Change has Balsdon back in hunt

JIM WALLACE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:55 PM ET

GRIMSBY -- A change in rink personnel has meant a return to The Dominion Tankard for Greg Balsdon.

With Balsdon, a former Ontario Colleges Athletic Association champion (1999) and Ontario high school winner (1994 and 1995) as skip, the foursome became much younger and possibly hungrier heading into the Ontario men's curling championship at the Peach King Centre this week.

Chris Ciasnocha, who skipped his own rink to a 3-7 record last year, is now the third for Balsdon, with Tyler Morgan coming over from the Jason Young rink to throw second stones. Leading off is Jamie Farnell, Ciasnocha's second from a year ago.

"One of the guys, Jason Boyce, just had his third child and Don Bowser was travelling 4 1/2 hours every weekend from Ottawa "¦ so we just decided to go our separate ways," Balsdon said. "It's a fresh start and new young blood on the team.

"I'm the old guy big-time," the 33-year-old added with a laugh.

The personnel move paid off early for Balsdon, who finished third in his last Tankard in 2006.

This time, he was the only undefeated rink (3-0) heading into Wednesday's games, but fell into a four-way tie for third place following the afternoon draw with his second loss of the day, 9-7 to five-time defending Ontario champion Glenn Howard of the Coldwater and District Curling Club.

"We're just not playing like we did (Tuesday)," Balsdon said. "We made more shots yesterday through the whole lineup.

"We were struggling a bit today with our draw weight."

Many in the curling community are calling Balsdon's team from the Loonie Curling Club one of the up and coming rinks in Ontario, but he pointed out at least two other teams in the same category.

"(Mark) Kean (Annandale Country Club) has a young team and John Epping (Donalda Curling Club) is basically the same age as us," he said. "But it is nice to see the younger guys getting in."

In other afternoon games Wednesday, Nick Rizzo of the Brantford Golf and Country Club beat Mark Kean of the Annandale Country Club 9-7; Epping downed Chris Gardner of the Renfrew Curling Club 9-7; Mark Bice of the Sarnia Golf and Curling Club beat Howard Rajala of the Rideau Curling Club 10-9 in 11 ends; and Peter Corner of the Brampton Curling Club slipped past Jake Higgs of the Harriston Curling Club 5-2.

In the morning draw: Bice 8, Higgs 7; Howard 7, Gardner 1; Kean 8,

Balsdon 5; Dale Matchett (Bradford and District Curling Club) 8, Rizzo 1; Rajala 10, Epping 5.

Balsdon regained his winning touch in the late draw, posting an 11-6 win over Epping in a game that lasted six ends. Howard continued his roll with a 10-4 win over Rizzo, Corner topped Rajala 11-8, Matchett was a 6-2 winner over Kean and Bice took an extra end to shade Gardner 10-9.

Howard is alone atop the standings with a 6-1 record with Corner at 5-1. Matchett, Bice and Balsdon all have 4-2 records to tie for third placd. Epping is 3-3, Gardner and Kean 3-4 and Rajala 2-5. Rizzo fell to 1-5 and Kean is winless at 0-6.

The Tankard continues with two draws each of Thursday and Friday, with Saturday reserved for tiebreakers and Page playoffs. The semifinal is Sunday morning with the championship game at 2 p.m.


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