Bonot, Badiuk set for provincial playdowns

Lucas Punkari

For Stratton’s Trevor Bonot and Devlin’s Mike Badiuk, the goals are simple as they head into the Northern Ontario men’s curling playdowns starting Sunday in Sault Ste. Marie.
Playoffs or bust.
“If we have a good week, I think we have a good chance of making it to the playoffs,” said Bonot, who now lives in Thunder Bay.
“The attitude that we have going into the Soo is to just make the playoffs and let things play out there from there,” noted Badiuk, who currently attends school in the Lakehead.
Bonot, who skips a team that includes third Al Macsemchuk, second Scott McCallum, and lead Tim Jewett, advanced to the provincials back on Jan. 8 by winning the NOCA Region 1 playdowns at the Fort Frances Curling Club, defeating Adam Bolen of Fort Frances 9-7 in the final.
“Since we won that, we have all been pretty excited about going to the provincials,” said Bonot, who last went in 2009 as second on Brian Adams Jr.’s rink.
“We haven’t had any major bonspiels or anything like that, but we’ve had our Major League games here in Thunder Bay along with our practice sessions, and we’ve been working very hard,” he added.
Badiuk, meanwhile, is heading to his third-straight provincial playdowns with Jeff Currie’s Thunder Bay-based rink, after having playing second for Tim Nordin’s Stratton rink in 2010 and as third for John Salo’s Geraldton team last year.
“I haven’t been a lead for a long time so that’s been a little bit different this year,” he laughed.
“Overall, though, it’s been going pretty good in that role. But it’ll be interesting to be playing as a lead for the first time at the provincials,” he admitted.
Joining Badiuk are his former junior teammates, Dylan Johnston at third and Cody Johnston at second, who finished second at the 2009 Canadian championships.
“Jeff won the 1996 junior title, so he has a load of experience to lead our team,” Badiuk noted.
“We haven’t played a lot of bonspiels, but we finished second at an event in St. Paul earlier this year and we also won the Major League title this weekend in Thunder Bay over Joe Scharf, which was really nice.”
While they don’t venture to out-of-town events all that often, both Bonot and Badiuk have been to the Soo Curlers Association rink in the past, so they have an idea of what to expect when they begin round-robin play Sunday afternoon.
“We actually were in an event in the Soo back in October,” Bonot said. “So the ice will probably be a little bit different to what it was then as they will have some more time to get everything ready.”
“The last time I was there was in 2006 for the junior playdowns,” noted Badiuk. “But from talking to people that have been there lately, they tell me that it still curls a lot like it did when I went there.”
In the opening draw at 2:30 p.m. (EST), both area curlers will be going up against one another.
Their second games that evening will see Bonot take on Mike Assad (Thunder Bay) while the Currie rink will go up against Jordan Chandler (Sudbury).
“Those are going to be two tough games for us, so we will be wanting to start off strong against two teams from our area in Thunder Bay,” Bonot stressed.
“As long was we can play our game, we should do fine, and hopefully we can do the Rainy River District proud just like Jenna Enge did this weekend,” he added.
“In a 12-team round-robin, we know that we have to probably win seven games to be into the playoffs, and that might not even be enough,” Badiuk admitted.
“Of the teams that are the favourites, we haven’t played [defending champ] Brad Jacobs [Sault Ste. Marie] yet and we have played Scharf four times this year and we were 2-2 against them.
“We know that we can play with the best of them,” he reasoned.
Round-robin play will continue until next Friday morning, with the final slated for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (EST) or on Sunday at 9 a.m. (if three tie-breakers are needed).
The winner will go on to represent Northern Ontario at this year’s Tim Hortons Brier, which will run March 3-11 in Saskatoon, Sask.