City bonspiel like a 'mini-Brier'

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

Bruce Delaney likes some of the stuff he's won at the City of Ottawa Bonspiel.

His favourite prize: A Shop Vac.

"My garage was never cleaner," he says.

The Navy Curling Club skip has lots of experience making trips to the prize table over the years at this event.

No name more than his is engraved on the Grand Aggregate Shield, the bonspiel's top award.

It appears seven times -- five as a skip and twice as a vice.

His first win came as vice on the Don "Punchy" MacLean team in 1979.

KNOCKED OFF FORMER SKIP

The next year, Delaney formed his own squad and knocked off MacLean for the Grand Aggregate title.

"That was kind of memorable," says Delaney. "We were into the cross-Canada curling scene pretty heavy, and sure enough, we played him in the final the next year."

Delaney hasn't won the Grand Aggregate for a few years and suspects his time at the top of the City of Ottawa heap are gone.

But he returns each year because it's a tradition.

It isn't the same competitive spiel it was back in the 1970s or '80s, but Delaney still wouldn't skip the event for anything.

"I've never missed," says Delaney, who won his first game of the tournament yesterday over Huntley's Dave Hayley.

CAN ENTER SENIORS PLAY

"It's not necessarily about winning it now, although we try to win it."

He believes it's the friendship and the good times at this event that brings teams back each year.

"A lot of these guys, this is their mini-Brier," says Delaney. "This is the highlight of the year, and it's probably the biggest 'spiel they'll play in."

Delaney is 51 and might compete in the seniors division (for 50 and older) next year with a dream team of sorts that might consist of Rick Bachand and Duncan Jamieson, two former Grand Aggregate championship skips.

"I'm not ready to play against the old guys yet," he says.

And it will be many more years before he uses one of the many gold pocket watches he's won at this tournament.

"I just have to be 70 years old to wear them."

The bonspiel continues at various clubs in the Ottawa region until Sunday evening.

CORRECTION: The Gary Smith team from the Ottawa Curling Club won last year's senior Grand Aggregate championship. Wally Morris served as skip with teammates Mike Loewen, Cal Hegge and Smith.

MERKLINGER, MORRIS PICK UP WINS: Anne Merklinger of the Rideau Curling Club beat Cheryl Bernard of Calgary 8-6 yesterday to improve to 2-1 at the Canada Cup of Curling in Kamloops, B.C. On the men's side, Ottawa native John Morris, who now curls out of Calgary, upped his record 2-0 with an 11-2 of Mike Harris' rink from Oakville. Morris faced Winnipeg's Kerry Burtnyk in last night's late draw.


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