It’s now or never for Neil Cowie and his Brandon Curling Club foursome.
Cowie, third Dale Gould, second Tyler Grumpelt and lead Max Van Kommer set a goal this season to play at the provincial junior men’s curling championship at the Brandon Curling Club from Jan. 3-7. However, the squad failed to secure a coveted spot at a pair of berth bonspiels in the fall and they lost the Westman regional playdown final to Carberry’s Braden Calvert.
The junior men’s Christmas berth bonspiel, which starts today and runs through Saturday in Winnipeg, is Cowie’s last kick at the can and he wants to make the squad’s dream a reality.
"It would be awesome (to get to provincials)," he said. "That’s what we’ve been hoping for from the start. If we can make that happen, I think we’ll be really happy with ourselves."
Normally there is only one berth at the Christmas bonspiel, but this year there will be two. Only one team entered the NorMan playdowns for experience and secured that region’s berth by default, but they declined the invitation to provincials. That berth will be decided at this event.
Couple that with the draw, which won’t pit Cowie against another team that already has a berth until the quarter-finals, and the 20-year-old skip likes his team’s chances against the 26-team field.
"It’s actually looking all right for us," he said. "I’m happy about that. We just have to start winning. … Just make sure we’re playing the top of our game and focusing and calling the right shot. We just have to play a good, strong game."
Meanwhile, Jennifer Curle’s Minnedosa foursome will also be in Winnipeg for the junior women’s Christmas berth bonspiel. Curle, however, isn’t going for the one spot available at provincials as she secured hers at the Westman playdowns. She is be looking to gain some more experience against some of the top teams in the 21-team field in preparation for provincials.
SAFEWAY TICKETS: People have until Monday to get their week passes for the Safeway Championship — scheduled for Feb. 6-10 at Neepawa’s Yellowhead Centre — at the early bird price of $75. They jump to $100 in the new year. Passes can be purchased in Neepawa at Gill and Schmall Agencies and Harris Pharmacy as well as Brandon’s Dick Agencies, Carberry’s HMS Agencies, Gladstone’s Foxon Agencies and Minnedosa Insurance Services.
EXTRA ENDS:The organizing committee for the provincial junior championships in Brandon is looking for volunteers to work the time clocks, the front door and sell 50/50 tickets. Contact Gil Van Daele at 204-726-3560 … Minnedosa will host a junior bonspiel for kids in Grades 5 through 10 on Sunday. Cost is $60 per team. Call Krista Dillabough at 204-867-5453 or Jean Garbolinsky at 204-867-2372 … The Brandon masters men’s bonspiel is slated for Jan. 8-9 at both curling clubs in the Wheat City. Contact Al Smalley at 204-727-7995 … The Brandon Men’s Bonspiel is taking registrations for the Jan. 10-13 event. Entry forms can be found at both city clubs …Neepawa’s women’s bonspiel is set for Jan. 11-13. Entry fee is $120. Contact Sheila Cook at 204-573-8233 … Minnedosa will host a mixed bonspiel from Jan. 18-20. The entry fee is $100. Call Carol Taylor at 204-867-2245 … Brandon’s women’s bonspiel will also run from Jan. 18-20, costing $180 per team, or $100 for junior squads. Contact Darlene McPherson at 204-728-5211 … A men’s bonspiel will be held at Wawanesa from Jan. 25-27. Wawanesa will also hold a women’s bonspiel from Feb. 1-3. Contact Trent Cullen about either event at 204-824-2638 … Neepawa’s annual men’s cash bonspiel will run from Jan. 25-27. Cost is $140. Contact Jack Follows at 204-476-5327 … Minnedosa’s masters bonspiel is slated for Jan. 26-27. The entry fee is $100 per team. Call Bob Manns at 204-867-2241, Ray Orr at 204-867-2211 or Mel Harvey at 204-867-2909.