No practise makes perfect

TODD SAELHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

Kevin Martin would wince at such a notion.

Kevin Koe and Randy Ferbey might dismiss the strategy as pure nonsense.

Yet Adrian Bakker and his Calgary rink have no intention of changing what works for them -- the no-practice, limited-commitment gameplan that's pushed them into contention for the provincial men's curling crown.

"We're using the same formula we used going into southerns -- don't play any games and never practise," said Bakker, with a chuckle.

"It worked for us in southerns, although I wouldn't normally recommend it."

But if it ain't broke, don't fix it, figures Bakker and the rest of his Calgary Curling Club foursome -- third Sterling Hansen, second Matt Ng and lead Brad Kokoroyannis.

Despite teaming up last fall with the design of spending little time on the ice, the locals are chasing the Alberta title at the 2010 Boston PIzza Cup, beginning Wednesday in Olds. After participating in just one cashspiel and playing in the district playdowns, they qualified through the B event at the southerns two weeks ago at North Hill Community Curling Centre.

"I've played 14 games and thrown about 24 practice rocks this year," said the 47-year-old Bakker, who is making his sixth appearance at provincials since 1999.

"I guess all those years of playing has taught me something. To get here without playing very much is a great accomplishment.

"Like I tell everyone," he continued with a chuckle, "my teammates are so good that I don't need to practise."

Truth be known, Bakker entered the season with a torn meniscus in his left knee after a rollerblading crash and has taken the advice of staying off it as much as possible.

The rink formed with the idea of maintaining a low profile but somehow find themselves in the 12-team hunt for Alberta's purple heart after a solid run at the southerns, where they finished 5-1, losing only the A final to Red Deer's Rob Armitage. In the B finale, Bakker beat fellow Calgarian Terry Meek, thanks to a first-end, 12-ft. runback by the veteran skip to count four.

"We played well all weekend -- no question," said Bakker, who is the only member of his rink with provincial experience at the men's level.

"If we play (this week) like we did at southerns, we'll do some damage at provincials," Bakker continued. "But it gets tougher at provincials. When guys like Ferbey and Koe bring their 'A' game, we're not on the same planet as them.

"We have beaten them before. Can we again? Sure.

"Should we expect it? No."

EXTRA ENDS

Bakker opens the Boston Pizza Cup at 10 a.m. Wednesday against Edmonton's Wade White, an Alberta Curling Tour qualifer. Edmonton's Ted Appelman is the other ACT qualifier, while Calgary Winter Club's Brent Bawel joins Bakker and Armitage as the southern reps. With Martin focusing on his bid for Olympic gold, the defending champion won't be in Olds for the provincials, allowing Ferbey to draw in automatically as last year's runner-up. From the north, Koe, Whitecourt's Ben Wilkinson and Sherwood Park's James Pahl make the trip. From the Peace District is Sexsmith's Kurt Balderston and Sexsmith's Kelsey Dusseault. And rounding out the field is Lloydminster's Warren Hassall, as the CTRS qualifier. The final is slated for Sunday ... Six squads punched their tickets to the provincials, Feb. 17-21 in Edmonton, with winning play at the senior men's and women's southerns in Medicine Hat. Among men, it was Calgary Winter Club's Paul Gowsell and Red Deer rinks Lowell Peterman and Rob Armitage winning respective A, B and C events. On the women's side, it's Okotoks Debbie Miller, Debbie Foster of the Calgary Winter Club and Terri Loblaw of the North Hill Curling Club ... The juvenile men's districts in Hanna were cancelled over the weekend due to problems with the host club. All 15 teams will go directly to the juvenile southerns at The Glencoe Club, Feb. 12-15.

LAST ROCK

The Masters southerns begin Friday at Calgary's Ogden Legion Curling Club. Five women's rinks, including defending champion Sandy Turner, vie for three spots at the provincials, which are slated for Feb. 24-28 at the Highwood Curling Club. On the men's side, 16 rinks, including Harold Breckenridge's Inglewood foursome, hit the ice for three provincial berths.

TODD.SAELHOF@SUNMEDIA.CA


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