'Night plane' soars

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

DAUPHIN -- It was, to say the least, quite a trip. Or, to be more accurate, trips.

Ron Westcott hopped a plane in Thunder Bay, caught a connecting flight in Toronto and landed in Winnipeg at 12:45 a.m. yesterday. He rushed home, spent an hour e-mailing messages, took an hour nap, then drove to Dauphin with two softball buddies at 3:30 a.m. He got to the Credit Union Place ice in time for his 8:30 a.m. Safeway Championship game, then skipped his Fort Rouge foursome to a 9-8 victory over Neepawa's Kelly Robertson. In an extra end.

"You know the 'Night Train,' Dave Boehmer? We're the 'Night Train, Black and White edition,' " Westcott joked after the triumph.

Black and white, he said, because he is old enough to remember black and white TV.

Boehmer suggested that Westcott should be known as 'Night Plane.'

"I booked the (business) trip because I didn't think we'd ever win (a Safeway Championship spot) with my team," said Westcott, 62. "I just tried to focus and I feel good just because it's nice and cool out here (arena). Anyway, we got the win and now I can sleep."

But surely, he got some shuteye during the 3 1/2-hour midnight ride here?

"I'm trying to sleep and they're talking softball so, I have to get involved because I know way more about softball," said Westcott, who is also a well-respected ball player.

But it is not the first time Westcott has curled with such little sleep.

"I've never curled through the night, I've partied through the night," he said. "Remember, I played with Orest Meleschuk over the years and a few other guys like that. But you know curling, when it's time to play, you're ready to play. I like to socialize, that's why I play. It's fun."

Supported by third Howie Restall, second Bob Boughey and lead Don Shiach, Westcott upset the No. 10 seed.

"It was nice to get a win here and it was a heck of a game," he said. "And we played well. We just wanted to come here and play well, and maybe get a win or two. And we're having fun."

But Westcott was still kicking himself for failing to qualify for the senior men's provincial championship that starts Feb. 22.

"We would rather be in the seniors," said the former senior champ. "That's where we feel we are competitive, even though a lot of us are Masters. The seniors is really a nice event with lots of prestige. Being here is nice, but we know and you know the situation. Losing out in the seniors was tough because that's where we want to be. And it's in our home club this year. I'm still sick about it."

Westcott qualified for the men's through the MCA bonspiel after Restall changed his delivery, returning to sliding with a cornbroom over the crutch.

"He's playing brilliantly," Westcott said. "In the seniors, he was awful and he will admit it."

Meanwhile, the more well-rested top four seeds opened with victories. Charleswood's defending champion Jeff Stoughton seared Steinbach's Russ Kihn 9-4, Assiniboine Memorial's top-seeded Kerry Burtnyk blasted Flin Flon's Don Holmes 12-3, Valour Road's third-seeded Randy Dutiaume out-scored Thompson's Rae Hainstock 12-7 and Petersfield's Boehmer, No. 4, sunk Arborg's Kyle Foster 9-6.

"It's nice to get that first one under our belt," Stoughton said. "It's kind of nerve-wracking at the start because you don't know what to expect."

Even Burtnyk admitted to being anxious before his opener.

"It's always nice to get the first one under your belt because waiting around to play the first game is always a little bit of jitters," he said.

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DAY 1

Game of the day

- Granite's Bob Sigurdson stole one in an extra end to nip St. Vital's Dave Smith 7-6 in a game that featured some great shots by both sides. Smith, however, missed a come-around tap back that could have won the game with the hammer in the extra end because he was a tad heavy.

Today's feature match

- Swan River's former champion Brent Scales plays Beausejour's promising Reid Carruthers at 12:25 p.m.

"You know the 'Night Train,' Dave Boehmer? We're the 'Night Train, Black and White edition.' "

Ron Westcott


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