you can’t put pressure on the other team, then you’re in trouble on this ice."
Goethals, meanwhile, dropped his all-time Safeway record to 1-8. However, he loved the experience, especially since his second and third, Dale Goethals and Barry Sunaert, were making their debuts at the event.
"We have two guys who have never been here, and you can tell," he said. "You get the jitters and stuff like that, but it’s nice to be here. In reality, are you going to win it? Probably not. But 90 per cent of the people, their goal is to qualify for something like this."
Thompson’s Grant Brown — whose team features Brandonite Rae Hainstock at third — also was eliminated Wednesday night. Hainstock quickly realized he lost bragging rights in his house as his wife, Lois, won the Golden Gals provincial title earlier in the day.
"I guess that shows you who the curler in the family is, eh?" he joked.
Dauphin’s Greg Todoruk and Rae Kujanpaa were also eliminated yesterday.