Rags to riches

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

What a difference a year and refreshed, old blood made.

About this time last year, Dan Kammerlock was wondering what he had gotten himself into his first year out of juniors.

"Last year, around this time, we would have been 2-6 on the (cashspiel) tour, off to a bad start and already realizing that the chemistry just wasn't there," he said.

It was so bad, in fact, that Valour Road skip James Kirkness demoted the struggling youngster to second and promoted second Richard Daneault to third. The switch made little difference to the team's fortunes and Kammerlock parted ways with Kirkness before the season even ended.

But this year, Kammerlock has found himself in a curling dream, throwing third rocks for Manitoba legend Kerry Burtnyk. The Assiniboine Memorial squad has already won three cashpiels, earning almost $39,000 and may qualify for the Canada Cup through its CTRS points.

"This is better than I could ever have imagined," said Kammerlock, 22. "It's just been great."

Kammerlock readily admitted that he did not play well for Kirkness last fall.

"I'm playing with a lot more confidence than I did last year," he said. "Now, I'm in the right mindset and I'm pumped up for games."

Ironically, Daneault is now at second for Burtnyk this year but Kammerlock harbours no fears of a repeat scenario.

"We weren't always the best of friends last year as he was frustrated after coming off some pretty successful years with (Dave) Boehmer," Kammerlock said.

"This year, everything's been good."

The foursome, which includes lead Cory Naharnie, started the season by winning a WCT spiel in Switzerland.

"That was like starting on a vacation," Kammerlock said.

But the real head-turner came when Burtnyk beat Alberta's previously-undefeated Kevin Martin in a WCT final in Gander, N.L. That day alone, Burtnyk also downed both Alberta's Randy Ferbey and Ontario's Glenn Howard -- and did not have the hammer in any one of them.

"I hadn't played any of those teams before and to beat them all in one day was an overwhelming feeling for me," Kammerlock said. "Then, I realized that this year could be quite an experience."

Coming off a one-year hiatus, Burtnyk has already been invited to the first Grand Slam of the season and is expected to be at the Winnipeg Slam come January.

WATT TRIBUTE: It is never too late to remind curlers that they lost another good one when Cec Watt recently passed away. To recognize his indefatigable work with juniors over the years, the Cec Watt Memorial Trophy will replace the Dan Davidson award at the Christmas Junior Men's Bonspiel. A well-deserved tribute for one of the nicest guys ever involved in the sport.

BITERS: Although Jon Mead may fill in for Ontario's Glenn Howard at a WCT spiel or two, that does not mean Jeff Stoughton's former third is ending his current leave of absence from the competitive scene, he said ... MCA technical director Bill Biehl has been appointed the curling development co-ordinator for the Federation of Italian Ice Sports ... The deadline for entry into the Safeway Select Southern Berth Bonspiel is today at 4:30 p.m. ... The Assiniboine Memorial is hosting a fundraising social to help cover the cost of a $30,000 roof on Friday, Oct. 27. Tickets are only $10 each at the club.


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