Morning Star Staff
Craig Brown won the game that mattered.
After losing 7-1 to John Morris’ Vernon-Kelowna rink in the final preliminary roundgame at the Ed Werenich Golden Wrench Curling Classic in Tempe, AZ., Brown met Morris again in a tiebreaker to advance to the event’s quarterfinals.
Brown, from Blaine, Minn., stole single points in the fourth and fifth ends of the six-end tiebreaker to post a 2-0 win over Morris, eliminating the B.C. rink.
Morris, backed by Jim Cotter of Vernon throwing skip stones, and the front end of Tyrel Griffith and Rick Sawatsky, went 2-3 in Arizona.
After dropping their first two games Friday, Morris and company picked things up Saturday, hammering Darryl Horsman of Tempe 12-0 before scoring the 7-1 win over Brown, who lost 6-5 to Adam Casey of Regina in the quarters.
Casey – who beat Morris 7-1 in the round robin – fell 6-1 to Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen in the championship of the $16,000 US event.
While they struggled on the ice, the Morris crew had a blast on the grass.
“We went to Top Golf a couple of times; we need one in the Okanagan,” beamed Cotter. “It’s like a big driving range where you chip into the holes and get points. There are a lot of different competitive games and it’s so much fun. They bring you food and drinks. Tyrel’s a golf pro so he was winning a lot. We had to give him a handicap after the first game.”
Morris’ rink will now gear up for the belairdirect B.C. Men’s Curling Championship, presented by Fountain Tire, at the Abbotsford Curling Club Feb. 8 to 12 for the right to represent the province at the Tim Hortons Brier March 4-12 in St. John’s, NL.
Morris will be shooting for a fifth straight appearance at the Brier, while Cotter, Griffith and Sawatsky will beseeking a fourth straight trip to the national final.
“We’re planning on having a training camp in Vernon a couple days before the provincials,” said Cotter. “We’ll all be practising on our own as well. I like to go out and throw a lot of rocks.
They are one of 12 teams that will play a modified triple knockout with a four-team page playoff.
Vernon’s Mark Longworth, backed by his son Michael at third, and the front end of Aaron Herrick and JohnSlattery, will also compete in the Fraser Valley.
Rounding out the field are former Vernon junior curler Tom Buchy of Kimberley, reigning B.C. Junior Men’s champion Tyler Tardi of Langley/New Westminster, Andrew Bilesky and Jeff Guignard of New West, Mike Moss of Richmond, Dean Joanisse from Maple Ridge, Ken McArdle of Port Coquitlam/Victoria, Kelowna’s Sean Geall and Victoria rinks skipped by Wes Craig and Glen Jackson.