Ont. provincials worth drive to Napanee

JOE PAVIA, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 7:59 PM ET

It’s a short drive that’s worth the trip.

The Ontario men's championship (known as the Tankard) takes place in Napanee Feb. 1-7 at the Strathcona Paper Centre, a venue opened in 2004. The event hasn’t been this close to the Ottawa region since the City View Curling Club hosted the event in 2000 at the Nepean Sportsplex.

This also marks the first year that the defending champion — in this case, Glenn Howard — gets an automatic entry. Unlike previous years, 11 rinks, not 10, will compete to represent the province at the Brier in Halifax in March.

Four other Tankard entries have also been determined. Joe Frans, a two-time provincial champ, returns. Peter Corner, last year’s runner-up, is back. Also appearing are Rob Lobel and Mark Bice, who recently competed for the national mixed title.

The last two of four regional playdowns take place this weekend. Region 1 takes place in Belleville, where Greg Balsdon and Bryan Cochrane are favourites to emerge. In Region 4, Kirk Ziola and Heath McCormick will likely earn berths. Two more squads will be decided by two Challenge Rounds that begin Jan. 15, with one in Ottawa at the RCMP Club.

The Tankard operates under the same format as a national competition, with round-robin play followed by playoffs. It is a great social event, and daily live entertainment adds to the festive mood.

Organizers have ticket packages at various prices — week-long, weekend and day packages are available. Go to 2010tankard.com for information.

OCA Results

In Bantam zones, those advancing to regionals are: 1A — Dan Lillico and Alexandra Polak; B — Ben Savage; 2A — Devan Barr and Kimberly Gannon; B — Zachary Steele and Morgan Steele. Zone 3 and 4 playdowns are this weekend.

Banking on Olympic trip

The U.S. men’s Olympic curling squad’s fifth player, Chris Plys, appear on a reality show called Bank of Hollywood last week in an effort to win enough money to take his parents to the Vancouver Games. His father recently battled brain cancer, and he hoped the trip would be a welcome diversion. Well, Plys’ parents will indeed be heading to Vancouver — their son won $6,500 US on the show.

Capital idea

The Capital One Grand Slam of Curling’s The National begins Wednesday in Guelph. Eighteen men’s rinks — including the top Canadian teams as well as the Scottish and U.S. Olympic squads — square off in the $100,000 event. CBC has the quarter-finals Saturday at 3 p.m., while the semi-finals air at 7 p.m. on CBC Bold. The final will be on the full network Sunday at 1 p.m.

Curling this week

The junior provincial finals are Wednesday, with local rinks skipped by Rachel Homan and Matt Cam in the running.


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