Grand finish for Hamblin

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

While the pressure might have been absent, the thrill of victory remained the same.

In the feature game of the 122nd MCA bonspiel last night, David Hamblin defeated David Kraichy of Pembina 6-5 at the Heather Curling Club to capture the Sport Manitoba (formerly the grand aggregate) Title.

"We thought it was pretty good to win it once, to win it twice is pretty special," said Hamblin, who also captured the grand aggregate crown in 2004.

Hamblin was the first rink to secure his berth from the bonspiel, nailing it down on Sunday afternoon and believes going into the Safeway Championship on a high note should give his Morris rink a boost.

"We don't have a lot of time between now and then so it's good to keep it going," said Hamblin, whose rink finished the five-day event 9-0. "We feel pretty good right now."

Three other berths were determined earlier yesterday as Kevin Larson of Springfield, Andrew Irving of the Heather and Doug Riach of West Kildonan punched their tickets to the 2010 Safeway Championship from Feb. 10 to 14 at T. G. Smith Arena.

"We got the carrot that we wanted," said Larson. "We don't play a lot of competitive curling anymore, none of us do. We have two club teams that we joined together."

Larson, who is supported by third Garth Light, second Greg Scott and lead Joerge Arnold, lost in the final of his zone to Jason Gunnlaugson of Beasejour and is thrilled to have a shot in the provincials.

"We're not used to playing on that kind of ice, but we'll see what we can do," said Larson, who is making his third trip to provincials and first time since 2006. "Hopefully, we can raise a few eyebrows."

Larson lost 8-2 to Randy Dutiaume of West Kildonan in one of the main event finals. Mark Olson of The Granite defeated Derek Dowsett of Stonewall 7-3 to win the other main event.

Irving actually lost his semifinal game 7-4 to Dowsett but he was looking at the silver lining.

"You know what, that's what curlers in Manitoba play for," said Irving, who won the Manitoba junior men's crown in 2007. "It's really satisfying. (The MCA) is the toughest road, but it's a road."

Irving is supported by Ryan Hlatkey, Bobby Robidoux and Ryan Schwab and is back skipping this season after playing second for Chris Galbraith last year.

When Galbraith decided to play with Reid Carruthers, Irving reunited with his crew at the Heather and has enjoyed being back at skip.

Irving and company are setting realistic goals for their first provincial men's shot.

"These are the best teams in Manitoba and we're a fairly new team, we'll try to win some games obviously and try to qualify for the championship round and see where it goes from there," said Irving. "Historically, a lot of teams who get their spots from the MCA do well because they're on a bit of a roll."

The final berth up for grabs had still not been determined at press time as Jim Kirkness of Fort Rouge was taking on Rob Fleming of Morden.

In the early tie-breaker, Kirkness defeated Steven Pauls 8-5, while Fleming defeated Dave Johnson 8-6 in an extra end.

ken.wiebe@sunmedia.ca


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