Junior title lures Bice again

STEVE GREEN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:06 PM ET

Starting today, Mark Bice is hoping to put the lessons learned two years ago to good use. The Sarnia skip is going to need them as he returns to the Canadian junior men's championship after a year's absence to face a formidable field. The championships in Fredericton, N.B., have five rinks making their second straight appearance in the junior men's event. Still, Bice is confident his rink of Codey Maus, Rob Pruliere and Jeff Wilson can improve on its 2003 finish, when the rink ended a game out of the playoffs with Mike Callan as the third.

"The last time, we were younger and we didn't expect to win. Afterward, it sunk in that we could play with the teams there and we could have beaten anybody," said Bice, a second-year geography student at McMaster. "This time, we know what to expect. And we can definitely beat any other team there this time; we know that much."

Maus, from the Owen Sound area, replaced Callan and the rink hasn't skipped a beat. They were runaway leaders atop the Ontario Junior Curling Tour's men's standings.

"Codey's a solid shooter and he's good with strategy. He's a pretty calm guy and doesn't get too worked up," Bice said.

"When we started out this year, we wanted to win everything."

Six rinks, led by runner-up Marie-Christine Cantin of Quebec, are making their second straight trip to the junior women's event.

The two champions represent Canada at the worlds March 3-13 in Pinerolo, Italy.

Another try for Ziola

Armed with a new front end, Kirk Ziola is making his eighth run at the Ontario men's championship with the inaugural Kia Cup starting Monday at Whitby's Iroquois Park Sports Centre.

The Ilderton skip has Darcy Tomchick moving up from second to third and has lead Steve Lodge of Woodstock and second Mark Koivula of Toronto to replace Wayne Tuck and Jake Higgs.

"We lost two great shooters, but we picked up two great shooters, too," Ziola says. "The chemistry's been great and we're all getting along famously.

"And Darcy has impressed the hell out of me at third. At the beginning of the year I talked to Darcy and said, 'Time to move up.' At first he was wondering if he'd be able to make the switch, but he's a pro. He's been to a couple of Ontario Amateurs in golf, so he can put the game together.

"We were very comfortable at zones and regionals and we played some good squads going through."

Ziola, who won the A side at both zones and regionals, will face a tough field that includes seven-time champion Glenn Howard of Coldwater, six-time winner Wayne Middaugh of Toronto St. George's, 2003 champ Bryan Cochrane of Ottawa RCMP and 2000 champion Peter Corner of Glanford, who beat Ziola in a tiebreaker last year at Owen Sound.

Around the house

Jake Attfield of Carleton Heights and Rachel Homan of Ottawa City View lead at the Ontario bantam (16-and-under) championships at Sarnia. In the boys' event, Attfield is 4-1, but six other rinks remain alive, including Matthew Mapletoft of Wallaceburg Sydenham, who is 2-3. On the girls' side, Homan is 5-0 and needs to win one of her two games today to clinch the title as there are no playoffs except to break a tie for first. . . . Colts zone playdowns are on this weekend in Niagara Falls (13), Wingham (14) and Brant (15). Grant Doty of Kingsville and Perry Smyth of Chatham Granite emerged out of last weekend's Zone 16 playdowns at Ridgetown to advance to regionals Feb. 19-20 at Dundas Granite. . . . Amie Coward of Ilderton and Charlene Haluk-McMahon of Leamington Sun Parlour came out of the Zone 16 women's trophy playdowns at Ridgetown to advance to regionals, also Feb. 19-20 at Dundas Granite. Zone 14 and 15 are on this weekend at Wingham and Brant, with Zone 13 next weekend at Burlington.


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