Old man and the three

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

He's represented Canada on the world curling stage, yet he's never participated in a Manitoba men's championship.

That's about to change.

Winnipeg's Ray Fillion, who played for the Carl German team at the 2002 world senior men's championship in Bismarck, N.D., has earned his first trip to the Safeway Championship at the tender age of 63. Calling the game for Braden Zawada's Springfield foursome, Fillion earned one of the final five provincial berths yesterday through the 121st MCA Bonspiel.

"It's awesome," Fillion said. "I'm older than the three of them put together."

It's true, as Zawada, Ian Fordyce and Steve Dash are all 20 years old and less than a month removed from an appearance in the provincial junior men's championship. They played for Travis Bale at the Granite last month and were coached by none other than Fillion. So when Bale entered the MCA with another team, the remaining trio asked its coach, who hadn't curled since November 2007, to join them.

Fillion explains how it went down: "They texted me and said, 'What are you doing on the 29th?' and I said, 'Nothing that I know of, why?' So they said, 'Well, you want to go to the Tank?' They said, 'Yeah, we're going to take you to the Tank.' It turns out we are. It's pretty cool.

An awestruck Zawada, meanwhile, will be skipping a team at the provincial championship in one of his first years of eligibility.

"I'm extremely happy, especially since it's in Selkirk," said Zawada, an Oakbank resident who is studying anthropology at the University of Manitoba. "I remember going to watch the last Select that was in Selkirk. It's the perfect venue. It's awesome. To be able to go back there and be a player instead of a spectator, I can't wait.

"It was a bad ending to junior, but a good way to start out the men's career."

The other four provincial berth winners yesterday were St. Vital's Dave Smith and Darryl Friesen, Rob Cosens of West St. Paul and Riverton's Shawn Magnusson, who all qualified as either semifinalists or quarter-finalists in the two major events.

Friesen and Magnusson must have been thanking their lucky stars, however, as three teams who would have qualified for berths ahead of them didn't have MCA competitive cards and were therefore ineligible for a berth. St. Vital's Merv Satterthwaite and Fort Rouge's Lindsey Dahl didn't get cards prior to the bonspiel, while the Heather's Bernie Wenden had the wrong kind.

Kyle Einarson defeated Randy Neufeld 8-3 in the premier event (bonspiel final) last night. Kerry Burtnyk and Murray Woodward won the major events.

JUNIOR WATCH: Manitoba's Kaitlyn Lawes had a 2-1 record going into last night's late draw at the Canadian junior women's championship in Salmon Arm, B.C.

Lawes, the defending champ, fell 6-5 to Quebec late Sunday but rebounded with an 11-2 thumping of P.E.I. yesterday morning.

On the junior men's side, Manitoba's Sam Good was at 1-2 after a 10-3 setback against Quebec late Sunday and an 8-4 loss to P.E.I. yesterday morning.

Lawes and Good were both playing host B.C. last night.


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