It’s now or never for 12 of the 14 masters men’s curling teams that will take part in the competitive division of the Brandon Masters Men’s Bonspiel, which starts Monday at the Brandon and Riverview clubs.
There’s only one spot left in the provincial masters curling championship, and it will be awarded to the competitive division champion in Brandon on Wednesday, with all but two of the teams in the tough field trying to earn that spot.
Brandon’s Gil Van Daele is one of them. This is the first year his team, which also includes Rae Hainstock, Grant McMullan and Harvey Heise, has been together and they’ve had a solid season. They went 11-2 in their pool in the Westoba Credit Union Masters Super League and qualified for the playoffs. They also reached an A-event final at the Westman regionals, but fell 7-6 to Virden’s Murray Duncan. The team then dropped its B-event semifinal 3-2 to Hamiota’s Lory Saban.
Van Daele’s will have a tough road to try to secure the last berth at provincials as two of his four games in the Brandon event are against Souris’s Doug Armour and Virden’s Duncan, both of whom have secured their spots in provincials.
“We played them in the masters super league and had some darn good games with them,” Van Daele said. “Hopefully we can have some good games with them and come out on top.”
Other local teams in the competitive division include Brandon’s Jim Dyck, Norm Hemstad, Garth Hockley and Brian Lowdon as well as Lawrence Daniel and Eric Rawlings from Hamiota, Shoal Lake’s Ron Anderson and Minnedosa’s Allan McPherson.
The masters bonspiel has a different setup to it. Teams play a pair of games on both Monday and Tuesday and receive two points for every end they score and 10 points if they win the game. The four teams who earn the most points then advance to Wednesday’s semifinals at 9 a.m., with the winners meeting for the berth at 1 p.m. The playoff games will be held at the Brandon Curling Club.
Van Daele doesn’t believe the point system will change how his team prepares for the three-day event, and he hopes to finally get a break this season to come out on top.
“It’s absolutely the last chance,” he said. “We’re just hoping to have a good couple days and hope to qualify for the chance for the spot and that’s all we can do.”
There are also 34 teams playing in the three recreational divisions. They will play four games on Monday and Tuesday.
WCT: Brandonite Scott Ramsay and his Winnipeg-based team are in Blaine, Minn., until Sunday for the FSCC U.S. Open of Curling. Meanwhile, former Brandonite Mike McEwen and his Winnipeg foursome are in Scotland for the Mecure Perth Masters this weekend.
MCT: The Deer Lodge Cash Spiel is being held in Winnipeg through to Sunday’s final.
EXTRA ENDS: Event and day passes for the provincial Scotties Tournament of Hearts, which starts Wednesday in Virden, are available at Virden School and Office Supplies and any Sunrise Credit Union in Westman … The 123rd annual Brandon Men’s Bonspiel will run from Jan. 9-14 … The 70th annual Neepawa Ladies’ Bonspiel goes from Jan. 10-12 and includes a battle of the bands lip-sync competition. Entry fee is $120. Contact Sheila Cook at 204-573-8233. Neepawa’s men’s bonspiel is set for Jan. 24-28, with a $140 entry fee. Contact Jack Follows at 204-476-5327 … Minnedosa is putting on a mixed bonspiel from Jan. 18-19. Cost is $100. Contact Carol Taylor at 204-867-2245 or Mel Harvey at 204-867-2909 … Wawanesa will host its men’s bonspiel from Jan. 24-26. Contact Randy Biles at 204-824-2537. The town’s women’s bonspiel goes from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2. Contact Mavis Brown at 204-824-2413 … The Silver Belles Bonspiel for women 60 and older runs from Feb. 12-13 at the Brandon Curling Club. To register, contact Donna Vrooman at 204-726-5179.