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Manitoba foursome’s sights set on Travelers success

Winnipeg’s Andrew Wickman had two things on his mind when he formed his curling team two and a half years ago. The skip wanted to take a run at winning a Travelers Curling Club Championship and he wanted to achieve that with three people he could call friends.

The skip and his team are rolling toward that big goal in Miramichi, N.B. They’re 3-0 half way through round robin matchups.

(Curling Canada photo)

It was in Jeff Tarko’s garage, where Wickman, third Tarko and lead Cam Barth along with Mark Blanchard agreed as a club team from Winnipeg to make the Travelers Championship their goal for the foreseeable future.

Brent Baschuk joined the team this past season ahead of the squad winning the Manitoba championship and after Blanchard moved out of Manitoba. (Blanchard is at this year’s championship as the alternate player for Northern Ontario)

“The ice has been fantastic, this facility and the people here have just made us so comfortable,” Wickman said of the Miramichi Curling Club after coming off a 6-5 win over Yukon on Tuesday evening.

As for that goal of taking a run at the Travelers title with three good friends, Wickman and team have already spent a week in the region touring New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island (their initial tour of Halifax was cancelled due to a winter storm).

“We’ve had so much fun together as a team and as friends over the years. We’re all pretty much the same guy with the same dry sense of humour and close families,” said Wickman, who’s been curling for over 30 years.

Manitoba has won a record four women’s Travelers titles but has never captured one on the men’s side.

“We saw our friend Tyler Drews come so close to winning this in 2015 in Ottawa.” That next year Wickman’s foursome formed and were quarter-finalists in Kelowna, B.C.

“After that experience, and half way through this week already, I know that this is the way to go for people like us. We can balance everything else and still come up against some really strong teams out there. Across the six sheets you can see the talent is getting deeper and deeper.”

The Manitoba squad edged out Yukon’s Jim Sias 6-5 in a hard-fought game full of momentum swings.

In other Pool A men’s action Prince Edward Island sit at 2-0 after being idle on Tuesday evening. Nova Scotia’s Kurt Roach and Alberta’s Scott Garnett are both 1-1.

Pool B is led by Saskatchewan’s Kory Kohuch and his rink from the Nutana Curling Club. Kohuch hit double digits in a 10-2 win over host New Brunswick in Draw 6 on Tuesday evening. Ontario had the evening off but remain at 2-0. British Columbia didn’t need to throw their final rock in the eighth end in a tightly contested 7-6 win over the Northwest Territories in Draw 6. B.C. remains undefeated at 2-0 in Pool B.

Alberta’s Morgan Muise was the first women’s team to reach 3-0 after defeating Northern Ontario 5-4 earlier Tuesday evening. Northwest Territories is also undefeated in Pool A with a 2-0 record.

Ontario picked up their second win of the day to improve to 2-0 in Pool B. Stacey Hogan and her Oshawa Curling Club team share top spot in their pool with Manitoba. Deb McCreanor and her La Salle, Manitoba, team handed Newfoundland and Labrador (2-1) their first loss of the tournament in a important Pool B game on Tuesday night. With miscues on both sides and trailing by three, Newfoundland and Labrador had an end shaping up to score four points and the win but time and further miscues resulted in a steal for Manitoba and a 6-3 win.

Nunavut’s women’s team made history with a 6-3 upset over Quebec earlier on Tuesday. The team from the Iqaluit Curling Club was the first Nunavut women’s team to win a game at the Travelers Championship since Kristy Frampton in 2011.

(Curling Canada photo)

Participants at the Travelers Curling Club Championship are also participating in an off-ice competition to help raise money to benefit youth curling across the country. Teams are raising funds through donations and a silent auction at the Miramichi Curling Club to support the Curling Canada Foundation.

The team that raises the most money has the best odds of winning the grand prize: an all-expenses trip for four, including event passes, accommodation and flights, to the 2019 World Financial Group Continental Cup Jan. 17-20 in Las Vegas. You can find more information at https://curlingca.donorpages.com/2018Travelerspages/

The 14 men’s and 14 women’s teams are split into two seven-team round-robin pools. After a single round-robin, the top three teams in each pool will make the playoffs. The first-place teams will be seeded directly into the semifinals, Friday, Nov. 23, at 6:30 p.m. (all times Atlantic). The second- and third-place teams will meet in crossover quarter-finals Friday at 1:30 p.m., with the winners moving into the semis.

The semifinal winners will play for gold, and the losers will play for bronze, Saturday, Nov. 24, at 9 a.m.

Selected games from the 2018 Travelers Curling Club Championship will be live-streamed at www.curling.ca/2018travelers.

Scores and standings from the event will be available at www.curling.ca/scoreboard.

For draw times, team lineups and other event info, go to: www.curling.ca/2018travelers/