SUN Hockey Pool

Pilot fans Flames

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

A lifelong Calgary Flames fan, Codey McCurrach would have liked to watch last night's NHL Entry Draft.

But he had to go to work.

After a flurry of trades, his Flames were picking 25th overall and GM Darryl Sutter headed to the podium about the same time McCurrach piloted his chuckwagon onto the High River track on Night 2 of the North American Chuckwagon Championship.

"I probably won't be able to watch it, but I'll be interested in reading the paper tomorrow," said McCurrach, the 2007 WPCA rookie of the year.

"I'm originally from B.C., but I had uncles and cousins from Calgary. They sent me hats and shirts in the mail and turned me into a Flames fan when I was a kid.

"I remember (former Flame) Eddie Beers and all the old boys. I went to a game with my uncle, and when Eddie Beers, scored they had a big, foaming mug of beer on the Saddledome scoreclock.

"That's my first memory of a Flames game."

McCurrach was quite a hockey player in his own right. He played for the Notre Dame Hounds and the Cranbrook Colts of the BCHL before turning his attention to wagon racing.

He finished in 19th spot during his freshman season and has his sights set on climbing up the ladder.

"We exceeded our expectations last year although, midway through the year, we realized what we could do, so our goals increased.

"We were one spot out of qualifying for Calgary. That was a disappointment but it just made us more keen for this year. We're right on the doorstep."

And if the 33-year-old keeps up his current pace, he should have no trouble qualifying for next year's Rangeland Derby.

McCurrach (Alberta Pressure Testing) stopped the clock last night in 1:20.11, but a late outrider tacked on an additional second.

He went into last night's races sitting in 17th spot in the world standings.

Rae Croteau Jr. (BJC Lift Systems) took top spot last night with a 1:17.70, followed by Tyler Helmig (Marauders Chuckwagon Group; 1:17.71) and Rick Fraser (Advantage Oilfield Group Ltd.; 1:17.91).

The Eckville driver said he picked up a few pointers here and there during his first year on the circuit but didn't make any major changes to his spring training regimen.

"We didn't change a whole bunch," he said. "I always keep my eyes open and look to see what other guys are doing.

"But we don't want to lose the basics. We know what got us here."

McCurrach added six more horses to his barn over the winter and is regularly using two rookies.

"We've got three good hooks going that can compete on a nightly basis," he said.

Looking for some additional starting power last night, he hooked one of his newbies, a left leader named Willy, who made his second career trip last night.

Every driver wants the rail, but being hooked with three speedy drivers allows McCurrach to follow in behind and still post a respectable time.

ON THE AIR

Catch Night 3 of the North American Chuckwagon Champioinship tonight (8 p.m., AM910, www.wpca.com). The meet wraps up tomorrow afternoon with the winner decided on four nights of aggregate time.

Rae Croteau Jr. leads the aggregate standings at 2:35.00. High River's Jason Glass (Shaw GMC Pontiac Buick Hummer; 2:35.55) and Buddy Bensmiller (Affordable RV; 2:36.16) round out the top three.


Videos

Photos