'Wright roll for Red Deer rink

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

To beat Alberta's big guns, one curling key is to heat up at just the right time.

Cue Red Deer's Rob Armitage, who takes a red-hot hand into the provincial final next month after finding the perfect roll at the 2009 Southern Alberta Curling Association's Boston Pizza Cup, a.k.a. the Southerns.

The veteran skip reeled off five straight wins at Southerns, capped by yesterday's 6-3 B-final victory over Calgary's Dean Ross at The Glencoe Club, to earn a spot at the 2009 Alberta Men's Curling Championship in Wainwright, Feb. 11-15.

"We are on a roll," said Armitage, 51. "But being a realist, there's Kevin Martin and Kevin Koe and Randy Ferbey (at provincials). A team like Kevin's has played 100 games this year on arena -- or fake -- ice. We've played 30 to 40 games on curling-rink ice.

"You've got to manage the game on the curling-rink ice -- you've got to take what the ice gives you."

In Wainwright on arena ice, the surface will be more swingy than at a curling club, allowing for plenty of technique on shots, which gives Alberta's top curlers an edge on the non-favourites.

"The last time we beat Martin was on curling-club ice (in the '06 Canada Cup West)," Armitage said. "In Wainwright, if the ice isn't just right, Martin will make sure they get it just right."

Armitage, a 10-time provincial competitor, feels his experience should help adjust to the change in ice. He'll take a veteran rink third Shaun Meachem, second Trevor Sparks and lead Steve Matejka to the competition after showing composure at Southerns.

They heated up after losing his opening draw to Coaldale's Darren Moulding on the A side. Included was a semi-final victory over Calgary Winter Club's Chris Schille.

Moulding also knocked Ross from the A event, but the 2008 Canadian mixed champ rebounded with three straight wins, including a defeat of Dan Petryk in yesterday's semifinal to make the B final.

In that final, Ross wrecked on two of his own rocks in both the seventh and eighth ends, allowing Armitage to count two in each end and take a commanding 6-2 lead.

The Calgary skip managed to score one in the ninth, but Armitage ran Ross out of rocks in the 10th to win it 6-3.

At provincials, he'll join Calgary Curling Club's Steve Petryk, the A-event champ, and the winner of today's C final (1 p.m.).

"The way the game was going, I just didn't want him to play with a lead, because he likes to play with the lead. It was a real good deal to get a deuce and get up two on them (in the seventh). And in Dean's defence, the rock picked on him in the seventh end, and that hurt him."


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