Top notch curling is drawing into Penticton Saturday and Sunday for the Curl BC Okanagan men’s play downs.
On the line are two spots to qualify for provincials in Nelson, and if successful, the provincial winner will advance to the Tim Horton’s Brier.
Of the six teams, the Penticton Curling Club is represented by Blaine Black and Matt Tolley, while the Summerland Curling Club has Tyler Jaeger playing on the Matheson rink.
Penticton Curling Club liaison, George Horner, who is also the governor for regions 3, 4 and 7 for Curl BC, said the event features teams from Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops.
“For the spectators that attend at no charge, it will be a awesome display of talent and curling,” said Horner.
Tolley is playing with the Andrew Nerpin rink out of Kelowna and its the teams first year playing competitively. Tolley and third Adam Cseke played together as juniors in Salmon Arm and Nerpin has played in provincials while in Ontario. He said their team is confident they can have some success, especially after beating a Korean rink ranked 20th in the world in Kamloops recently.
“That gives us a lot of confidence that we can go toe-to-toe with some of the bigger teams,” said Tolley. “We have to come and play when it matters.”
To qualify, Nerpin’s rink will have to win three matches, which Tolley said is a long haul. Should they lose, there is a second chance for them to qualify through the back door, but that involves playing in a 12 to 14-team event.
When jokingly asked if that means they won’t be taking in too many cold beverages, Tolley said likely not, “but you never know.”
“There might be one or two. That’s part of the game that you kind of still enjoy afterwards,” he said. “You still want to go have a pint, celebrate either a good win or maybe drown in your sorrows a bit.”
Nerpin’s rink opens the play downs against Black and Mark Longworth’s Vernon rink.
“Kick his ass,” joked Black about facing Tolley, who he knows well and has played against before.
“I think for the most part it will be a good competition for sure,” said Black.
Black isn’t expecting home ice advantage because the surface at the club changes week to week, but with his and Longworth’s experience should help. Longworth has competed in more than a dozen provincials.
“It will be a good squad that way,” said Black. “I’m not sure about my sweeping ability (because he has been a skip so much.)”
The action begins both days at 9 a.m. The second draw on Saturday is at 2 p.m., with the final draw at 7 p.m.
On Sunday, the second and last draw is at 2 p.m.
Provincially there are 13 berths are up for grabs. Along with Penticton, there are play downs in Fernie, Parksville and New Westminster this weekend. The 2016 Canadian Direct Insurance BC Men’s Curling Championship, presented by EZ Rock and Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism, will take place at the Nelson Curling Centre from February 10-14. The teams that have already qualified include defending champions Team Cotter (Vernon), and Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS) points winners Team Joanisse and Team Geall from the Royal City Curling Club.