Competitors representing the La Salle Curling Club had a great time at the Manitoba Credit Unions Master’s Curling Championships in Thompson March 8-13, winning both the women’s and men’s provincial championships for curlers aged 60 and older.
Randy Neufeld’s squad took the men’s title on Monday afternoon, defeating Mike Mahon’s foursome from the Granite Curling Club 4-3 in seven ends to capture their first master’s championship in their first year competing in the category.
Mahon’s squad scored two in the sixth end to tie the game up 3-3 just after the time limit bell was sounded, making it a “next end wins” situation. Mahon’s last shot came up a little short and Neufeld’s team took the match with one rock left to throw.
“It was a battle,” said Neufeld after the game. “I thought we played good and didn’t make any mistakes that were big mistakes.”
The championship team, which included Peter Nicholls, Darren Oryniak and Dale Michie, has plenty of experience winning championships. Nicholls was a member of a team that won the Tankard when the men’s provincials were in Thompson in 1994. Along with Dean Moxham, Neufeld, Nicholls and Michie have won four senior men’s titles since 2015 and will go for another in two weeks at the Strathcona Trust Seniors championships in Dauphin.
Nicholls has won seven Manitoba provincial championships altogether, including the 2018 Manitoba mixed championships. Michie was a member of the team that won the mixed provincials in 2001 and Oryniak was part of the team that won the senior men’s championships in 2013.
Neufeld, who played in a northern berth bonspiel in Thompson sometime in the ‘80s or ‘90s, said the winning stone was about two inches closer to the button than Mahon’s final shot.
One day before Neufeld’s win, the team of Laurie Deprez, Deb McCreanor, Lori Pellissier and Bev Atkins defeated Sandra Cowling’s rink from Hamiota 5-3 to claim their first master’s championship.
Team Deprez stole two in the fifth end to take a 4-3 lead and stole another in the seventh before running Cowling out of rocks while poised to score two more.
It is the first time since credit unions started sponsoring the master’s championships that the men’s and woman’s championships have been won by teams from the same club.
Cowling’s team was in the master’s women’s final for the fourth straight year, having won in 2019 and 2020.
The members of the winning women’s squad have all won provincial titles before. Deprez skipped the 2012 senior women’s champion team, McCreanor skipped the 2018 and 2021 club champions teams and Atkins was a member of the 1984 mixed championship-winning team. Pellessier was a member of mixed champion teams in 1995 and 2000 and skipped the 2012 club championship-winning foursome.
Sam Antila of the Burntwood Curling Club, who was part of the tournament organizing committee and also one of the competitors, on a team that went 2-5 losing several close games, said it was a lot of work to put the provincials together but that it was well worth the effort as everything went smoothly.
“We didn’t have any issues at all,” Antila said. “None, which is amazing.”
He heard a lot of compliments about the tournament as a whole and about the ice.
“That’s always one of the key components is the ice conditions and our ice conditions are second to none,” he said after the men’s final.
“They did a really good job on the ice, it had good speed,” said Neufeld. “That’s half the battle.”