Area playdowns draw scarce numbers

Stratton rinks have swept their respective junior men and ladies’ zone playdowns—by default.
Rinks skipped by Trevor Bonot and Kelly Neilson were awarded berths to the regional playdowns later this month after no other competitors from the Rainy River-Atikokan area stepped up to challenge them this weekend at the Stratton Curling Club.
Neilson and her team of Amber Sheloff (third), Amy Neilson (second), and Giselle Bonot (lead) will be making their second trip to the regionals, slated Nov. 22-25 in Balmertown.
Neilson’s rink finished with a 2-5 record last year.
They, along with alternate Katie Bondett, also make up the Muskie girls’ curling team that’s set to compete in NorWOSSA play beginning in December.
Muskie head coach Tom Fry said the girls look strong to win another berth to NWOSSAA this winter.
Meanwhile, Bonot’s team of Adam Bolen, Brendan Loney, and Matt Neilson will move on to the regional playdowns Nov. 15-18 at the Port Arthur Curling Club in Thunder Bay.
In related news, the Fort Frances Curling Club will host the senior men’s and ladies’ zone playdowns Nov. 9-11. But so far, only four teams are entered on the men’s side and just two unconfirmed ones for the ladies.
Bryan Bonot of Stratton, the defending zone champ, will square off against local rinks headed by Don DeBenedet, Ron Bridgeman, and Jim Jackson.
This will be DeBenedet’s first taste of senior action after being a regular fixture on the regular men’s circuit.
The rinks will compete in a round-robin, double-knockout format concluding with a one-match final. Draw times will be announced next week.
The two top rinks will advance to the regional playdowns Nov. 22-25 in Nipigon.
There is still time for senior teams to join the fray. Zone chairman Rob Sinclair said Monday (Nov. 4) is the last day for teams to enter, something he hopes will happen to spice up the weekend.
He can be reached at 274-4440.
“[The number of teams is] close to normal but there has been more in the past,” noted Sinclair. “It has dropped. The guys just get older and don’t get as interested.”