Bawel earns shot at Alberta title

TODD SAELHOF, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

What's a pursuit of the provincial purple heart without Kevin Martin?

Well ... it's still a grind with super-curlers Kevin Koe and Randy Ferbey attending the big dance next month in Olds.

But the Alberta Boston Pizza Cup is a task that might be right in the wheel house of Brent Bawel and his Calgary Curling Club rink, especially after the winning fight they put up at southerns.

"We know the teams that are there, and we're ready to play," said Bawel, just moments after qualifying yesterday for a spot in the provincial final to determine Alberta's Brier representative.

"Sure, it's great to not have Martin there, but there's still lots of good teams, and we'll have to be playing better."

Perhaps right this moment, there's no hotter foursome in the province. This after Bawel, third Dan Petryk, second Sean O'Connor and lead Jason Lesmeister rolled off five straight victories, including yesterday's 9-7 win over Brooks' Scott Egger in the southerns C final, to punch their ticket to the provincials.

They lost the first two games of the southerns before finding their form at the North Hill Community Curling Club.

"I'm proud of my guys," said Petryk, the veteran of the rink and a former second under Martin. "I told them after we went 0-2, somebody always comes back from the depths of C, so why don't we give it a go. We've been playing well on the (World Curling) Tour, so I knew it was possible.

"We definitely battled."

Next up, however, is the war for Alberta's purple heart, a reward won three times previously by the 44-year-old Petryk, including in 1994 with Ed Lukowich on the last southern team to win the province.

But with a fresh bunch of faces -- after the foursome assembled this season -- it'll be a different team Petryk takes into the bid for the Brier. He calls it a young and enthusiastic crew, captained by a smart, strategic skip.

"Dan's been there, done it. It's a different era, now," said Bawel, 27. "But Dan's great. He keeps us in line. He's our veteran, keeps us calm -- you don't see us out there broom-slamming. He's our compass."

Now, the old warhorse leads them into a lion's den in Olds.

"Realistically speaking, we're all fighting to see who's going to play either Kevin Koe or Randy Ferbey in the provincial semifinal," Petryk said. "And if you can win that, can you do it again (in the final)?"

Martin won't be competing for the Alberta title in order to focus on the Olympics.

"Thank goodness, Kevin won't be there. I might just drive a car past his house to keep him away."

EXTRA ENDS

Joining Bawel as south reps at the 2010 Alberta Boston Pizza Cup in Olds, Feb. 3-7, is Red Deer's Rob Armitage and Adrian Bakker of the Calgary Curling Club after respective A- and B-final wins at southerns ... Nadine Chyz and her Alberta champs went 1-1 yesterday at the 2010 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors in Sorel-Tracy, Que. They lost the morning draw 8-2 to Newfoundland before beating New Brunswick 9-6 in the afternoon draw to improve to 3-2 in the round-robin standings at the national finals.

LAST ROCK

The Masters hit the ice at districts over the weekend at Huntington Hills Curling Club. Twenty-three men's rinks chased 16 tickets to the southerns, slated for the Ogden Legion Curling Club, Feb. 5-8. Winners included Harold Breckenridge (Inglewood) and Gil Schmaltz (North Hill).

TODD.SAELHOF@SUNMEDIA.CA


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