Branden Jorgensen has fond memories of curling in Melita.
The Carberry product, who now lives with his wife Kailey on a farm southwest of Virden, and his men’s curling team skipped by Kelly Marnoch earned a spot at the 2015 provincial men’s curling championship in Brandon by knocking off Chris Wytnick of Glenboro 8-2 in a B-side qualifier at the Westman regional in December 2014.
"It worked out well then," Jorgensen said.
"Hopefully we can repeat that again."
Jorgensen throws second stones for Marnoch in the men’s game and will be at his familiar position on Saturday in Melita as he and his team, which includes Marnoch, Tina Kozak at third and Kailey as lead, looks to secure one of the two available spots into next month’s provincial field.
Skip Ray Baker, third Lisa Menard, second Ty Dilello and lead Quinn Jones out of the Dauphin Curling Club, as well as the Butch Mouck-skipped foursome from Gilbert Plains are also in the four-team field.
Baker, Marnoch and Jorgensen were all in Portage la Prairie last week competing at the Viterra Championship. Jorgensen doesn’t expect it will be a big transition to jump into mixed play.
"Personally it’s probably not too big of a transition," Jorgensen said. "It’s getting used to the ladies’ releases because curling with Chappy (Marnoch) all year round I’ve got him under control, just kind of getting used to the women and how they play and what their strengths and weaknesses are."
Kozak is the only different player on the Carberry club squad that bowed out of last year’s provincials with a 7-1 loss to Neepawa’s Jeff Stewart in a C-side semifinal.
Kozak replaces Jorgensen’s sister, April McKean, but he doesn’t think the team will be affected with a different dynamic at third.
"Tina should be a good fit because Chappy has curled mixed with her a few times and they’re good friends and you get their duo with mine and Kailey’s chemistry and hopefully it all works out together and we all gel," Jorgensen said.
Like it was two seasons ago at the Westman men’s regional, he thinks getting acquainted and comfortable with the ice in the double-elimination format is essential in Melita.
"The key is probably just steady play and trying to make more shots than the other guys, but other than that hopefully we catch on to the ice a bit quicker than the other team and other than it’s just execution from there," Jorgensen added.
The Thistle Curling Club in Winnipeg is hosting another mixed berth bonspiel this weekend.
Carberry’s Braden Calvert, who was also in the Viterra field, is skipping his Deer Lodge team of third Beth Peterson, second Kyle Kurz and lead Melissa Gordon, and is searching for one of the six berths to provincials that will be on the line.
Calvert and company, who lost last year’s Manitoba final 3-2 to Derek Samagalski, stepped in for Samagalski at nationals in Nova Scotia and skipped the team to a silver medal.
Stonewall Curling Club will host mixed provincials from March 23 to 26.
EXTRA ENDS: Treherne is hosting its ladies bonspiel on Feb. 24 and 25. The cost is $120 per team and for more information contact Cora Jackson at 204-526-5139 or 204-723-2868. The town’s men’s bonspiel runs from March 17 to 19. The cost is $160 and includes supper. Contact Larry at 204-723-2148 or Dave at 204-723-2035 … Rivers is hosting its seniors bonspiel on Feb. 28 and March 1. The cost is $100 per team. For details, contact Dennis Veitch at 204-328-7133 … Hamiota is hosting its ladies bonspiel from March 3 to 5. For details, contact Sandra Cowling at 204-764-2699 or Jannine Skayman at 204-764-0838. The community is also putting on a mixed bonspiel from March 17 to 19. For more information, contact Dale Little at 204-764-2772 or 204-365-7001 … Neepawa’s spring mixed bonspiel will run from March 24 to 26. The cost is $120. Contact Wanda at 204-476-3546.