Morning Star Staff
Before leaving for ice-making duties at the Continental Cup in Las Vegas, Dave Merklinger found 54 teams for the annual Vernon Men’s Bonspiel at the curling club.
Three-time Brier attendee Bob Ursel of Kelowna ended up taking the A event by stoning TJ Perepolkin of Vernon 6-5 Sunday.
Ursel had former Vernonite Dave Stephenson at third, Don Freschi at second and Kootenay veteran Fred Thomson lead.
“It was a great event,” said Stephenson. “We had to win six in a row to win it. The chemistry we have is amazing; we have fun on the ice and fun off the ice, really enjoy each other. We are going in the senior men’s playoffs starting this weekend in Enderby.
“Unfortunately on Monday I found out I have a torn meniscus in my left knee, so Gary Vandenberghe is joining the team as a fifth to play in my spot. I’m hoping to have a full recovery via physio over the next couple weeks.”
Ursel, who turns 51 in February, hopes to qualify for the provincial seniors, Feb. 15-21, in Richmond. The nationals go March 28-April 2 in Digby, N.S.
Regional seniors playdowns also take place in Grand Forks, Nanaimo and Abbotsford this weekend. There will be 16 teams in the provincials.
“Bob beat me in the 1984 Canadian junior final (in Winnipeg) when I played with Rob Houston,” said Stephenson. “So to move ahead 31 years and be playing seniors with Bob, one of my closest friends, is simply awesome.”
Ursel took the Manitoba junior in 1984 and then won the 1985 world juniors in Perth, Scotland.
Perepolkin, meanwhile, is a four-time B.C. junior champion who iced iced Darren Heath of Vernon 7-6 in the semifinals.
Heath took three in the first and Perepolkin drew through a tight hole right to the button for two to win in the eighth end with great sweeping from Daryl Sharpe and Paul Toovey.
Perepolkin also knocked off Gary Schawélek, Darrell Houston, Jamie Sexton and Mark Longworth.
“Ursel’s stacked rink proved too powerful in the final although we were tied through five ends,” said Perepolkin, who pocketed a TV off the prize table. “I’m super proud of the guys. We won this event three years ago and that year Sean Matile of Boston Pizza said if we won, we could have free pizza and beer.
“Three hundred bucks bucks later, we were shocked he offered the same deal again thinking what are the odds? Sigh of relief for him. Jay Johnson played third for the first time, and really stepped up and made a lot of clutch shots.
“It was a great event; 54 teams is huge these days. Everyone says it the best event and the Vernon Curling Club puts another great event in the books.”
Team Miller of Tsawwassen claimed the B event over Carl Hayes of Vernon, while Gary Gelowitz of Kelowna captured the C over Dave Poggemoeller of Vernon. The D event went to juvenile Matt Schiman of Vernon over senior Garry Marsh of Vernon.
“That was our biggest men’s bonspiel ever,” said Merklinger. “I hear everybody had a good time and the dance (featuring the Shawn Lightfood Band) was a blast.”
Merklinger is watching the ice at the World Financial Group Continental Cup at the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Vegas. The unique format pits Team North America against Team World in various disciplines during four days of competition — traditional team games, mixed doubles, mixed skins and standard skins games. The winners pocket $52,000.
Meanwhile, the three final berths for the Three 2016 Canadian Direct Insurance BC Men’s Curling Championship, Feb. 10-14, in Nelson, have been decided.
Jason Montgomery of Victoria won the A side at playdowns last weekend in Salmon Arm, while Glen Jackson of Victoria earned the B and Will House of Richmond grabbed the third berth.
Vernon’s Jim Cotter and Mark Longworth are among 16 teams in the provincials. Winner goes to the Tim Hortons Brier, March 5-13, in Ottawa.
The Brier champion advances to the world playdowns, April 2-10, in Basil, Switzerland.