No time like present

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 2:18 PM ET

BRANDON -- Finding a way to win. That's often what separates the good teams from the great ones.

Kerry Burtnyk, one of this province's all-time greats, found a new way to win here, yesterday. And it stunk.

It stunk for Brendan Taylor, the little-known skip from the Grain Exchange, it stunk for the 500 or so fans watching -- it even stunk for Burtnyk.

Taylor, leading 6-5 coming home in what was shaping up to be a monumental upset, was getting ready to throw his last rock when the clock ran out on his team.

Give Kerry Burtnyk the last two shots of any close game and you can bet on the outcome.

In this case, an open hit for three and an 8-6 win, leaving Burtnyk one victory away from the playoff round of eight at the Manitoba men's curling championship.

"It's a horrible way to win a game, the way that ended," a grim Burtnyk said later. "The curling game is supposed to end the normal way. It was such a great game all the way. I guess rules are rules, but it doesn't make us feel any better."

You think he felt bad? You should have seen the looks on the faces of Team Taylor. It looked like they'd just been told they had cat for lunch.

"It stings," third Kyle Werenich said. "Never even been remotely close to losing a game on the time clock. That's a first."

But it might not be the last, if you listen to the curlers here, who say they're on a much tighter clock than they're used to.

The issue is the 30 seconds given to teams between ends. That half minute, which doesn't count towards each team's 73-minute total allotment, is being started way too early, the charge is.

'SOUR GRAPES'

"We've noticed they're very quick," Werenich said. "Through the course of 10 ends that could almost be a minute and a half, two minutes. We'll take a little bit of fault for it. I'm not going to sit here and bash anyone for it. But it's something they should address."

Sour grapes, you say? Not so fast.

Because it wasn't just the losing team that had a bad taste in its mouth.

"A lot of guys are complaining now about how the time is starting," Taylor said.

One of them is Burtnyk.

"It seems like the 30 seconds between ends starts long before it's supposed to," Burtnyk said. "It's hard to monitor, because we're not going to be watching the clock all the time."

Now, Team Taylor admits it should have been paying more attention. And I'm for anything that moves these games along a little quicker (you ever try to sit through four draws a day?).

But if there are several complaints, officials here should take a look at it.

Werenich isn't holding his breath.

"They'll squawk about it for a while and wait until the next guy gets burned by it," he said.

Maybe not.

The head official here says there is a bit of leeway as to when that 30-second clock starts. And he's promising to look into it.

The guy, after all, is a curling fan, too.

"It's a horrible way to end a curling game -- I agree with both of them," Dave Petursson said.

At the same time, Petursson suggests teams keep a closer eye on their clocks. And maybe take a peek in the mirror, while they're at it.

"Their fate is in their hands," he said. "They had 73 minutes to play all their rocks, and they didn't quite get it in. So be it."

Werenich vows his team will bounce back, but you wonder. It's not often you get a shot at beating one of the Big Three.

It's less often you lose to a clock.

"My old man has," Taylor said. "He actually lost to Al Hackner that way in the senior playdowns. I said it would never happen to me, but it looks like it bit me there.

"Oh well, live and learn, right? Chalk it down to experience."

And mark it down as one we don't want to see again.


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