Faint hope

ANGELA MacISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

Maybe it's something in the water up north. Or it's the air down here.

Whatever it is, a team from southern Alberta hasn't won the provincial championship since Ed Lukowich in 1994.

John Morris, a transplant from the Ontario circuit, came closest this year but got knocked out in the first game of the Page playoff system, losing 7-5 to Red Deer's Rob Armitage.

Lukowich is just as dismayed as the other folks in the southern region.

"Ugh," he exclaimed. "It was not too flattering, was it?"

The other three Calgary rinks, Adrian Bakker, Terry Meek and Frank Morissette, didn't crack the playoff round and the title ultimately went to -- who else? --Randy Ferbey of Edmonton.

"No, nobody was in a sniff of winning the provincials," said Lukowich, who is still based in Calgary but is USA Curling's athlete development director. "A lot of our teams this year were old school. They've won the odd cashspiel here and there but nothing too substantial.

"Morris, now he's the only guy who's won anything like a major title. He got the (World Curling) Tour championship last year but he can't get it done yet."

But Lukowich won't count him out.

The old dog, who won the province and the Brier in 1978 and '86, likes the up-and-comers in the area, especially Morris, J.D. Lind and Darren Moulding.

Moulding, the 2003 junior provincial champ, was runner-up to Ontario men's champ Wayne Middaugh at the I Love NY spiel in Utica, N.Y., last fall.

Lukowich points to the 22-year-old skip as the future.

"If I wasn't working with USA Curling, I would like to work with a guy like Darren," Lukowich said. "He throws the high, hard one. Once his finesse game gets a little better, he'll be real good.

"Maybe what these young guys need is what Dave Nedohin has, an older guy on the team like Randy Ferbey, to help through a few years and get some real solid experience and winning attitude in the big leagues."

But, in the meantime, Ferbey has put together a string of five provincial titles, three Briers as a skip and two world championships.

At provincials, he's on a 34-game winning streak.

"That's ludicrous," Lukowich said with a chuckle. "I won 16 straight at one time and I thought I was really doing something."

Will no one in Alberta be able to unseat the mighty Ferbey, along with his band of cohorts Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer and Marcel Rocque?

"Anybody is beatable," said Lukowich, who was on a super team with Ferbey and Don Walchuk a few years ago.

"I like the way Randy skips. When I did most of my skipping it was in the 1970s and '80s, when the hit rules were in place. I always loved to draw and play a lot of offence.

"So I like the way he skips, because he runs a tremendous amount of offence. He doesn't even know what the word 'chicken' means, he really goes after it."

And the team could use that old Turtles song as its background music at the club: Happy Together.

"That's one thing Randy Ferbey has: Four great players who are all very, very happy playing their positions," Lukowich said.

"They're not looking to move up and all be skipping. They'd sooner be lead or second on a championship team than a skip on a losing team."


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