Frans used to fighting adversity

MIKE KOREEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

NAPANEE -- The buzz around the Strathcona Paper Club suggests Joe Frans is a dark horse at the Ontario men's curling championship.

If not for two heartbreaking losses, the Grimsby native would be elevated to top contender status.

Making his second appearance as a skip at the provincials, Frans and his rink from Thornhill Golf & Country Club sit at 4-3, but easily could be 6-1.

The second gut-wrenching loss for Frans came Wednesday afternoon when he missed two double takeout attempts in the 10th, giving up three to lose 7-6 against Bryan Cochrane of Ottawa.

"Things are good, we've just got to quit making big mistakes," Frans said. "I'm not really happy. It's a couple shots here and there, that's all it is. That's the difference."

No one knows that better than Frans.

On Tuesday afternoon, Frans led 7-3 heading into the ninth end against Kirk Ziola. But Ziola scored three in the ninth, stole one in No. 10 to tie it and then stole another one in the extra end for an improbable win.

Because of those two losses, Frans' margin for error is slim as he attempts to finish in the top four for a playoff spot at the 11-team event. He figures four losses will be the maximum to reach the playoffs and Frans still has a contest with four-time reigning champion Glenn Howard on Thursday night.

"Our backs are against the wall," Frans said.

Frans did bounce back Wednesday night, pasting Christopher Ciasnocha of Trenton 8-1 in a match that lasted just five ends.

Meanwhile, in a battle of undefeated teams, Howard beat Cochrane 8-3 to improve to 7-0. Cochrane and Peter Corner of Brampton are tied for second at 5-1, while Frans and Robert Rumfeldt of Guelph are tied for fourth at 4-3.

Frans knows a thing or two about adversity. He tested positive for cocaine after playing second for Wayne Middaugh at the 2005 Tim Hortons Brier, resulting in a two-year suspension from the sport.

Frans, who does not talk publicly about the suspension, wrote in his reply to the Canadian Centre For Ethics in Sport that he had some drinks at the event but did not do drugs.

Whatever the case, Frans, who also went to the Brier as third for John Morris in 2002, returned to competitive action as a skip following the suspension.

He had little success until last year when Frans finished third at the provincials in Woodstock. The highlight of that week was sending Howard to his only loss of the round-robin.


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