It was a positive indicator of the growth of 2-person stick curling that the semi-finals of the first Red River Valley Stick Spiel in Morris (November 11-13) featured a pair of experienced and very successful Manitoba 2-person stick teams and a pair of relative newcomer teams on the 2-person stick on spiel scene.
In the end, it was the more experienced St. Vital teams of Ken & Shirley Strand and Warren Johnson-Dan McDonald who advanced to the final while Chris & Lorne Hamblin (Morris) and Greg & Mike Harding (Springfield) faced off in the third place game.
The final game went to Johnson-McDonald, who defeated Strand-Strand by a 6-4 score. The third place game was tied 1-1 coming home and finished 2-1 when Hamblin’s last rock got to the face of the shot stone on the button but did not move it.
The semi-finals saw Strand-Strand defeat Hamblin-Hamblin 4-3 while Johnson-McDonald were 9-2 winners over Harding-Harding.
In their quarterfinal games, the results were Johnson-McDonald (8-2 over Herb Sulkers & Harold Peterson, East St. Paul); Harding-Harding (6-3 over Tom & Rae Campbell, Killarney); Hamblin-Hamblin (4-2 over Cam & Lynn McMillan, Fort Rouge); and Strand-Strand (extra end 7-6 over Norm Magnusson & Resby Coutts, Fort Rouge).
From a total prize pool of over $1500, the champions earned a prize payoff of $400 plus an entry in the Manitoba Open Stick Championship (to be played in Morris in February) while $300 went to the finalists.
Twenty-one teams (11 men’s teams, 8 mixed teams, and 2 women’s teams), including one visiting team from Saskatchewan, were featured in the first Red River Valley Stick Spiel. Manitoba clubs represented included Assiniboine Memorial, Carman, East St. Paul, Fort Rouge, Killarney, Marquette, Morris, Springfield, Stonewall, Warren.
Along with the visiting team of Darrel and Darren Beach from Regina, the event was thrilled to host the Wheelchair Curling team of Canadian team member Jamie Anseeuw and Mark Wherrett.
Also strengthening the field were three Canadian Champion teams including the current Canadian champions Fort Rouge curlers Norm Magnusson & Resby Coutts, Killarney’s Tom & Rae Campbell (2018), and Jim Rouse & Ross McMillan from Warren-Marquette (2015).
Contributed by Resby Coutts