by Dean Gemmell
ST. JOHN’S – The second draw of the day is underway, and the usual Friday morning gaggle of school kids provides a constant backdrop of chatter in the arena.
I think it’s safe to say that a few players are suffering from the malady known as The Banquet Effect. This might have been a good morning for an Old Time Curling Challenge – force everyone to sweep with corn while they smoke cigars and try to shake out the cobwebs. Team Kevin Koe, in their vintage Hec Gervais gear, would look the part.
In an “A” Qualifier on Sheet A, K-Mart and crew just seem to keep rolling along. After forcing Koe to one in the first, they score three in the second. They force again in three and then score two in four. All this despite the fact John Morris told me he’s been battling a ferocious bout of food poisoning. One has to wonder how well John will play when he’s 100 per cent healthy again.
Howard and Simmons are on Sheet B in the other “A” Qualifier, the game featured on cbcsports.ca. Howard seems to be at full throttle and in complete control after grabbing four in three. Not much else to report there other than the fact that Craig Savill is wearing a ball cap. Perhaps the glare is a bit wicked this morning.
Sheet C is vacant, save for some diligent women currently practicing. On that note, here’s a photo of Chery Bernard (by Anil Mungal, courtesy Insight Sports). We’re talking about men a lot, so here’s a femme pic. Cheryl, incidentally, is through to the women’s playoffs.
Greg McAulay, named Comeback Player of the Year at last night’s awards banquet, is in a “B” battle with Winnipeg’s young Mike McEwen outfit on Sheet D. Knotted at three after four.
In another “B” bout on Sheet E, Team Wayne Middaugh, with recent addition John Epping in the lineup, is playing Kerry Burtnyk. I’m curious to see how the great young shooter Epping will fit with this veteran rink. While I didn’t see a lot of him playing with Mike Harris this year, it didn’t seem to work too well in the little bit I did catch. I think he’ll be better with this squad because I don’t think he’ll be as quick to weigh in on shot selection.
Hmm. Just as I write that, he makes a runback triple.
Despite winning that trip to the Brier this year, Team Burtnyk looks to be in a serious funk. Actually, that trip to the Brier probably didn’t help. One wonders if Rich, Dan and Kerry might not wish they could climb into the Time Machine and go back the start of 2006-2007, when they won five Asham World Curling Tour events in a row. The value of The Doctor and his headband collection may be have been underestimated.
On that note, Rob Meakin, as reported elsewhere, is back in the Burtnyk lineup. He still looks young when he throws the rock. Not so much when he sweeps. He’s holding the broom on Kerry’s shots and that appears to be wise. That might be something we’ll probably see more of in the future. An older player doesn’t have to bring the heat at lead that a second or third has to be able to provide. And it only makes sense to have a younger guy sweeping skip rocks. We saw Team Pat Simmons move Gerry Adam into the rings for Pat’s shots this year. While Gerry always seems to post good numbers and I’ve never seen Steve Laycock throw the high hard one, I would consider moving the younger guy to second... if I was Team Manager.
Finally, since I’m right over Sheet E, I’m seeing a lot of Middaugh third Jon Mead. When he throws the heat, I don’t think there’s a delivery that looks cooler...