Brier Bound: The Road to the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier in London – Central Region

Ontario, Northern Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba have all had their share of Brier success stories over the years, and curling fans from central Canada are hoping that another championship chapter may be written at the conclusion of the 2011 shootout. Since 1927, these four jurisdictions have captured over half of the championships contested. The province of Manitoba has claimed the title a whopping twenty-six times; Ontario has claimed nine Brier victories, while Northern Ontario has captured four crowns and Quebec has won twice. Today, we’ll examine how curlers from these parts will win their way to a Brier berth.
Central Region:
The Dominion Men’s Tankard will determine Ontario’s representative for the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier when it is held at the Grimsby Peach King Centre from February 7-13. Eleven teams will compete in a round-robin leading up to a four team page playoff format. Playdowns started throughout the province in mid-December when sixteen zone competitions each produced two winning teams. These 32 teams were divided up geographically across four regions and from the resulting competition came eight provincial finalists. Two more teams will survive Challenge Round play when those events take place at the Oshawa Curling Club and the Shelburne Curling Club from January 21-24. The eleventh spot in the provincial finals shootout is reserved for the previous year’s Ontario championship rink. This year that spot belongs to Glenn Howard and his running mates Richard Hart, Brent Laing and Craig Savill. Peter Corner, Greg Balsdon and Mark Bice have all led their teams through zone and regional play and should be heard from in Grimsby.

Team Ontario at the Brier

Northern Ontario
Way back in mid-November, the Mike Pozihun rink out of the Port Arthur Curling Club earned the right to compete in the 2011 Dominion Northern Ontario Curling Championships when they captured the Courtesy Freight Superspiel at their home club. In December, Fort William’s Bryan Burgess stamped his ticket with a win at the Soo Curler’s Kia Classic Superspiel. Six more teams will be named to the finals when regional play concludes on January 16. The final four rinks will come out of last chance East and West Qualifiers to be hosted by the Soo Curlers and the Atikokan Curling Club over the weekend of January 28-30. The twelve teams involved will make their way to the Fort William Curling Club where they will play a round-robin, in advance of a four rink page playoff from February 6-13.

Team Northern Ontario at the Brier

Four of the ten teams which will compete in the Quebec provincial curling finals have already been named. The reigning Team Quebec foursome skipped by Serge Reid, the Circuit Provincial champion team led by Jean Sebastien Roy, and Quebec points qualifiers Jean-Michel Menard and Martin Ferland will all be in the house at Gatineau’s Buckingham Curling Club from January 30 through February 6. Six more teams will earn the trip through regional and zone playdowns. The teams will play a complete round-robin followed by a four team page playoff structure. The winning team should prove to be worthy champions and ready for the Forest City fray at London’s 2011 Tim Hortons Brier.

Team Quebec at the Brier

The Beausejour Sun Gro Centre will host the province’s top 32 men’s teams when play gets underway in the Safeway Manitoba Curling Championship from February 9-13. Twenty-one of the rinks are determined through zone competition, while eleven spots are available though floating berths, tour points leadership, MCA Bonspiel berths and in recognition of being either the reigning provincial or curling tour champ. At this time we know that Assiniboine’s Mike McEwen, Charleswood’s Jeff Stoughton, Deer Lodge’s Bill Lyburn and Dauphin’s Greg Todoruk are in. The 32 teams involved will take part in a modified double knock out leading to eight teams advancing to a semi-modified double knock out which will in turn, result in four teams earning the right to compete in the Safeway Four Championship page playoff. Needless to say, there will be a lot of very high calibre curling involved and we’ll keep you posted.

Team Manitoba at the Brier