Tough test ahead

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

He arose from his sickbed to help his Assiniboine Memorial team win its sixth cashspiel in eight tries.

Now, Dan Kammerlock will face the toughest test of his fledgling curling career. The third for Kerry Burtnyk will compete at a $100,000 Grand Slam, which opens in Waterloo, Ont., tonight.

"I'm just thrilled about it," Kammerlock said yesterday. "It will be quite an experience. The ice, the atmosphere, everything will be at a whole different level.

"When we played in Gander (a World Curling Tour event in Newfoundland), it was the first time I played in an arena and to hear the crowd cheering gives you a lift. You're playing the best of the best with all that money at stake."

Mind you, Burtnyk has already beaten the likes of Alberta legends Kevin Martin and Randy Ferbey with Kammerlock at vice-skip.

"It always seems like the nerves are there but I try not to let them get the best of me," said Kammerlock, in just his second year out of junior. "I find that it actually brings out the best in me."

Burtnyk, who plays Quebec's reigning Brier champion Jean-Michel Menard tonight, defeated Valour Road's James Kirkness 7-5 to win the World/Manitoba Curling Tour's Interlake Pharmacy Classic in Stonewall on Monday. However, Kammerlock was so sick with the flu, he was forced to leave Sunday's qualifier after the game started.

"My dad (Ron) drove me out there and I passed out in the car," Kammerlock said. "I knew I probably wouldn't be able to play the whole game. And Kerry told me I would be better off not to push myself because we have a big week coming up."

Jeff Stoughton is the only other Manitoba team competing in this Slam.

NO FREE RIDE: She has won the province the last two years but this is the first time that Calleen Neufeld has been named the top seed for the Target Junior Women's city zone playdowns, which start at the Charleswood and Assiniboine Memorial Curling Clubs tomorrow. Then again, this is the first time her foursome has attempted to qualify through city playdowns.

"We moved to the St. Vital (from La Salle) because it's a good club to play out of and we heard they treat their curlers very well," said Neufeld, who competes in a men's league there.

In her rural zone, Neufeld had no opposition one year.

"You feel kinda sheepish when you get a free ride," she admitted. "It's a lot better having to win something to get there because you want all your best teams at the provincials."

And being named No. 1?

"It is special," she said. "But we know that anything can happen and we'll have to play our best."

Rounding out the top five seeds were: Wildewood's Heather Pierson, Assiniboine Memorial's Michelle Montford, Wildewood's Lisa Deriviere and Victoria's Nikki Hawrylyshen.

Because there are only 12 teams, a new draw was introduced this year.

Meanwhile, Corey Chambers of Deer Lodge has been deemed the top seed for the junior men's city zones, which will be played alongside the junior women. Rounding out the top five were: West Kildonan's defending champion Travis Bale, Pembina's Kyle Peters, and Travis Hoare and Keith Edie, both of West Kildonan.

EMPTY FEELING: Eight of Manitoba's top women's teams will be competing at the Canada Cup qualifying bonspiel in Ottawa on the same weekend as the MCT Championships.

"I don't know what that leaves us with," said event co-ordinator Bob Picken. "But then, we only had four women's teams last year."

The MCT will push to have its championship date changed next year.

COMING UP

CBC-TV will be televising its first Grand Slam event ever out of Waterloo, Ont., this weekend. CBC, which took over from Sportsnet, will feature different broadcasters and offer more widespread coverage across the nation. And Ed Werenich's world championship Ontario teams will be honoured with Ambassador Awards on Saturday ... The last two Manitoba Curling Tour events before its championship go this weekend, with the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy Cash Spiel and the Thistle Integrity Stakes, which moved to Asham Arena ... The Strathcona Senior Men's Berth Bonspiel starts in Morden tomorrow while the Great Canadian Travel Senior Women's Berth Bonspiel is on at the Victoria Curling Club.

HOUSE CLEANING

Ralph Bullock of Fort Rouge defeated Heather's Greg Milloy 7-3 in the final of the Chicken Chef Masters Berth Bonspiel at the Victoria C.C. Supported by third Lawrence Russell, second Tony Galbecka and Ken Zacharias, Bullock earned a trip to the provincial Masters in Brandon, March 8-13 ... Heather's Anne Wright downed Portage la Prairie's Carly Robinson 6-4 in the final of the Chicken Chef Masters Women's Berth Bonspiel at the Pembina C.C. Supported by third Clarice Fitzpatrick, second Sandy Romano and Edith Meakin, Wright also won a spot in Brandon's provincial Masters ... Not one of five Manitoba teams earned a single dollar at a WCT spiel in Yorkton, Sask., last weekend. Jeff Stoughton pulled out because lead Steve Gould was busy moving ... And I stand corrected. Reg Speers sent a missive saying that Otterburne's two-sheet rink was actually the first to install closed-circuit TVs in Manitoba, not Stonewall.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

He barely chipped out the shot rock, then bounced off the Wildewood Curling Club ice, his feet barely touching the pebble.

Taylor McIntyre had just beaten clubmate Riley Smith 5-3 for the very first time on their home ice in the Bison A final of the Wildewood Club Youth Cash Spiel.

"It's amazing," relished McIntyre, 15.

"It's our first bonspiel win. And we totally won the A side. We were second in Manitou (junior men's berth spiel) but this is the first one we actually won."

For that accomplishment, McIntyre's squad that includes third Kyle Curtis, 14, second David Wiebe, 16 and Daniel Grant, 13, is the Sun's Team of the Week.

"We've played (Smith) four times this year and that's the first time we've beaten him," said McIntyre, who also won $200.

Both foursomes were using the popular spiel as a tune-up for both this weekend's junior men's city zone playdowns and next weekend's Canada Games Trials.

The cashspiel was full with 32 teams -- half at 17-and-under and the other half at 14-and-under -- for the eighth straight year. There were waiting lists in both categories, said organizers.

Connor Nyegovan beat Matt Dunstone 6-4 in the 14-and-under A final.


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