Roy rink advances to senior provincials

Local curler Raymond Roy took the lessons he learned during last year’s senior men’s provincial playdowns in New Liskeard to heart.
The Fort Frances skip struggled in the early going of the provincials a year ago and finished with a 2-3 record.
Roy said the team’s lack of consistency was the main factor in their struggles on Northern Ontario’s biggest curling stage.
“You have to be consistent right from the opening shot right through the whole 10-end game,” he stressed. “All the teams are solid from top to bottom, so you have to start the game right from the first shot.”
Armed with that knowledge and experience, Roy, along with teammates Don DeBenedet (third), Dave Bondett (second) and Paul Fraser (lead), came into year’s Northwestern Ontario playdowns in Kakabeka Falls with the goal of bringing their ‘A’ game from the outset.
And the local curling quartet did not disappoint, finishing the four-day competition with a sterling 7-0 record.
The rink’s first-place finish in the eight-team round-robin earned them a return trip to the provincials, which are scheduled for Feb. 21-25 in Sault Ste. Marie.
“We played very well,” Roy enthused. “We got off to a good start in every game and were then able to control the games.”
Roy will be joined in the Soo by Larry Chepesiuk (Thunder Bay), who captured the other berth to the provincial showdown courtesy of his second-place finish at Kakabeka Falls (5-2).
Bryan Bonot (Stratton) also competed on the weekend but failed to advance, finishing the four-day event with a 1-5 record (the bottom four teams opted not to play their final round-robin game as they had already been eliminated from contention).
But while Roy is looking forward to proving he belongs among the top curlers in the region, he was sure to appreciate his accomplishments from the weekend.
“We’re playing against a lot of the teams we’ve competed against for the last 20 years or so,” he noted. “When you go on the ice, you want to play to win.”
Roy opened the competition with a 8-5 win over Chepesiuk last Wednesday night.
They then dumped Dan Macsemchuk (Kakabeka Falls) 11-2 before earning a narrow 8-6 win over Tim Pyhtila (Port Arthur) in their two draws Thursday.
Roy continued his hot streak with a pair of wins Friday. He first defeated Murray Affleck (Kenora) by a score of 10-4, then came through with a 7-2 win over Bonot later in the day.
Roy wrapped up his perfect record Saturday with a 5-3 victory over Ken Anderson (Red Lake) and a 9-0 shutout versus Jim Pick (Marathon).
< *c>Senior women
In senior women’s action, meanwhile, Judy LaBelle of Fort Frances continues to be snake-bitten in her quest for a berth at the provincial playdowns.
For the fourth-consecutive year, LaBelle—along with third Nancy Evans, second Dianne Bonot, and lead Sally Stewart—finished third, narrowly missing the cut-off to qualify for the provincial playdowns.
“It was very disappointing,” LaBelle lamented. “We just weren’t consistent.
“We did well anyways,” she noted, before adding, “One of these years we’re going to crack it.”
With Muriel Anderson (Sioux Lookout) already having clinched the first provincial berth, LaBelle fell 10-2 to Marion Clark (Port Arthur) in the battle to determine the second spot at Sault Ste. Marie later this month.
“We just kind of fell apart,” LaBelle said of her rink’s performance against Clark. “We just had a struggle in the final game.”
LaBelle fell 8-7 to Anderson in her opening game at the four-team showdown last Thursday.
“We should have probably won that game but we had a couple of fall downs in the middle of the game,” she said. “It was a very good game.”
She then split her two games Friday, losing 11-7 to Clark but then rebounding with an 8-5 win over Bev Junnila (Port Arthur).
The Fort Frances rink then beat Junnila 10-9 in the playoff round to advance to a rematch against Clark (who had lost to Anderson in the 1 vs. 2 match) for the second provincial berth.