Back to the future

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

Much has changed in the curling world since what was arguably the best Manitoba men's provincial final ever played.

But Assiniboine Memorial's Kerry Burtnyk will be returning to the same Selkirk scene where he won that amazing match over Granite's Dale Duguid back in 2001.

"I don't think there's been too many games that were that well-curled," Burtnyk said after losing a main-event semifinal at the MCA's 117th Annual Bonspiel to La Salle's Randy Neufeld 7-3 at the Elmwood Curling Club yesterday. "I'm sure there have been games that have been played that well but, to play for all the marbles against Dale -- and both teams making almost everything -- it really was an exciting final. Hopefully, we'll get a chance to re-do one of those again in a couple of weeks."

DETERMINED

Burtnyk, 46, was determined to be one of five teams to secure berths into the Safeway Select once all the smoke cleared well after The Sun went to press Tuesday night. Because two of the seven teams that had advanced to main-event semifinals were ineligible to win spots, those winners were actually declared before the first rock was thrown yesterday.

"It worked out good for us, knowing that we had the spot before we played," said the two-time Brier champion.

Also making the trip to Selkirk Feb. 9-13 will be Valour Road's Randy Dutiaume, St. Vital's Doug Riach, Granite's Troy Hamilton and Morden's Brad Wainikka.

"We're excited about (returning)," said Burtnyk, supported by third Ken Tresoor, second Rob Fowler and Keith Fenton. "When we went to Selkirk the last time, we went through the MCA (bonspiel) so I'm kind of hoping that maybe it's a good omen.

"I think our team will be better off for having to go through the MCA (bonspiel) and having all these games. We're looking forward to the Grand Slam (Canadian Open) this weekend, then the Select."

Both Burtnyk and Charleswood's Jeff Stoughton are also seeking to become the first skip to win five Manitoba titles.

"I'm sure both us would like to accomplish that and it would be quite a feat if either one of us do it," said Burtnyk, who made a premature exit from the last Select. "We're going to go out there and give it our best shot and hopefully we'll have a lot better showing than we had last year."

Both Hamilton and Wainikka will be making their first trips to the Select, although their thirds have been there before.

"It's pretty overwhelming right now," said Wainikka, 46, supported by third Ian Beavis, 43, second Brian Coates, 52 and Dale Oakes, 31. "It's kind of hard to believe. But it's pretty exciting. We thought we'd just come in for some fun, then go back to work on Monday."

Hamilton, 33, was also pinching himself.

"It feels long overdue after paying your dues for such a long time," said Hamilton, supported by third Dave Shorthill, 44, second Tom Small, 34 and Jason Kasdorf, 33. "And this week, a couple of us were sick and also missed games due to work obligations, and we still got in."

Riach, who returned to skipping this season, will be making his 11th trip to the men's provincials, with third Russ Hays, 43, second Dennis Wiebe, 30, and Tim Friesen, 47.

"It's nice to be going back with Russ because I went with him four times before," said Riach, 43. "And that was a long time ago."

Riach actually took seven years off to nurse a sore knee and get married before returning in 2003, when he helped Robert Baldwinson make it to the Select. Then he reunited with Hays, who skipped last season.


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