BARRIE, ONT. - The Dominion Tankard will be sliding into Barrie in 2013.
Considered one of the major curling events in the province, the Barrie Curling Club beat out several other cities in Ontario for the bragging rights of hosting the Ontario Men's Curling Championship in February 2013.
"I'm ecstatic," said Glenn Howard, the Midland native national and international championship skip. "This is fantastic news for Barrie. I've lived in Simcoe County my entire life, and I've always thought Barrie would be a great town for a curling event of this calibre."
Howard, who's swept major tournaments from Japan to Scotland, will be using the 2013 event in Barrie as a launching pad for his team's 2014 Sochi, Russia Olympic bid.
"I came within a whisker of playing for Canada in (the) Vancouver (Olympics), so yes, Barrie's Tankard will be a very important event for us," he said.
Monday morning's announcement by Ontario Curling Association executive director Doug Bakes at the Barrie Molson Centre (BMC) was greeted by cheers by Barrie Curling Club chairman of the Dominion Tankard host committee, Ken Leach, and Mayor Jeff Lehman.
"This is the first men's provincial that Barrie has ever hosted, and we are confident we will put on one of the biggest and best events we have ever seen in Ontario," said Leach.
With more than 140 teams from across Ontario vying for the 10 spots available in each championship -Ė the 11th team playing is the previous year's winner Ė- the provincial bonspiel is expected to bring thousands of people into the Barrie area.
"It not only raises awareness of curling for the Barrie Curling Club, but for all curling clubs," said Leach. "We'll draw from Orillia, North Bay and the GTA. It provides an exciting event for the city of Barrie as well as an economic boost."
Leach said the city that wins the bid for the provincial championship usually has about 24 months to organize.
As Barrie's club only has 15 months before they host the province's top curlers, Leach said he'll be looking for about 200 to 300 volunteers in the near future.
Lehman, a former curler, congratulated the local club on their successful bid.
"And by then, we'll probably have the roads done outside," he joked, motioning to construction that has tied up traffic on Mapleview Drive and Bayview Avenue for the past few years.
The 2012 Dominion Tankard is being held in Stratford beginning Feb. 6 and running until Feb. 12.
Sweeping into town with Howard will be his Coldwater rink, including Brent Laing, Craig Savill and Wayne Middaugh.
Howard won the national Brier Tankard three times, in 1987, 1993 and 2007 and was a finalist in 1986, 1992, 1994, 2006, 2008 and 2010. He's been on three world championship rinks, in 1987, 2003 and 2007.
Barrie police officer Dave Goodbrand is editing a documentary he filmed of Howard's team on and off the rink and expects it to be completed in 2012, just in time for Barrie's Dominion Tankard.
Middaugh, 44, who won his own Brier trophy in 1998, re-joined Howard's rink in 2010 Canada Cup of Curling in Medicine Hat, where they lost in the final to Alberta's Kevin Koe.
"We played in a skins game here about 10 years ago," Middaugh said, Monday afternoon after the Tankard announcement. "I wish Barrie would have had something sooner.
"We both figure we're getting older and we're going to retire soon. This (2013 Tankard) might be our last chance at the Olympics."