Long time coming

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:14 AM ET

It's been a long time coming but Dean Steski will finally make his first appearance at the men's provincial playdowns this season.

His Grain Exchange foursome pummelled Portage la Prairie's Don Spriggs 10-5 in the final of the Safeway Select Southern Berth Bonspiel at the Portage Curling Club last night.

"It's pretty overwhelming," the 38-year-old Steski said from Portage shortly after his momentous victory. "We'd been close the last few years but didn't quite make it until this year."

Steski, you may recall, upset Charleswood's former world champion Jeff Stoughton on the A side of last year's city zone playdowns before losing out to him on the B side, then the A-B final.

'SQUEAKED ONE OUT'

"We squeaked one out, had a close one, then he pumped us pretty good in the last one," said Steski, supported by third Kevin Meadows, second Doug Kok and Steve Lang (nephew to Northern Ontario's Rick Lang). "But any time you can play a quality team like that and can be competitive, it helps your confidence."

Steski cracked a five in the fifth end to take a 9-3 lead, then coasted to the win. And his fourth-year squad played spoiler to the hometown team.

"There were quite a few people upstairs in the lounge and not whole lot of them were cheering for us," said the federal government computer analyst, who won three national telephone titles when he previously worked for MTS. "But they were such classy guys on the ice that it was enjoyable to play them."

Steski will join Swan River's defending champion Brent Scales and St. Vital's Ryan Fry, the Manitoba Curling Tour champ, at the Select, to be held in Selkirk, Feb. 9-13.

"It will be nice to get out there and play against guys I've watched on TV or watched play at the Select and see how we'll do," Steski said. "Hopefully, we don't get first-time jitters and make asses of ourselves."

Steski, who has four sponsors, also earned $2,850 while Spriggs settled for $1,425.

Steski had advanced by edging Deloraine's Murray Warren 7-6 while Spriggs clipped St. Vital's Bill Kuran by the identical score. Both Warren and Kuran pocketed $712.50.

In the quarter-finals, Steski stunned Sean Grassie of Deer Lodge 10-3; Spriggs sunk Neepawa's Kelly Robertson 9-6; Warren nipped David Hamblin of Morris 6-5; and Kuran clobbered Hamiota's Allan Lawn 9-3.


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