The class of '93 is holding a reunion here at the Iroquois Sports Centre in Whitby this weekend. But don't expect too many warm mushy moments between Wayne Middaugh, Glenn Howard and Peter Corner over the next two days.
Twelve years after sharing a world curling championship as members of the Russ Howard-led team, the three friends have become foes in their quest to represent Ontario at the Tim Hortons Brier, which kicks off on March 5 at Edmonton's Rexall Place.
After a week of round-robin action at the Kia Cup men's provincial curling championships, the teams led by Middaugh, Howard and Corner are the only ones that remain standing.
"It shows you what a powerful team we had in the early '90s with Russ, Glenn, Wayne and I," Corner said last night after advancing to tonight's semi-final with a 8-4 victory over Greg Balsdon's Guelph Country Club rink.
"At that time, who would have thought all four of us would one day be skips in the provincials?"
For the record, Russ Howard recently was defeated in the final of the New Brunswick provincial championships and will not be going to the Brier.
Corner, who finished the round-robin at 6-3, will play the loser of this afternoon's contest between the top-seeded Middaugh, 8-1, and Glenn Howard, 7-2.
The winner of the Middaugh-Howard game, meanwhile, automatically advances to tomorrow's final.
It's a set-up which does not thrill Middaugh.
The Midland native feels he should have a free pass into the championship game because he finished atop the standings during round-robin play.
Instead he must meet Howard this afternoon. And should he come up short on the scoreboard in that one, he'll have to face Corner, his cousin, in the sudden-death semi.
"In our biggest curling event we've ever had, which is the Olympic trials, first gets a bye to the final while two plays three," Middaugh told reporters yesterday. "But in all the other (championships) we have to use this system."
"It seems a little backward. It almost penalizes you for finishing first," he added.
Through it all, Middaugh makes no secret of the fact his top priority is to earn a berth in the Olympic trials. One of the three remaining ways to accomplish that is to be the top team at the Brier that hasn't already qualified for the Trials.
"It's a means to an end," Middaugh said of the Kia Cup. "Our goal has always been to get to the Olympic trials."
FERBEY NEAR BRIER
In the Alberta playdowns, the Randy Ferbey team finished its round-robin pool with a perfect 5-0 record, clinching top spot yesterday morning with a 9-1 win over Mark Johnson.
Ferbey plays Jamie King today in a Page playoff game, with the winner advancing directly to the final tomorrow.
"We're ready for the playoffs,'' Ferbey fourth Dave Nedohin said. "We feel good about our game going against King.''