The Brandon Men’s Bonspiel has been one of the highlights of the curling season for Jerry Chudley for the last few years, and he’s hoping to keep that streak going.
For the last two seasons, Chudley’s Neepawa-based team — which includes Kevin Cooley, Paul Robertson and Jason Vinnell filling in for Brent McKee, who took the year off as his wife has been in the hospital — earned their berth in the Safeway Championship through the Brandon event and he hopes this year won’t be any different.
Despite playing well in a few cash bonspiels this season, the Chudley squad struggled in berth events, and the 123rd edition of the Brandon Men’s Bonspiel, which starts today at the Riverview and Brandon clubs, is their last chance to secure a spot in Winnipeg since they’re not entering the Manitoba Open. However, Chudley feels at home playing in Brandon.
"I think it’s a bit of familiarity," he said. "We’ve played on that ice a lot and I find the ice good and the rocks are good and we just seem to play good there and catch a few breaks here and there, too. You get into that desperation mode where your backs are against the wall and you have to win here or that’s going to be it."
The competitive side of the draw features 16 teams, with eight making it to the playoffs. The best team that doesn’t already have a spot in the men’s provincial championship will secure the berth.
Chudley’s odds are slightly improved as only 11 teams will be compete for the berth, with Rob Fowler, William Lyburn, Kelly Marnoch and Steve Irwin all having secured their spots, while Saskatchewan’s Cam Page isn’t eligible.
The field, however, will be tough and Chudley knows he’ll need to get some breaks and maybe some help to earn his third straight berth.
"That sounds like a tough field," he said. "Even those teams that have spots, you hope they qualify (for the playoffs) but that you don’t run into them until we already have our spot. It’s nice that those teams that have a spot can help you out. They can also put you out of the bonspiel, too. They’re definitely good teams."
The competitive final will take place at the Riverview club on Sunday at 4 p.m. The recreational event has 38 teams.
CALVERT SENDOFF: The Deer Lodge Curling Club will hold a sendoff for Carberry’s Braden Calvert and his Winnipeg-based provincial junior curling championship team on Saturday from 7 to 11 p.m. Calvert will represent Manitoba at nationals from Jan. 18-26 in Liverpool, N.S.
EXTRA ENDS: The Rivers men’s bonspiel runs from Jan. 16-19. Entry fee is $140. Call Grant Gill at 204-328-7220 or Alan MacDonald at 204-328-7903. The Rivers women’s bonspiel will follow from Jan. 24-26. Entry fee is $100. Call Tara Smith at 204-328-7050 … Minnedosa is putting on a mixed bonspiel slated for Jan. 18-19. Cost is $100. Contact Carol Taylor at 204-867-2245 or Mel Harvey at 204-867-2909. The town’s women’s bonspiel will be held Feb. 7-9. Entry fee is $120. Contact Cheryl Orr at 204-867-2211 … Wawanesa will host its men’s bonspiel from Jan. 24-26. Contact Randy Biles at 204-824-2537. The town’s women’s bonspiel is scheduled for Jan. 31 to Feb. 2. Contact Mavis Brown at 204-824-2413 … Neepawa’s men’s bonspiel is set for Jan. 24-28, with a $140 entry fee. Contact Jack Follows at 204-476-5327 … The Roseland South Brandon bonspiel is Jan. 30 to Feb. 8. Cost is $100 per team or $25 per person. Call Kyle Williamson at 204-573-6489 or Taralynn Williamson at 204-573-1307.