Manitoba falls flat after a fast start

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

It was not supposed to end this way. It took Manitoba's Howie Restall 15 years to get back to the national stage. He started it with a bang but is ending it with a whimper.

After winning his first four games, Restall lost five straight to drop out of playoff contention at the Canadian Senior Men's and Women's Championships.

"It is really frustrating -- especially when you start 4-0," Restall said after dropping a 10-4 decision to New Brunswick's David Sullivan at the East St. Paul Curling Club yesterday. "Unfortunately for us, we're just in a little bit of a funk and it's a bad time to be in a funk.

"It's hair-pulling because you don't know what to do to correct it. You don't know if you're calling the wrong shots, if you're not executing right and when you start losing, you start pressing a little bit. What can ya do? Just come out (today), try to win our two games and go 6-5."

Restall calls the shots while Doug Harrison throws the last brick.

"It's been absolutely horrible," said Harrison, who also has Doug Holmes and Bill Hodgson on the front end. "We didn't play great to start off with but we got some Ws. I thought things would go a lot better and, nothing worked. Everyone played well against us and we didn't rise to the challenge. It's very disappointing."

Harrison also refused to blame the performance on nagging back pain.

ADVANCING

Only the top three teams make the playoffs with the first-place squad advancing to Sunday's 2 p.m. final.

Alberta's Les Rogers, Saskatchewan's Eugene Hritzuk and Northern Ontario's Al Harnden are tied atop the men's standings with 7-2 records

Restall finishes the round robin with games against Nova Scotia and Ontario today.

On the women's side, Manitoba's Linda Van Daele fell to 4-4 after getting whipped 9-2 by B.C.'s Kathy Smiley. Van Daele, who was playing Ontario's Joyce Potter (6-2) last night, wraps up the round robin with games against Nova Scotia and Quebec today.

Smiley headed into the late draw in a four-way tie for first at 6-2.

Meanwhile, reports that the World Curling Federation is still seeking a venue for next year's world championships -- and may not even find one -- had local organizers baffled. That, of course, means there may be no senior worlds for this week's winners, who are supposed to represent Canada next year.

"There's no question that it's detrimental to this whole thing," said host committee chair Carl German. "Am I surprised? No. And the (women's) worlds are making it sooo attractive to host one right now, and I understand the senior worlds are not much better."

No such problems have plagued the senior nationals.

"No power failure, no frost, no water," German said. "We would have liked a little better attendance but it is picking up."

Each draw has averaged about 160-170 fans.

Draws are at 8 a.m., noon, 4 and 8 p.m. today, with semifinals scheduled for tomorrow at 2 p.m. (barring a ton of tie-breakers).


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