Local flavour falls short in bid

Mitch Calvert

Despite the fact a local team missed out on an opportunity to represent the town at the NOCA men’s provincial curling playdowns here last week, several players with connections to Rainy River District took to the ice at the Fort Frances Curling Club.
Rob Sinclair Jr., second for Art Lappalainen’s rink, has been a long-time Thunder Bay resident but was born in Fort Frances and still has connections to the town, including his father, Rob Sr.
His team advanced to the ‘B’-side final before losing out to eventual runner-up Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie) by a 9-4 score.
That loss seemed to derail their momentum as Sinclair and company then lost 7-5 to Mike Assad of Thunder Bay (a team they had beaten earlier in the week) in a game where a win would have sent them to the Page playoff round.
Assad gained the upper hand in the back-and-forth match with a deuce in the ninth to set up holding the hammer in the extra end.
“I thought we played pretty well throughout the week,” Sinclair said. “We were on the wrong side of the inch a couple of games and that was the difference, but in the end I think the best team won,” he added, referring to Mike Jakubo’s rink.
“We would’ve liked to have done better, but it wasn’t in the cards,” he reasoned.
Despite having been a competitive curler for a long time, the 45-year-old said this was the first competitive event he had ever competed in here in Fort Frances.
“It was a pretty special week for me, the boys had a lot of fun,” Sinclair said of his experienced rink. “I was glad to see a lot of people out cheering for us and it made it that much more special.”
The Lappalainen team was riding high going into the week—fresh off a win at the TbayTel Thunder Bay Men’s Major League Cup in Thunder Bay the weekend before. Sinclair himself has now won that title five times.
Sinclair and third Ron Rosengren have played together for more than eight years, and joined up with Lappalainen and lead Gary Maunula late last year.
Meanwhile, Brian Adams Jr.’s rink included second Trevor Bonot of Stratton, who attends school in Thunder Bay and joined up with Adams there.
The young squad opened with a 6-5 loss to Assad, rebounded with a 7-3 win over Cory Nephin (Geraldton) in their first ‘B’ side match, lost to Matt Dumontelle (Sudbury) 6-4, then were eliminated with a 7-6 loss to Robert Thomas (Sault Ste. Marie).
“We were a lot short [of our goals],” Bonot admitted. “We thought we were a lot more capable than what we did, but such is life.”
In an odd coincidence, the last time the men’s provincials were held here in 1997, Trevor’s dad, Bryan Bonot, was skip of the lone local team in the event.
“I knew that. I was watching when he was playing [in 1997], so this year when I found out the provincials were in Fort Frances, it was a little extra incentive to play at home,” the 23-year-old Bonot said.
“He was my coach growing up in Stratton,” he noted. “I hung around at men’s night and learned a lot after the games.”
Bonot also had nothing but praise for the host committee and the job they did making the curlers who weren’t in familiar surroundings feel right at home.
“It was my first men’s provincials, way different from the junior ones I’ve been to before, but it was a lot of fun and great hospitality,” he enthused.
The lead for Murray Affleck’s rink out of Keewatin was Dache Dimit, who has family members still living in Emo.
Affleck’s team struggled here, losing three-straight to be one of the first eliminated last Wednesday night.