Three is magic number for Bonot foursome

It may have been American Thanksgiving last week but Stratton skip Bryan Bonot should give thanks to three things at the senior men’s district playdowns last weekend in Nipigon: his brother, his biggest rival, and his own clutch extra-end shot.
It was those three things which handed Don Brunton (Sioux Lookout) three consecutive losses, leaving the door open for the Bonot rink to snare a third-straight provincial berth.
This is the first time they aren’t heading to the provincials as the district champs.
Bonot finished round-robin play in second place with a 5-2 record. Gary Ball (Thunder Bay Curling Club) also advanced to the provincials Jan. 10-12 in North Bay after topping the eight-rink field with a 6-1 record.
Ball’s top finish was his first since 1998.
Nevin Bonot’s rink from Stratton, which included Norm Hyatt and Jim and Glen Jackson, finished fifth overall with a 3-4 record.
After losing the first draw 10-2 to Ball last Thursday, the 53-year-old Bonot led his rink of Terry Lee, Ron Martinuk, and Ted Stewart to five-straight wins.
In a mirror performance, Brunton won his first four draws before dropping his final three to Nevin Bonot (9-7), Bryan Bonot (9-8), and Ball (7-2).
Brunton said the extra-end loss to Bonot in the sixth draw Saturday was the turning point of the weekend. After being tied 4-4 after the fifth-end break, Brunton grabbed a 7-6 lead with a three-ender in the eighth.
Then with the rinks tied 8-8 in the 11th, Brunton tried to put his last rock deep in the eight-foot but misplayed it. Bonot, with the hammer, calmly knocked it out for the win.
“I slipped two feet too far,” recalled Brunton, who was competing in his first senior district playdowns. “Bryan made a perfect shot. That was quite a game.
“To win the overall, we had to win that game,” he noted.
Bonot admitted there was some concern after Brunton and Ball jumped out with perfect records after the first four draws, but said it didn’t really effect how his team approached their opponents.
“You really just have to play your own game. If you stand around watching others, you’ll lose,” he reasoned.
Bonot came closest to a provincial title here in 1999 when he was within a game of forcing a tiebreaker for first place. His rink went 2-3 last year.
“We’re hoping [to get to the next level]. There’s no guarantees in this game,” said Bonot, who went undefeated at the Zone 7 playdowns here earlier this month.
Lee admitted this run to the provincials was much tougher as they were playing many rinks for the first time. “We just wanted to qualify. In the past two years, we’ve been lucky to take first place,” he said.
“We knew Ball’s team would be tough. The other teams from Thunder Bay and Manitouwadge were relatively new so we didn’t what to expect,” he added.
In senior ladies’ district play, Zone 7 champ Susan Clarke (Dryden) went 0-7 in Nipigon to finish in last place.
Sharon Giertuga (Port Arthur) and Susan Joseph (Nipigon) were the two top rinks in the round-robin and now move on to the provincials in North Bay in January.