ARKILANDER: Impressive Feats for Local Curlers

By Bruce Heidman, Sudbury Star
Friday, January 15, 2016 3:06:34 EST PM

The remarkable season for Tanner Horgan and his team, with Jacob Horgan, Nicholas Bissonnette and Maxime Blais, continues.

This season’s men’s competition was open to any age, whereas before a male curler had to be 19 years of age to compete. The same applies for the women’s competition.

I am not certain of the reasoning behind this change but it gives bantam- and junior-aged curlers the opportunity to compete with their older peers.

In the case of Team Horgan, after they won the junior crown for the third year at Kakabeka Falls CC at Thunder Bay, they stayed for the Travelers West Qualifier at Port Arthur CC last weekend. The top three teams from this qualifier then advance to the Travelers Men’s Provincial at the North Bay Granite Club, to be contested Feb. 10-14. This junior championship team competed against seven men’s teams, including a number of past provincial champions.

During the round robin, Horgan ended up with a 3-3 record, tying him with two other teams for third place and the final spot to advance to the provincial championship. They played two tie-breakers last Sunday and won against a Sault team 6-4 and then defeated Bryan Burgess, the 2001 men’s champions, 8-4.

Accordingly they will compete in the Men’s championship against seven of the top Men’s teams in Northern Ontario. Prior to that Team Horgan will be curling in the Canadian Juniors Championships at Stratford, Jan. 23-31.

The Travelers East Qualifier, featuring eight teams, will be held at the Idylwylde on Jan. 21-24. Local teams include Jordan Chandler with Matt Dumontelle, Sandy MacEwan and Lee Toner. For the first time in years, Mike Jakubo Jr. will not be competing. Other local teams are Dustin Montpelier with Nick Beaudry, Shane Gordon, and Matt Gordon; Robbie Gordon, with Ron Henderson, Dion Dumontelle, and Doug Hong; and Pat Chartier with Rich Schmidt, Chris Jillings and Steve Garrett . The first three teams curl out of the Sudbury CC, while Chartier curls out of the Idylwylde.

One team I predict will be in the top three is the Horne Granite team of Ryan Sayer, Graehem Sayer, Jason Desilets and Ron Sayer. I coached Graehem one year in OCA juniors with my son, Paul, and watched Ryan and Graehem curl for the University of Waterloo at the OUA and CIS level. Ron Sayer is their father.

This is a highly skilled competitive field of curlers. The good news is that you can watch them curl without paying a fee except for having a few beers at the club.

On the Scotties championship side, the provincial is at the MacIntyre CC in Timmins on Jan. 20-24. There are only four teams competing who have paid the entry fee and advance directly to the championship. One of the top teams is Sudbury’s Tracy Fleury (nee Horgan), with Jennifer Horgan, Jenna Walsh (nee Enge), Amanda Gates, Crystal Webster and coach Andrea Ronnebeck. They curl out of the Idylwylde.

The other top team I recognize is Krista McCarville (nee Scharf), Kendra Lilly, Ashley Sippala (nee Miharija), Sara Potts (nee Lang), Oye-Sem Won Briand and coach Lorraine Lang. They curl out of the Fort William CC. Most have been junior champs as well as women’s champs in the past. The other two teams are Laura Payne from North Bay Granite Club and Gale Wiseman from MacIntyre CC.

The issue here is that none of our junior women’s team have entered the competition as in the case of Team Horgan, and we only have four teams competing for the right to represent Northern Ontario at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. In the case of juniors, my feeling is that school comes first. Otherwise, the fact that a number of our female curlers are working full time, have family commitments and lack sponsorship leads to the lack of teams. The good news is the ones who have made that commitment are among the best curlers in Canada.

Alan Arkilander’s Between the Sheets column appears every Saturday in The Sudbury Star.