Burtnyk off to roaring start

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:24 AM ET

Glenn Howard? Toast.

Randy Ferbey? No problem.

Kevin Martin? See ya.

That was Kerry Burtnyk's impressive hit list Sunday in the playoff round of the World Curling Tour's Don Bartlett Classic in Gander, N.L.

Burtnyk, the 1995 world champion who is back with a new team this year after taking last winter off, downed Martin 7-3 in the final to win the $20,000 top prize.

And for those of you keeping score, that makes Burtnyk's crew 3-for-3 in bonspiels entered this season.

Forget Martin's high-profile merger with John Morris; it looks like Burtnyk's Winnipeg squad is the team to beat.

"Well, I think it's a little early to be saying stuff like that," Burtnyk said with a laugh yesterday. "We're pretty pleased with how things have gone for the first few spiels, though."

Burtnyk, 47, went to the fountain of youth when putting together his new team. He recruited Dan Kammerlock, 22, to play third and a pair of 29-year-olds, Richard Daneault and Cory Naharnie, to man the front end.

Their first event was last month in Baden, Switzerland, where they captured the $11,000 first prize, but Burtnyk said the team gained something even more valuable than that.

"It was a good decision we made in going over to Switzerland, where we spent a week together getting to know each other," Burtnyk said. "We were able to have some fun as well as the curling.

"... That was an important trip for us, to have a chance to get to know each other and develop a little bit of team camaraderie."

That bond paid off in Sunday's final, as Burtnyk snapped Martin's 15-game winning streak to start the season. And beating two other premier Canadian teams didn't hurt, either.

"What it does is it takes a lot of the pressure off, because we've already banked some money and we've banked some confidence," Burtnyk said. "To beat the three teams we beat on Sunday in Gander lets us know that we are capable of beating anybody.

"Now it's going to basically be: How do we handle that, and where do we take it from here? So hopefully we'll start building on that."

Burtnyk's team will try to make it 4-for-4 this weekend in the Asham 8-Ender Men's Open at Winnipeg's Asham Arena.


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