St. Thomas's Lyle setting hectic winter schedule

STEVE GREEN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

Jim Lyle's busy winter isn't going to get much slower any time soon.

The St. Thomas skip and his rink of Larry Smyth, Pete DeKoning and Ted Smith are 3-3 and in a four-way tie for third after a 7-5 loss to Roy Vallillee of Navan in the sixth round of the Ontario senior men's curling championship yesterday in Lindsay.

Lyle meets Neil Harrison (3-3) of Brampton, a former world champion lead for Ed Werenich, in the final round-robin draw today at 12:30 p.m. A win guarantees Lyle at least a tiebreaker.

Bob Stafford and his Kingsville rink of Devin Daniel, Bob Quick and Tom Geiger are also 3-3 after stealing two in the 11th to beat Gord Norton (3-3) of Annandale 8-6. Stafford meets Layne Noible (2-4) of Ottawa Rideau in the seventh draw.

Vallillee and four-time champ Bob Turcotte of Scarborough are 5-1 and meet today with both already in the playoffs.

Lyle and Smith have another provincial date next month, as they teamed with Kevin Breivik and Ken Baute to win the A side of the TSC Tankard regionals last weekend at Goderich Maitland and earn a trip to the Ontario men's final Feb. 12-18 at the Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre. Stafford, curling out of Chatham Granite, won the B side to match Lyle's double.

"It's great to have one more chance to go back," Breivik, who throws third stones, said yesterday of his ninth provincial appearance. "I'll never forget my first one and it's always great to be in that atmosphere. It's always been in an arena since I've played in them, so it feels like a Brier.

"And one of the motivations was to get Ken Baute to his first provincials . . . because he deserves it."

With Lyle and Smith doing double duty, the Tankard rink hasn't played outside of zone and regional playdowns. And with former champions Glenn Howard of Coldwater, Wayne Middaugh of Toronto St. George's and Bryan Cochrane of Ottawa RCMP also headed to Sarnia, Breivik is realistic about his team's chances.

"We're not playing the teams like Howard and Middaugh are playing every week," he said. "We'll have to hope those guys make mistakes and we're at the top of our game."

Also qualifying for Sarnia through regional play were Damien Villard of Renfrew, Wayne Warren of Cannington and Greg Balsdon of Guelph. The remaining two entries will be determined at the Challenge Rounds starting Friday in St. Catharines and Bobcaygeon.

HIGHLAND RINK TIED FOR THIRD

At the Ontario senior women's championship, also in Lindsay, Ruth Alexander and her Highland rink of Gayle George, Karen Webster and Sue Bierbaum were 2-3 and in a three-way tie for fourth heading into today's final two draws. Alexander scored three in the 10th to beat over Raja Wysocki of Winchester in the fourth draw, but then fell 9-2 to 2005 champion Joyce Potter of Ottawa Rideau.

DEFENDING CHAMP QUALIFIES

Defending Ontario champion Krista Scharf of Thunder Bay's Fort William CC was one of four Northern Ontario rinks to advance to the provincial Scotties Tournament of Hearts starting Monday at Mississauga Dixie.

Scharf, 4-7 in the national Hearts a year ago at the John Labatt Centre, will be joined by Arynn Frantz of Coniston, Maggie Mazzuca of Copper Cliff and Michele Boland of Fort William from the north along with the two Challenge Round winners -- 1990 Canadian champion Alison Goring of Thornhill Bayview and Karen Bell of Brant -- and the four regional winners from the south (Jo-Ann Rizzo of Brant, 2005 Ontario champ Jenn Hanna of Rideau, Saran Harvey of Unionville and three-time provincial champ Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater).

SARNIA RINK TAKES BONSPIEL

John Epping and his Sarnia rink of Jason Young, Mark Bice and Rob Pruliere beat Ean McDonald and his host club team of Dave Heinrichs, Bill Cantelon and Sid Nadelin 6-3 to win the 97th annual City of London bonspiel at the London Curling Club and pocket $1,200. In the semis, Epping beat Ontario junior champ Ryan Myler of Highland 4-3 and McDonald beat Jim O'Marra of St. Thomas 5-4. In the second event final, Darryl Shane of Kitchener beat Chinese women's champion Wang Binyu 8-4. Pete McKinley and Dave Mann, both of LCC, won the third and fourth events, respectively.

AROUND THE HOUSE

- Bantam: David Easter of London CC, Travis Fanset and Aaron Squires of St. Thomas and Brock Shute of Exeter were among the zone qualifiers who advanced to regionals this weekend at Chatham Granite. On the girls' side, regional qualifiers included Erin Daniel of Highland, Sheryl Davie of Sarnia, Lindsay Chordash of Woodstock, Lynsay Longfield of St. Thomas, Lana Shapton of Exeter and Kendra Falconer of Vanastra.

- Masters: Lloyd Harris of St. Thomas, Jerry Dillow of Stratford, Stewart Leedham of Wingham and Jack Nickel of Listowel were among the area men's qualifiers for the regionals next weekend in Niagara Falls. Women's qualifiers included Carolyn Sheppard of ilderton, Ann de Ryk of Aylmer and Joan Tomas of Listowel.

- Holiday Inn Challenge: Spencer Townley of Ilderton, Perry Smyth of Chatham Granite, Stefan Patterson of Tillsonburg and Kevin Matheson of Listowel were among the zone qualifiers for the 32-rink provincial final this weekend in Brighton and Trenton.

- Best Western Challenge: The tourney includes Tracey Gordon of Ilderton, and Jennifer Urbanski of Forest among the 32 provincial qualifiers.


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