North Bay Nugget: Thursday, February 11, 2016 12:31:45 EST PM
The Patrick Gelinas team out of the Voyageur Curling Club in Mattawa opened the Northern Ontario 2016 Traveler’s Men’s Curling Championship with a 7-2 win over the Colin Koivula rink from Thunder Bay.
Koivula earned his berth to the provincials by accumulating the second most Canadian Team Ranking System points and is considered to be a favourite to go deep in this event. The skipper himself represented Northern Ontario at the 2014 Brier playing second for Jeff Currie.
The competition is tight, however, to represent this region at the 2016 Tim Hortons Brier in Ottawa next month with Canadian Olympic gold medal winners Team Brad Jacobs in battle mode to win Northern Ontario honours
The Sault Ste. Marie foursome of Jacobs, third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden lost in the Brier final last year.
Jacobs opened with an 8-4 win over the recently crowned Canadian junior silver medalists, Team Tanner Horgan of Copper Cliff; while Mike Assad’s Geraldton rink squeaked out a win against Team Robbie Gordon of Sudbury 9-6; and Jordan Chandler of Sudbury dominated another playoff favourite, Fort William’s Dylan Johnston, 10-4.
An opening ceremony was held before the second draw. North Bay Sports Hall of Famer Jack Lockhart, who represented Northern Ontario twice in national senior championships, threw the ceremonial first rock while Kate Sherry, who has played in four bantam and two junior provincials, represented young competitors with seven-year-old Matthew Hamilton. Granite Club manager Bobby Ray greeted them as Lockhart’s rock fell just short of the button. Combined they represented four generations that provide a foundation for the sport.
Gelinas’ luck ran out shortly afterward, however, matched against the experienced Jacobs crew. A three-rock count in the second end gave Jacobs a two-point lead they never surrendered, finishing with an 8-6 victory.
Chandler went 2-0 using the hammer in the tenth to beat Gordon 6-4 and Assad captured two in the final end to steal an 8-7 victory over Johnston, who scored three in the ninth.
Bouncing back from their loss to Gelinas in the first draw, Koivula beat Horgan 5-4 by scoring one rock in five different ends, including the final when his opponent had the hammer.
Single-game seats are still for sale, call 705-472-6740 before you arrive. Draw 3 today is at 2 p.m. (changed from 1 p.m.) with Jacobs taking on Johnston, Gelinas plays Chandler, Horgan takes on Assad and Koivula plays Gordon.
Draw 4 is at 7:30 p.m. with Gelinas matched against Assad, Jacobs plays Gordon, Koivula vs Johnston and Horgan takes on Chandler.
Already qualified for the Brier, Newfoundland and Labrador will send Brad Gushue, Quebec will send Jean-Michel Menard and Ontario will send Glenn Howard. Saskatchewan is sending skip Steve Laycock and New Brunswick skip Mike Kennedy.
Manitoba, Alberta, Northern Ontario and British Columbia provincials all began Wednesday.