Hodgson in the house

TODD SAELHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:29 AM ET

CALGARY - From rivals to friends to champions.

That's the road taken by Colin Hodgson and his Alberta junior curling kings.

But there's more in store for the Calgary crew on this path of glory in a last shot together as junior curlers.

How about a trip overseas?

"It's our goal to go to worlds (in Scotland) this year," said Hodgson, the 20-year-old skip of Alberta's newest provincial champs.

"But we've been trying all year to take it one step at a time. We're not looking too far in advance."

So far, so good.

Hodgson, third Michael Ng, second Parker Konschuh, lead Derek Clark and coach Stan Usselman took a major step toward world domination Sunday by winning the provincials in Edmonton.

After posting a 6-1 first-place roundrobin record, the North Hill/Calgary Curling Club rink blasted fellow Calgarian Scott Smith 8-2 in Sunday's final, wrapping up the title and pushing them onto the next stop.

That's the M&M Junior Nationals, Jan. 29-Feb. 6 in their own backyard -- at the North Hill and Glencoe clubs in Calgary.

" The day after winning something like provincials is always surreal," Hodgson said Monday. "And we know we're one step away from going to the worlds. But we are keeping it together for nationals."

Really, they've kept it together with a strong bond since the start of the season.

Once rivals in the junior ranks -- Hodgson was an Alberta champ in 2008 topping Ng at the provincials, and Ng and Clark returned the favour in 2009 by beating Hodgson in the final -- they became friends during competition and eventually struck up a plan to join forces in their last year of junior eligibility, which is now.

"We wanted to throw a team together that got along," Hodgson said. "The No.-1 reason for failure in junior curling is when guys don't get along.

"We're all pretty good friends. We're all outgoing and bring different things to the table. There's never a loss of conversation. There's never a dull moment.

"There's no negatives -- we're always talking positive. If one guy goes down that (negative) road, the other three of us and Stan try to stop it."

EXTRA END

Highwood Curling Club's Tanilla Doyle will join Calgarian Heather Rankin and Lethbridge's Casey Scheidegger at the Alberta Scotties. Her 9-3 upend of Nicole Blenkin in Monday's C final of the Ogden Legionhosted southerns pushed her to the provincials, Jan. 26-30 in Camrose. Doyle, third Lindsay Amundsen, second Christina Faulkner and lead Janice Bailey counted two in each of the second and third ends and sealed the victory over Blenkin with three in the eighth end. "We were sloppy at the beginning (dropping two to Blenkin the first end), so we decided to play offensively and get them off their game," said Doyle, 26. "And we got a break in the fourth end, when Blenkin missed her shot and we got one (to go up 5-2). We did really well." ... The lineup for the men's southerns is in place after seven rinks qualified for the second stage of the provincial playdowns from the districts over the weekend at the Bow Valley Curling Club in Indus. Terry Meek (Calgary Curling), Steve Petryk (Calgary Winter), Cam Culp (Airdrie), Trevor Funk (Medicine Hat), Steve Mackey (Garrison), Kent Knihnistki (Acadia Recreation Centre) and Jim Bush (Airdrie) won spots for the southerns, running Friday through Monday at the Garrison Curling Club. They'll vie for three provincial spots along with four pre-qualified rinks -- Brent Bawel (Calgary Curling), Scott Egger (Brooks), Dean Ross (Calgary Winter) and Brock Virtue (Calgary Curling) -- and five previous districts winners -- Josh Lambden (Airdrie/ Calgary Curling), Leon Moch (Medicine Hat), Tim Krassman (Medicine Hat), Mike Libbus (Oilfields) and Scott Cruikshank (Red Deer).

LAST ROCK

Calgary will be well represented at the 2011 World Financial Group Continental Cup, beginning Thursday at St. Albert's Servus Credit Union Place. Cheryl Bernard's rink and Kevin Martin's squad make up half of the four teams comprising Team North America, which takes on Team World in the seventh annual Ryder Cup-esque event.


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