Hot Riach enjoying 'great roll'

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

A lot has changed for Doug Riach since he won the MCA Bonspiel's grand aggregate in 1992.

He got married, had kids, took six years off from the game after hurting his knee and shed his image as the wild man of Manitoba curling.

But apparently he's still got game.

"I had long hair, and now I don't have any hair," Riach laughed yesterday after running his record to 14-0 at the 118th annual spiel.

"(But) the old guys know me. This should be no surprise really. You talk to any competitive team, they know they've got a game when (they play us). I took six years off, but I've been here, I've done it."

Riach, 44, and St. Vital teammates Russ Hays, Dennis Wiebe and Tim Friesen are into the semifinals in both main events, and have clinched at least a playoff for one of five available berths in the Safeway Select provincial men's curling championship and at least a playoff for the grand aggregate title.

Riach blasted Vic Peters of Valour Road 8-2 last night in the quarter-finals of the other main event, ending Peters' hopes of qualifying for the Select in his hometown of Steinbach.

"We haven't won anything yet," Riach said after beating Select-bound Ryan Hyde of Portage 6-5 at Thistle yesterday afternoon. "It'll be nice to carry into two semifinals and have two chances. You've got to be playing (today) to have a hope. We have a hope."

Riach, the only undefeated skip in the bonspiel, will play Ian Beavis of Morden in one semifinal this morning and will take on Bryan Preston of Warren in the other event semifinal this afternoon. A win over Beavis will clinch the grand aggregate for Riach.

Wayne Ewasko of Selkirk takes on Ryan Bay of Pembina and Reid Carruthers of Valour Road faces Allan Lyburn of Brandon in the other event semifinals. Lyburn already has a berth in the Select, but any other semifinal winners will earn Select berths. Semifinal losers will play off for the remaining berth(s).

Also eliminated from Select contention yesterday was James Kirkness of Valour Road, who fell 11-3 to Preston last night.

Defending grand aggregate winner and provincial champion Randy Dutiaume also bowed out of the bonspiel yesterday with an 11-6 loss to Beavis.

Riach, who has played in 11 provincial championships, including last year's in Selkirk, is more concerned with earning a trip to Steinbach than winning the grand aggregate.

"That would be gravy," he said, adding that he's on one of the greatest rolls of his life. "It's kind of unreal. ... I mean you just go with it."

Riach, who won a provincial mixed title in 1987 and the city club champions championship last year, fell off the scene in 1996 when he blew out his knee during the MCA.

"Then I got married, had a couple of kids and got talked out of (playing)," he said. "But I have the ability, let's put it that way."

The event finals will be played tonight at 7:45 at Fort Rouge and Rossmere. If Riach is in both finals, one final will be played at 4 p.m., at Rossmere.


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