“This one feels special,” said Manitoba’s Dennis Thiessen after leading his Winnipeg team to an 11-1 win over Alberta’s Jack Smart to claim the gold medal at the 14th Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship in Boucherville, Que.
Thiessen and two of his teammates from the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club — third Mark Wherrett and second Jamie Anseeuw — also won the 2014 championship. This season, Carolyn Lindner joined the team at lead, and they’re coached by Tom Clasper with assistant coach Tom Wherrett.
Thiessen also won a gold medal when playing second for Team Canada (skip Jim Armstrong) in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games at Sochi, Russia, played third for Armstrong when winning the 2013 World Wheelchair and was the third for Chris Sobkowicz when winning the 2011 Canadian title at Edmonton.
“This one feels even more special to me,” said Thiessen about winning a third Canadian championship title. “I couldn’t be more proud of my front end. (Lindner) just joined us, and she’s only been curling for four months and she played the lights out. She worked so hard, practicing five days a week to prepare for this. And the two guys who play in front of me, they just played really, really well. I’m so proud of them all.”
Manitoba started without hammer but stole the first two ends, setting the tone for the game.
“We placed our rocks in the first end exactly where we wanted and got (Alberta) to chase us,” said Thiessen about the strong start against Smart, who finished first in the standings after the round robin.
Smart and his team of third Bruno Yizek, second Martin Purvis, lead Ann Hibbert, alternate Wendy Frazier and coach Ernie Comerford managed to score a single in the third, but it was all Manitoba after that, with a steal of four in the sixth end putting the cap on an 11-4 win and the gold medal.
Quebec’s Benoit Lessard defeated Ontario’s Mike Munro in a tight 6-5 battle to claim the bronze medal. Lessard and his team of third Carl Marquis, second Johanne Mathieu, lead Christine Lavallée, alternate Claude Brunet and coach Germain Tremblay stole two ends to take a 5-2 lead after six.
But Munro and his Ilderton Curling Club foursome – third Tony Reynen, second Paul Grose, lead Shannon Wilcox, alternate Collinda Joseph and coach Chris Bowden – fought back with a score of three in the seventh to tie it up. A single by Lessard in the eighth was all it took for Quebec to clinch the bronze.
For Thiessen, the gold medal capped an “absolutely fantastic” week in Boucherville.
“The ice, the volunteers, the people here,” he said. “It was just unreal all week.”