Trial by fire for rink

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

He is breaking in a brand new squad, with a front end just out of junior.

And in just their third World Curling Tour cashspiel together, Pembina's Bill Kuran will face the daunting task of playing Alberta's living legends Randy Ferbey at the inaugural $52,000 Meyers Norris Penny Prairie Classic in Portage la Prairie today at high noon.

"It's a challenge to see what the team is made of," Kuran, who led the Manitoba Curling Tour's money list before last year's championship with a different foursome, said yesterday. "I have confidence in the guys, they can all throw.

"If we can play a top team like Kerry Burtnyk and beat them in a big spiel (last year), then we can play Ferbey and beat them, too. They're only human. Hopefully, as a team, we can shoot in the mid-90s and see if we can stay in the game for awhile. I know the guys are really looking forward to it."

Kuran's new squad includes second Adam Walker, who played third for Reed Carruthers when he won the junior provincial championship, lead Ryan Hlatkey, who played for Carruthers last season, and third Dan Bender, in just his third year of men's.

Kuran had originally planned to take this year off but, by the time he changed his mind, his players had already joined other teams. This new squad has yet to earn any cash.

"I'm not disappointed," said Kuran. "My guys have played some good teams already and just about every game we've lost, it's been by one point or in an extra end. Eventually, we'll get the breaks to go for us and we'll start winning those one-point games. But I think the guys are having a lot of fun."

The triple-knockout Classic replaces the popular McCain SuperSpiel West that ended when McCain terminated its sponsorship last season. Unlike previous years when admission was free, fans will be charged $15 for an event pass and $5 for a daily pass at the Portage Curling Club.

The 32-team field includes Ontario's Glenn Howard and Wayne Middaugh, reigning Manitoba champion Randy Dutiaume and Manitoba's Vic Peters, Dave Boehmer and Don Spriggs of Portage.

The final will be played Monday at 6:30 p.m. with the winner earning $15,000 and $9,000 to the runner-up.

BITER: The MCT's $10,000 Lloyd Gunnlaugson Memorial Senior Bonspiel for both men and women has already started at the Asham Arena (formerly the Valour Road Curling Club) this week.


Videos

Photos