Provincials will be fire on ice

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:08 AM ET

Pre-election day started with a plea.

It was late Sunday night. The winners celebrated and the survivors mulled over their chances for last night's C Event final.

"Hey, ConMan," yelled Lorne Hostyn, third for the David Stewart crew out of Wetaskiwin. "Are there any MacDonalds left in this spiel?"

No, not unless Big Mac and Mini Mac have an evil twin hiding somewhere in the weeds.

"Good," said Hostyn. "At least, we have a chance now."

Hostyn and Stewart rode that chance and a four-game winning streak into the C final, but dropped a 4-3 decision to Chris Schille's fuzzy-cheeked foursome from the Crestwood.

THE KNEE GAVE OUT

Schille threw third rocks for the Rob Armitage team that lost last year's provincial semi to Jamie King. When Armitage's knee finally said 'no more,' Schille stepped in.

"It's been an unbelievable week," said Schille, skipping a team into the provincials just two years after skipping the Alberta junior winner. "Everything about the week. We lost our first game to Brent and rattled off five in a row before we come up against the other MacDonald (extra-end loss in B semi). To lose our first one, we knew we had a long weekend ahead of us."

As the laughs got louder Sunday night, there was a serious moment. Blake MacDonald asked who else had made it into next month's provincial at the Saville Centre.

He thought for a moment and whistled.

"You know," said Mini Mac. "It's going to be the best provincial ever. Not just the best Alberta provincial, but the best provincial ever. Anywhere."

That's music to the ears of Saville Centre facility manager Aaron Skillen and curling club manager Rob Krepps.

The club shelled out a $12,000 hosting fee to hold the event this year, gambling it would be a huge draw in the world's curling hotbed.

They needed the type of field they have to help sell the major-league prices they're charging for event passes. It's a couple of grand each for 22 corporate boxes holding eight people each, about $250 per person. VIP seating is $175 and ice-level bleachers are going at $125 a pop.

It's being held in a curling rink. Not a rinky-dink rink, for sure. But it's away from the arena atmosphere that has been so successful this century. Still, this is a rock show.

"It's going to be unreal," said Schille. "It feels really good to be in that class."

Start at the top with Randy Ferbey and Kevin Martin. Defending world champ and the No. 1-ranked team in the world. Martin is in his first provincials since 2001, a real oddity.

Add Calgary's John Morris, who knocked Ferbey out of the recent Olympic Trials.

EDMONTON CONTINGENT

Then the Edmonton contingent is headlined by Mark Johnson and Ryan Keane, the top two teams from the Alberta Curling Federation's tour. Brent MacDonald, Jamie King and Schille from this area will draw support.

Rounding out the south are Dean Ross and Steve Petryk from the Calgary Club.

Watch for a couple of Edmonton connections from the southern invaders - Marc Kennedy of St. Albert plays front end for Morris. Kevin Park of Edmonton will fling last brick for Petryk, the weekend after he subs for Dave Nedohin at the Canada Cup.

And don't forget the Sexsmith duo of Kurt Balderston and Rob Maksymetz. Balderston lost the 2004 final to Ferbey.

This one could be plenty o' fun.


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