Ugly season

ANGELA MacISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

KAMLOOPS, B.C. -- If John Morris's rink can win the PharmAssist Players Championship and the lottery, maybe it can salvage the season.

It's been a rough ride in 2004-05 for Calgary's foursome of Morris, third Kevin Koe, second Paul Moffatt and lead Marc Kennedy.

Two and out was a popular term for them last fall. It meant they'd win two on the cash circuit and then lose three straight, failing to qualify for the championship round.

Morris finished no better than third in any of his 13 events.

Morris has earned a meagre $40,000 after investing countless of thousands of dollars in the season, a leadup to the biggest spiel of many curlers' lives: The Tim Hortons Canadian Olympic Trials in Halifax Dec. 3-11. The winner gets to represent the nation in Turin, Italy, Feb. 10-26, 2006.

But after a disastrous result at the Strauss Canada Cup here last week, Morris was in need of some perking up.

"If we win St. John's and we win the lottery, maybe we salvage the season," said Morris, who leaves today for the Newfoundland capital and the WCT's PharmAssist Players Championship.

But all is not lost.

"We've made some progress chemistry wise," the 26-year-old skip from Winnipeg said. "Result-wise, it's been an uphill battle.

"Personally, I've got to play better. And we just have pick it up as a whole."

Maybe they were curling too much.

Maybe being on the road every weekend took too much out of them.

"Yeah, we're definitely going to take a different approach than playing every weekend," said Morris of preparing for trials.

Or maybe they weren't playing with the same desperation. After all, only money was on the line this season because they'd already earned berths into provincials, Olympic trials and the Canada Cup.

"I guess so," Morris said. "You don't have that desperation, I guess. But that's no excuse. This is what we do for our livings. If that isn't enough motivation, I don't know what is.

"We struggled and missed some key shots this year. We haven't been playing well this year but we've been working with Paul Webster of the National Training Centre and we've made some good progress.

"It's tough to look at that side when you don't get the results."

But all is not lost.

The foursome does see a chance for redemption against another tough field in St. John's.

And, Koe said, they have something to prove, defending the PC title they won at last spring.

"It's one of, if not the biggest event of the year," the 31-year-old said. "We'll go back there and try to defend our title, maybe get some closure on this season."

WHOA, BABY!: The Canada Cup was a long week for some curlers -- even longer for Shannon Kleibrink's second Glenys Bakker. Her second child with husband Adrian is due in August.

"I feel like I've been here a week and a half," said Bakker, whose team won the women's Canada Cup title and $37,250. "Friday was gruelling, those three games."

But the support from teammates Kleibrink, third Amy Nixon and lead Christine Keshen pulled her through. Nixon was often heard calling Bakker off her sweeping duties.

"This team is awesome," Bakker said. "Everybody stays so positive. Even when we're scrambling nobody gets down. We've come back so many times, we know that no matter how far we're down. We're not a give-up team and that makes it really fun to play."


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