Grassie on the money

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:16 PM ET

Mike McEwen’s early-season success of late has been almost completely overshadowed by a rink that’s rapidly becoming Manitoba’s latest Big 3.

While McEwen has enjoyed phenomenal success on the World Curling Tour ice this year, the Deer Lodge’s Sean Grassie has stuck closer to home. But what his new team has accomplished on the local scene is to be envied by squads that cannot afford the time or money to tour beyond our provincial borders.

Grassie has actually qualified in seven of the eight cashspiels he has entered. Not only that, but his foursome won the first three straight Manitoba Curling Tour events — Warren, Selkirk and the Thanksgiving spiel at the Thistle Curling Club.

His peers have taken note, installing Grassie as the No. 4 seed in the Canada Safeway men’s city zone playdowns that will be played at various clubs this week.

“That is the highest I have ever been seeded,” Grassie said, acknowledging the respect his rink has earned. “That feels good, for sure.”

Pembina’s Peter Nicholls, Fort Garry’s Vic Peters and Assiniboine Memorial’s David Bohn are ranked ahead of Grassie. Although none of them had won a single cashspiel before last weekend, Grassie had no qualms about being fourth.

It usually takes a new foursome a while to sort themselves out. Not Grassie’s. With Corey Chambers now at third and Stu Shiells added at lead, it exploded out of the proverbial hack.

“We just got things kind of rolling right away,” said Grassie, who still has Scott McCamis at second. “The team’s pretty compatible and the chemistry’s been good. We also won a lot of close games this year and when you’re winning, the confidence gets better.”

Grassie, of course, won the national Mixed title a couple of years ago. That was the first time a Manitoba team had turned the trick since Jeff Stoughton won his second of two back in 1991. Stoughton, of course, went on to have even greater success in the men’s and Grassie would love to have even a small taste of that.

West Kildonan’s Brendan Taylor, Thistle’s Randy Dutiaume and Granite’s Bob Sigurdson round out the top seven seeds.

SCRAMBLE: Curl Manitoba had scrambled to re-adjust the zone schedule after Willie Lyburn, who is now playing out of Deer Lodge, won the Brandon Berth Bonspiel on Sunday … With the loss of Lyburn, the city zones are down to 47 teams from 50 the past two years. Plans are to introduce a regional setup like the juniors possibly as soon as next year, said Curl Manitoba executive director Shane Ray … Rumour has it that Beausejour’s Jason Gunnlaugson has added Bryce McEwen at lead.

SLAM ON TAP: Two of those Big 3 — Stoughton and McEwen — will compete in a Grand Slam event in Vernon, B.C. this weekend. But it looks like Brandon’s Rob Fowler, soon to be the third of the Big 3, will stay at home presumably to compete in the rural zones. TSN will televise some Slam playoff matches this weekend.

BITERS: Springfield’s Nicholas Joyal and Ashley Lagimodiere of The Pas qualified for the junior provincial championships late Sunday … The last four qualifiers (two junior men, two junior women) will be determined at the Christmas Junior Bonspiel, Dec. 27-30 … The final of the MCT’s Thistle Integrity Stakes was being played late Monday with $2,000 to the winner.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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