Orr surprised by induction call
MANITOBA CURLING HALL OF FAME
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Ray Orr was away from home when his wife Cheryl got a phone call to tell her that she would be going into the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame as part of Joyce McDougall’s masters team that won the 2011 Canadian masters’ women’s title.
Shortly after, Orr got a call from Hall of Fame president Peter Nicholls to let him that his 2009 Canadian men’s masters championship-winning side would also be inducted during this year’s ceremony.
“You could have knocked me over with a feather,” Orr said. “I was totally surprised.
“It’s pretty neat that my wife and I are going in at the same time as well. I think there have been mixed teams with husbands and wives that have gone in, but I’m not sure if a couple has been inducted in the same year on two different teams.”
Orr and teammates Dennis Peckover, Bob Manns, John Mendrikis and Brian Manns will be the first squad from the Minnedosa Curling Club enshrined in the Hall during Sunday’s ceremony at the Victoria Inn.
The road to the national title started in 2005 when Orr moved back from Winnipeg and started curling with Bob Manns and Mendrikis.
Prior to the start of the 2008-09 season, Bob Manns suggested to Orr that he talk to Peckover about joining the team, and the rest was history.
“I remember being in the middle of a couple of snowstorms during our zone playdowns in Virden, but we got our spot for the provincials,” Orr said.
“When we found out that it was going to be in Minnedosa, I remember thinking, ‘Boy, I hope we don’t embarrass ourselves here.’ Our hope was that we’d go in and at least win a few games.”
Having entered the 16-team playdowns as the 10th seed, the squad finished first in their group with a 5-2 record to qualify for the playoffs.
After beating Dave Romano by a score of 6-2 in the semifinal, Orr raced out to a 3-0 lead after three ends in the final and never looked back on his way to a 7-3 win over Bob Turner to earn a trip to the nationals in Saskatoon.
“There’s a fair bit of pressure when you are wearing the Buffalo on your back,” Orr said. “You feel the need to do well at the event and to also represent the province well.”
Prior to arriving in Saskatchewan’s largest city, the Orr team had to make a change to its lineup.
The Manns brothers had been alternating at second during the provincials, but the rules for the nationals stated that the team had to have four players.
As a result, Brian was put into the position for the event, while Bob joined the team as coach and advisor.
“That was a little disappointing but it was great to still have Bob there,” Orr said. “He was certainly a valuable asset for us that week.”
Manitoba ended up in a four-way tie for first place after round-robin play with a 6-3 record.
After beating Ontario in the semifinal round, the Minnedosa squad edged defending champion Rick Pughe of British Columbia in the final by a score of 4-3.
The winning shot came when Orr made a draw to the button, with a bit of help from Manns and Mendrikis.
“I was running down the ice and I remember thinking, ‘Whoa, I better slow down,’” Orr said. “You don’t want to go charging down there and then throw the rock all the way into the other hack.
“So I made sure that I slowed myself down … but I ended up throwing it quite light. The sweepers swept it pretty hard and we ended up being shot rock by a couple of inches.
“I remember telling them afterward that I never saw two old guys sweep so hard in my life,” Orr added with a laugh.
A couple of weeks later, the team received a hero’s welcome in front of a packed house at the Minnedosa Legion.
“By that time, I think it had started to sink in for all of us on the team that we were national champions,” Orr said.
The team made two other appearances at masters provincials but weren’t able to capture another title.
While each team member had various accomplishments over the years — Bob Manns won the MCA bonspiel grand aggregate title with Bruce Hudson in 1961 and Orr reached the provincial senior men’s final as a member of Peter Kennedy’s rink in 2000 — the 2008-09 season was one that they won’t forget.
“It was one of those years where everything came together,” Orr said. “The chemistry was there, we played well and we had a little bit of luck along the way.
“It’s pretty special to be inducted into the Hall of Fame 14 years later.”
» A story on Cheryl Orr and Joyce McDougall’s masters team will run next week.
» Twitter: @lpunkari