A pair of Dawson Creek rinks, and one from Fort St. John, earned berths to provincials in their respective divisions this weekend at the Peace Region district finals in Grande Prairie.
Dawson Creek’s Tristan Steinke defended his juvenile title at the regional championships, and Darrel Veiner won the senior men’s ‘B’ Event final to give him his first visit to provincials as a senior curler. While Fort St. John’s Jodi Busche advanced to the senior women’s ‘B’ final where she won handily 9-0 over Donna Sipe.
The rink of fourth Steinke, third Karsten Sturmay, second Alex Wolfe and lead Brad Skytte won back-to-back games in the four-team field to secure the ‘A’ Event berth of the PCA Optimist Juvenile Men’s Districts.
It was no easy task, however, for Steinke who narrowly avoided a first round defeat to Darren Turcotte before reaching the finals to down Dustin Turcotte 7-3 for the championship.
Against Darren in the opening-round semifinal, Steinke, who shares skip duties with Sturmay (Leduc, Alta.), fell behind early giving up singles in the first and third ends while scoring one in the second.
“We were definitely prepared but the team we were playing against made some good shots,” said Steinke about his semifinal opponent.
“We had them looking at four [of our rocks] in the third and he made a great shot. He had to touch the four-foot to keep his team in it and he made it.”
“We missed a few key shots that could have put us up early in the game,” added Steinke, who has been a member of the last five district champion rinks.
Down 2-1, Steinke put three on the board in the fifth after Turcotte missed his guard shot to make it 4-2; however, Turcotte’s double in the seventh tied things at four heading into the eighth end.
A burnt rock by Steinke in the eighth might have cost the rink the match but Steinke recovered to score one with his final shot, drawing to the four-foot for the win and a place in the finals.
There, Steinke took control early and jumped out to a 4-2 lead after four ends, which he extended in ends seven and eight with a single and a double to finish things off.
Veiner made the B-final after losing his second-round match to Kelly Ollenberger. Veiner needed three straight wins on the B-side to claim the last available berth, and did so in dramatic fashion winning each match by a one-point margin.
The veteran Dawson Creek skip staved off elimination with a 6-5 win over Cliff Kostiuk in the quarter-finals; downed Colin Griffith in the semis’, 8-7; and then won his rematch with Ollenberger by the same score in the ‘B’ final.
“We just tried to keep the games under control, and close, and tried to manage the scores so that we didn’t get behind too badly,” said Veiner on Monday.
“We took advantage of our chances.”
Veiner said he focused on forcing the play on the other curlers, such as Ollenberger and Griffith, while making key shots of his own.
In the finals, Ollenberger had a chance for two to force an extra end but missed his final shot to give Veiner the win.
“That was the plan going into the final end. With three guards it’s really hard to not give him a chance for a couple but we made sure that’s all he could get,” said Veiner who was prepared to take it to extra ends with the hammer.
Veiner, along with ‘A’ Event champion Jeff Henricks (Grande Prairie) will compete at provincials Feb. 13-17 at the Granite Curling Club in Edmonton, Alta.
As for Busche, she finished the weekend as well with three straight wins after falling 8-7 to Sipe in her first round match. Busche defeated Dawson Creek’s Marlene Maxwell 9-6 and Colette Trudeau 16-2 to advance to the ‘B’ side championship where she upset Sipe in seven ends.
Devin Burkitt (Grande Prairie) will be joining Steinke as the second juvenile qualifier from the Peace Region at provincials in Sylvan Lake, Alta. March 1-3.
After losing his first round match 4-3 to Dustin Turcotte, Burkitt bounced back with a 7-3 win over Darren in the ‘B’ Event semifinal.
Facing Dustin for a second time that tournament, Burkitt won the ‘B’ final 5-3. Down 3-2, Burkitt scored a double in the sixth and one in the eighth for a comeback victory.
On the juvenile girls’ side, Grande Prairie’s Kellie Henricks (‘A’-winner) and Courtney Rossing earned their place at provincials.