Okanagan rink back to defend title

Jim Cotter's Kelowna/Vernon foursome will have home ice on side as B.C. men's curling championship starts Tuesay in Vernon

Kelowna's Tyrel Griffith and his teammates on the defending champion Jim Cotter rink will be in Vernon next week for the B.C. men's curling championship.

Without the high-profile John Morris throwing skip rocks, Jim Cotter’s rink was a little less conspicuous during the 2014-15 curling season.

But that doesn’t mean the Vernon/Kelowna foursome is any less motivated or qualified to take a run at its fourth B.C. men’s curling championship in five years.

Cotter, new third Ryan Kuhn, second Tyrel Griffith and lead Rick Sawatsky will be among the favourites in the 16-rink field of the 2015 provincials beginning Tuesday at the Vernon Curling Club.

While the newly-configured team started the season slowly, the Cotter rink finished strong, including reaching the playoff round at the Canadian Open in Yorkton.

“It’s always tricky when you start a season with new players, you kind of need to find your niche as a team,” said Griffith, who will be playing at his third provincials. “About halfway through (the Canada Cup in Canmore) we started to do that, we won a couple of big games and really started to gain momentum. We just got stronger in Yorkton, so hopefully that will carry over into provincials.”

With Morris at skip last year, the Okanagan team won the B.C. crown, then fell just a step short of a national title, losing to Alberta’s Kevin Koe in the Brier final.

Based on experience, past successes and home cooking in Vernon, expectations for the Cotter rink will be high.

But with former B.C. champs Brent Pierce, Dean Joanisse and Sean Geall—among several others—in the field, Griffiths said nothing will come easy.

“There are a lot of good teams in B.C., and this is probably the deepest field yet. Teams always seem to get up to play us, so we’ll have to be sharp. I’d say any one of six or seven teams could potentially be there at the end of the week.”

Kelowna’s Jeff Richard—the 2010 B.C. champ—will once again play third for the Brent Pierce rink, with Kelowna’s Tyler Orme and Dave Harper taking care of the front end.

Richard and Pierce were provincial runners-up together in both 2012 and 2013.

After a solid season on the cash circuit which saw the Kelowna rink win a WCT event in Kamloops and placed second in Estevan, Richard likes his team’s odds of contending for a title.

“We definitely feel confident, we know we can play to the level of the other top teams,” said Richard. “The challenge is that there are so many good teams out there. It’s all about who gets hot at the right time, you saw that at the (B.C.) women’s where (Patti) Knezevic got on a roll and took it all the way to the title.

“Hopefully that will be us.”

Another Kelowna curler, Kevin MacKenzie, hopes to win his first B.C. men’s title in 12 years.

MacKenzie, who will be throwing fourth rocks for Maple Ridge’s Grant Dezura, played with Pat Ryan’s provincial championship teams in 2002 and 2003.

The Dezura rink, also featuring Kelowna’s Jamie Smith, had an impressive season on the World Curling Tour, winning the Cloverdale and Vernon events, while reaching the semis in Kamloops and Red Deer, to collect more than $19,000 in earnings.

Kelowna’s Russ Koffski will also be in Vernon, playing third for Darren Nelson’s Kamloops rink.

The B.C. men’s championship in Vernon is a triple-knockout with a Page playoff format.

The final game will be played Sunday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m.

 

Just Posted

Okanagan Farmers receive support with B.C. Land Matching Program

The program connects farmers looking for land with landowners looking to lease

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Okanagan Regional Library introduces ASL story-time

The Rutland and Westbank locations will host the events

Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal MP acclaimed for his party’s nomination

Stephen Fuhr runs unopposed as the party’s standard-bearer for the next federal election

Kelowna Rockets ready to take off into regular season

The home opener kicks things off in Kamloops on Friday

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

High spirits after first week of classes at Shuswap’s outdoor school

South Canoe School is taking student learning into the great outdoors

A B.C. society helps to reforest Crown land after wildfires

Forest Enhancement Society of BC focuses on wildfire mitigation and the reforestation

B.C. marijuana workers may face U.S. border scrutiny

Cannabis still illegal federally south of the border

Symphony giants launch 59th Okanagan Symphony Orchestra season

Concerts in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon Sept. 21-23

Over 60 cats and kittens surrendered to the South Okanagan-Similkameen SPCA

The surrender is part of an ongoing animal cruelty investigation with BC SPCA Special Constable

Most Read