A pair of top-ranked squads were breathing Grand Slam sighs of relief last night. Both Assiniboine Memorial's top-seeded Kerry Burtnyk and Dave Boehmer of Grain Exchange, No. 2, rebounded from A-side upsets in the Safeway Select city zone playdowns with victories at the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club.
"We certainly needed it," Burtnyk said after eliminating West St. Paul's Rob Cosens 9-3. "We didn't play very well (against St. Vital's Doug Harrison Thursday). We made a few more shots (last night)."
Boehmer bounced Charleswood's Scott Barenz 7-3.
"We weren't quite sharp (Thursday)," said Boehmer. "Actually, we got blown away (by Mike Mahon of Deer Lodge 8-3). It was nice to get back into rhythm after our game (Thursday) was so terrible."
Boehmer, who usually curls out of Petersfield, has never played in the city zones before.
"It's different," he said. "There's a good bunch of well-skilled curlers here. There's no one soft in there."
Boehmer joined the Grain Exchange because his rural zone would have conflicted with the last Slam.
"I explained it to enough people in Petersfield now that everyone knows it would have been an impossible task," Boehmer said. "But I'd like to see all of the zones played the same weekend. When we were boycotting, one of the things we wanted was to get them all into synch. All of the teams should be playing in all of the zones at once."
Both Slam squads, which will be competing at the Canadian Open at the MTS Centre later this month, have had to adjust to sometimes-erratic curling club ice.
"There's no question it's different than the arenas where we play so often," said Burtnyk. "But we should be able to adjust to that pretty quickly. And this ice has good swing to it so, we can get around guards and put the pressure on."
St. Vital's fifth-ranked Dave Smith was also trying to stave off elimination on last night's late draw.
In other games, Sean Grassie of Deer Lodge, Granite's Bob Sigurdson and Troy Hamilton, Mark Franklin of Fort Rouge, St. Vital's Mike Hebert and West Kildonan's Anthony Smaha also advanced to B semifinals.
BITERS: Although there was a CCA rep in town this week, he was not checking out the MTS Centre as a possible site for the 2008 Brier, MCA executive director Ian Staniloff said. "I've never even been to the MTS Centre," he added. The rep was actually preparing a curling club symposium ... The MCA had received 453 entries into its annual men's bonspiel by late yesterday afternoon, 27 short of the reduced 480 it intends to ice this year.