As provincial and territorial qualifying events take place across the country, leading up to the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier, we’re keeping you up-to-date on all the latest developments. Here’s the news from Ontario.
The field for the 2011 Ontario Men’s Curling Championship is now complete after Dominion Tankard East and West Challenge Round play concluded over the weekend of January 21-24. Jake Higgs and his Harriston Curling Club rink of Brent Ross, Andrew Clayton and Bill Buchanan punched their ticket to Grimsby’s Peach King Centre with an undefeated record in the West Challenge Round at the Shelburne Curling Club. Higgs is a two-time Ontario Mixed champion with five previous appearances at the men’s provincial shootout.
In Dominion Tankard Challenge Round East play at the Oshawa Curling Club, Howard Rajala and his Ottawa Rideau team of J.P. Lachance, Jeff Henderson and Craig Cordiner survived unscathed and will also compete in Grimsby February 7-13. Rajala upended two-time World Champ Wayne Middaugh twice en route to the weekend’s victory. Now he’ll have to contend with three-time World Champ Glenn Howard who receives a berth to the provincial final as the reigning Ontario champion.
The rest of the teams – determined by zone and regional play – feature Brampton’s Peter Corner, Sarnia’s Mark Bice, Bradford’s Dale Matchett, Annandale’s Mark Kean, Brantford’s Nick Rizzo, Donalda’s John Epping, Renfrew’s Chris Gardner and Greg Balson of the Loonie Curling Club. Four teams will progress through round robin play to compete in a page playoff system to decide Ontario’s representatives at the Tim Hortons Brier in London.