THUNDER BAY – SPORTS – Gary Champagne and Kurtis Byrd will need to be up for the task Wednesday in what will be a first-place showdown between Al Hackner and Dylan Johnson in draw 11 of the Tbaytel Major League of Curling Wednesday night 6:30 pm at the Port Arthur Curling Club.
Hackner and Johnston sit in a three-way with Ben Mikkelsen tied for the top spot in the local Thunder Bay competitive league with 8-and-2 records.
With three draws to go in round-robin play, it looks like at least 10 wins will be needed to clinch first place.
Mikkelsen has no easy task in draw 10 as they face Mike McCarville out to improve on a 6-and-4 record to stay in the top seven of the 14-team standings.
The first-place finisher will earn a bye to championship semi-finals when the Tbaytel Major League hosts a one-day playoff event on Saturday, January 25 involving all 14-teams. The top seven teams after round-robin play will qualify for the championship side of the playoffs while the bottom seven teams will play for the consolation title.
Hackner and his rink of Joe Scharf, Jamie Childs and Gary Champagne have played with a lot of spares this year but have managed to post wins to stay in the hunt for first place. The rotation of spares continues with Jonah Dupuis subbing in for Jamie Childs this week in this key first-place showdown.
Hackner’s schedule to complete round-robin play includes games against Gary Weiss and Trevor Bonot, rinks currently in the top seven.
Johnston and his lineup of Chris Briand, Oye Sem Wong-Briand and Kurtis Byrd may have a tougher schedule to finish round-robin play. After Hackner this week, Johnston faces Mikkelsen to start the New Year with their final match against Frank Morissette, again teams in the top seven.
Mikkelsen and his teammates Greg Doran, Carter Morash and Devin Doran will need a strong finish if they want to take the top spot. Mikkelsen has a big game with McCarville this week, followed by Johnston before wrapping up against the surging Ron Rosengren.
Rosengren and his rink of Gary Maunala, Ken Sundell and Dave Sholz are riding a seven-game win streak when they face Krista McCarville in draw 10 this week. Rosengren is one of three teams tied for fourth place with 7-and-3 records but one win back of the front runners in the battle for first place.
Frank Morissette and Gary Weiss are the other two teams tied with Rosengren, Ironically, they face each other in a key showdown Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, McCarville and her rink of Jordan Potts, Ashely Sippala and Sarah Potts are in a must-win situation against Rosengren to have any hope to finish in the top seven. McCarville, Trevor Bonot and Scott Henderson are the teams chasing Mike McCarville for seventh place needing to get to at least seven wins.
Bonot with a 5-and-5 record draws the U21 squad of Jonathon Vellinga at 2-and-8 in draw 10, while Henderson takes on the U18 lineup of Matt Duizer, also at 2-and-8.
Rounding out the schedule for draw 10, Bryan Burgess will look to end a 10-game winless skid against Liane Fossum. Fossum and his mixed squad of Joel Adams, Lisa Doran and Jay Turner are shooting for only their third win in 11 starts.