City rink loses match, but wins berth

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

It's not often a team earns a trip to the provincials by losing a match in the Safeway Select city zone playdowns.

But Valour Road's Brent Braemer turned that trick yesterday. And Renaud Gagne, who skipped Braemer's squad, got some vindication when he was finally granted the Safeway Select berth available through the Manitoba Curling Tour thanks to Virden's Graham Freeman, this year's MCT champ, who won his rural zone yesterday.

Had both Freeman and Braemer lost, the two would have had to play off for the MCT spot in Carberry on Wednesday.

"It's nice to not have to go to Carberry," said Gagne, 39, who earned his very first trip to the men's provincials. "At least I got it before my 40th birthday."

Also supported by second Mike Friesen and lead Joel Gagne (his brother), Gagne had to beat clubmate Mark Lukowich in a special MCT playoff because his three teammates had defected to join Lukowich after Gagne won last year's MCT title. Now, Gagne can bask in the moment in front of friends and family in Steinbach next month.

"I'm actually from (nearby) Ste. Anne, so that will be nice," Gagne said. "There should be quite a few people there I know."

COUNT UP: Doug Harrison believes he has now qualified for 32 men's provincial championships.

But Rick Mutton, the MCA's unofficial historian, claims Harrison will be making his 19th appearance in men's provincial play. However, counting juniors, seniors and mixed, Harrison will be making his 34th appearance in provincials when he attempts to defend his Manitoba senior men's title at this year's championship.

Harrison, 57, who plays the 'Nedohin' position (throws last) for Howie Restall, earned a ticket to the Select when his Granite squad defeated clubmate Bob Sigurdson 7-3 in a Select city zone final.

"Playing with Doug's a thrill," said the ninth-seeded Restall, also supported by second Al Purdy and Brent Mendella. "A guy with the talent that Doug has and his experience, it's kind of nice playing with him, and who knows where we can go from here? Now we're in two provincials, so I'm looking forward to that."

Harrison had talked about sticking to seniors after skipping a younger squad into the Select last year.

"I guess with retirement, there's nothing else to do, so I might as well practise and curl," he joked. "We wanted to repeat back in the seniors, so we decided if we were going to do it, we'd play men's so that we'd play lots of games together."

Restall, 51, has no desire to give up on men's just yet.

"In a few years, I'll maybe try for the trifecta all in one year," he joked, referring to the men's, seniors and masters. "I always thought that, with the right group of guys, I can still compete (in men's)."

BITER: Barry Fry, Ryan's dad, won a rural zone spot skipping a masters squad that includes Orest Meleschuk and Johnny Usackis. It is extremely rare for a father to play against a son at the provincials.


Videos

Photos