Just days prior to the 2013 Canadian Direct Insurance B.C. Men’s Curling Championship, Victoria skip Jay Tuson lost the services of his regular third Colin Mantik.
Mantik was competing at a firefighters’ bonspiel in Qualicum Beach last weekend when he took a tumble, injuring his groin and abdominal muscles and will be out eight weeks.
So Mike Wood fills in as competition begins today in the 16-team field at the Parksville Curling Club.
On the line is a berth in the Tim Hortons Brier in Edmonton from March 2-10. The Brier champ will then represent Canada at the Ford World Men’s Championship slated for Victoria’s Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre from March 30-April 7.
“I think we’re a better team this year, not withstanding what’s happened with Colin,” said Tuson, who is competing in his seventh provincial championship and second straight. “I think we worked at it a bit more this year than in the past.”
Last year, the Victoria Curling Centre rink won its first three games and was a victory away from advancing to the Page Playoff 1-2 game, only to lose to veteran Brent Pierce.
“We were right there, so close,” said Tuson, whose rink includes Glen Jackson at second and Ken Tucker at lead and is one of three VCC teams competing.
They will face clubmate Neil Dangerfield — with Denis Sutton at third, Darren Boden at second and Glen Allen at lead — in Draw 1 at 9 a.m.
“A little hometown matchup,” said Dangerfield. “It’s our third time in a row [at provincials] so I think we’re just trying to stay relaxed and hopefully put that experience to good use.”
Two years ago the team finished as runner-up to Jim Cotter, the two-time defending champion out of Vernon.
“I think we can play with anybody. We’re just hoping we play our best at provincials and see what happens,” said Dangerfield.
Jason Montgomery’s crew, with Miles Craig at third, Will Duggan at second and Josh Hozack at lead, is the other VCC rink and will face Kimberley’s Tom Buchy in Draw 2 at 2 p.m.
Former Esquimalt curler, Dean Joanisse, is representing Abbotsford.
Cotter is back, with new third Jason Gunnlaugson in place, and will be the favourite in the triple-knockout event that then features the Page Playoff system. Pierce’s Royal City crew is also among the heavy-hitters.
There are a number of sidebars to the event as Tuson and Jackson won a B.C. title with Joanisse back in 2001. Joanisse also won in 2007 with Wood as his third.
Pierce, meanwhile, has claimed three provincials, all at third, the latest in 2009 with Sean Geall. Pierce also won the Brier and Worlds in 2000 with skip Greg McAuley.
EXTRA ENDS: The semifinal, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and the championship game, Sunday at 5 p.m., will both be broadcast on Shaw TV. … Renowned icemaker B.J. Gagnon has come over from the mainland to create the surface for the week. … Tickets are $5 a draw or $40 for a full event pass.
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