Northern rinks don't like idea of reducing field

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

SELKIRK -- Don't blame the northerners if they are nervous about possible changes to future Safeway Championships.

Many have suggested that the field should be reduced from a 32-team format, especially in light of the fact that entries into both many zones and the MCA's annual men's bonspiel have decreased over the last few seasons.

"As a secondary team in Manitoba, this is very much our Brier," Thompson's Farrol Asham said shortly after dropping a 7-2 decision to Assiniboine Memorial's third-ranked Mike McEwen at the Selkirk Recreation Complex yesterday. "We're a good enough team where we can come here and give these teams a good enough game and upset them once in a while. If they change it, it would be pretty disappointing for teams like us that don't get a chance to play in this type of setting all the time.

"It's hard to say whether it would be a good move. Our team has brought 30 people from Thompson. So, for the host committee to profit from it, the more teams the better. You get bigger crowds and I think you keep the interest up in curling."

TRIPLE-KNOCKOUT

At Tuesday's team meeting, MCA reps told this week's competitors that they would be asked their opinions on the Safeway Championship format.

"I hope they don't change the 32-team format but maybe go to a triple-knockout," suggested Asham, who moved to Thompson from Portage la Prairie two years ago. "There's too many curlers from the north not to have a northern rep."

The MCA may also consider scrapping the zone system and adopting a format where each of the seven regions of the province will send a rep to the Manitoba playdowns. That is the one that will be adopted by the inaugural Dominion Club Championship, which will cater to such "secondary" curlers as Asham.

NO TIME: The timeclocks have become an issue once again. Competitors are wondering why they are being rushed for time between ends and Assiniboine Memorial skip Kerry Burtnyk brought it to the officials' attention after his game.

"I'm not sure where they came up with the number but they have this 30 seconds between ends and they start the clock before the last rocks are even kicked off," he said. "The guys who throw first are in a bit of a rush and as the week goes on, that could become a bit of a factor. We understand they want to keep the game going but we don't want to force guys to throw in a rush.

"So we're just asking them to start the clock a little later or maybe make it 45 seconds between ends so, it's not a factor in the game."

Burtnyk had the same problem in a game during last year's provincials and, in the end, the lack of time left cost his opponent, Brendan Taylor, the game.

BITER: The MCA officially confirmed that Steinbach will host next year's Safeway Championship Feb. 10-14, 2010, as the Sun first reported months ago.


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