Fantasy realized with championship berth

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:35 AM ET

Some fantasize about winning a Brier or Olympic gold.

Others realize a dream just by making it to a provincial championship. Like St. Vital's Richard Muntain.

Muntain capped off a solid cashspiel season by earning his very first trip to the Manitoba playdowns by upsetting Granite's sixth-seeded John Bubbs 11-5 in a Safeway Select city zone A-B final at the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club yesterday.

"It feels unbelievable," gushed Muntain, 37. "It's incredible. It's what we've been playing for all year, although the money didn't hurt, either."

Supported by third Lionel Chartrand, 50, second Vic Bellay and lead Danny Mondor, both 44, Muntain eliminated the two-time Manitoba champion to earn the first provincial appearance for all but Bellay.

'DIDN'T MATTER'

"It didn't matter who we beat, we just wanted to get that patch," said Muntain, who built an early lead then hung on for the victory. "I was just trying to keep my composure out there."

In other zones, both James Kirkness of Fort Rouge and Elmwood's Pete Nicholls went undefeated to earn their Select spots while Assiniboine Memorial's Brent Braemer and Granite's Bob Sigurdson won A-B finals.

Both Kirkness (1998) and Nicholls (1994) are seeking returns to Brier glory.

"I guess if I was getting a little longer in tooth, I'd be getting frustrated," said Kirkness, 33. "But I look at it as experience. Obviously, the Brier is still the premier event in curling and to get back to that would be unbelievable, especially when you're coming out of this province."

Time has healed the frustration for Nicholls, who will be making his 18th provincial trip.

"I'm getting older and don't play enough now," said Nicholls, 45. "Don't get me wrong, though, I'd still love to get back. But it's tough to beat the Stoughtons, Boehmers and Burtnyks because they play so much."

Braemer beat Granite's Bill Kuran 6-1 despite having to replace his third, Lyle Derry, who suffered back spasms during the first end. Luckily, he had a fifth man, Don Smart, at the ready.

In rural zones, Stonewall's Chris Galbraith, Neepawa's Kelly Robertson, Brandon's Terry McNamee, Dauphin's Peter Prokopowich, Binscarth's Doug Tibbitts, Baldur's Gerry Janz, Virden's Scott Ramsay, Thompson's Rae Hainstock, Flin Flon's Don Holmes and Benito's Doug Gage all won Select spots, with three still being determined last night.


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