Brier requires a few more bums in the JLC seats

STEVE GREEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:58 PM ET

With the first rock of the Tim Hortons Brier a month away at the John Labatt Centre, pretty much everything is in place — except for some more spectators.

“It’s looks OK, and we’re happy with where we’re at if we can keep the momentum going, but if I were to say I had no concerns about ticket sales, I’d be lying,” host chair Peter Inch said Friday. “We’ve got to get more bums in the seats.”

Inch said he’s been waiting for a ticket report from the JLC since Jan. 15. He said a wild guess would be 100,000 sold.

Part of the reason for the delay, he said, may be the many different packages available.

“Having that many makes it complicated and once single tickets went on sale (last Saturday) the system may just have said, ‘I’ve had enough,’ ” he said, adding a positive note is $25,000 were sold last Saturday.

Inch has a couple theories why the event isn’t sold out yet.

“The economy has got to be No. 1, and No. 2 is we don’t have any teams to market yet. Everyone’s waiting to see who gets here. If (Kevin) Martin wins in Alberta, (Glenn) Howard wins in Ontario and (Jeff) Stoughton wins in Manitoba, then you’ll see tickets take off.”

Everything else, he said, is where it’s supposed to be at this stage. The 500 volunteers have been given tours of the JLC to familiarize themselves, the ice technicians are in place (led by Hans Wuthrich of Gimli, Man.) and the Paint the Town program of welcoming signage and shop-window decoration is underway.

“Nothing yet, but I keep touching wood when I say that,” Inch said when asked if anything unexpected has arisen. “Because a lot of it is the same committee from the (2006) Hearts, we’re ahead of it.

“I’m always nervous about this time. I’ll calm down when we take over the JLC a week before it starts . . . Seeing the 500 volunteers and their excitement at the (Jan. 23) rally really hit home. It told me we’ve got a good bunch. If we can just fill the JLC, it’ll be perfect.”

Kean for provincials

One name will be familiar to Woodstock area fans when Mark Kean makes his debut at the Ontario men’s championship Monday in Grimsby. His grandfather is Verne Kean, who chaired the 2001 provincials in Woodstock, played in seven Ontario finals and has been a longtime OCA official.

Now living and working in Hamilton, Innerkip native Mark, 22, hasn’t played in these parts for a while. He’s representing the Ajax Anandale club along with three Toronto-based players — Chris VanHuyse, Patrick Janssen and Tim March. He played at the BDO Classic Grand Slam event last week in Oshawa and while he went 0-5, he was buoyed by his team’s performance.

“We went to the last rock with Kevin Koe, the Brier and world champion; we were close with McEwen, just one bad end, and he won the thing; we took Wayne Middaugh to last rock, Jake Higgs to an extra end and Dale Matchett to last rock. Playing at the Grad Slam eased the nerves somewhat and told us that basically we can play with anybody.”

Kean plays Higgs, the Strathroy resident skipping a Harriston rink, and Matchett of Bradford in Grimsby, and five-time defending champion Glenn Howard of Coldwater, whom Kean beat in October at Toronto’s High Park club. In its first season, the squad has won $13,000 on the cashspiel circuit, but Kean realizes he’s not a favourite to make it to the Brier.

“The Grand Slam was the first time playing on arena ice, so we’re still adjusting to that. We’re there to win, but at the same time were going to soak it all in and hopefully this won’t be our only time there.”

Around the house

The Gore Mutual schoolboy and schoolgirl regionals are this weekend, with Zones 13-16 at Goderich Maitland. Among the boys are Nathan Gonsalves of Mother Teresa (third for champion David Eastern in 2010), Richard Krell of Central, Peter Mulders of St. Joe’s, Doug Kee of St. Christopher’s and Robbie Ingam of Ridgetown. The girls include 2010 OFSAA silver medallist Abby Weagant of Cetnral Elgin, Cassie Savage of Listowel, Kabrina Bishop of Madill, Christina Lambe of St. Pat’s and Carly Van Daele of Lambton Central. The top two in each advance to provincials Feb. 17-19 at Huntley . . . At the Ontario seniors at Huntley, Ruth Alexander and her Highland rink of Susan Bierbaum, Gayle George and Karen Webster went 2-5 on the women’s side, while Bob Stafford and his Chatham Granite team of Brian DeRooy, Kevin Daniel and Pete DeKoning went 3-4 on the men’s . . . Amie Shackleton of Ilderton won the B flight at the Best Western Women’s Challenge provincials at Picton and Stirling, while Bruce Cox of Listowel took the B flight at the Fairfield Marriott Men’s Challenge in Brighton and Trenton . . . Glenn Webster of Highland won the A side at the master’s men’s regionals at Dundas Granite to advance to provincials Feb. 15-19 at Granvehurst . . . Ashley McKnight of Exeter and Doug Kee of Sarnia qualified at Kingsville for the Ontario bantams March 2-5 at Tweed Land O’Lakes.

steve.green@sunmedia.ca


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