The path to earning qualifying spots from the Okanagan Men’s Playdowns was different for the two winners.
Jeff Richard out of the Kelowna Curling Club went 2-0, while Mark Longworth’s Vernon rink went 3-1 to advance to provincials.
Richard defeated Andrew Nerpin’s rink 9-2 in six ends.
“We actually played really well both games,” said Richard, who opened the playdowns by defeating fellow Kelowna Curling Club member Sean Matheson 8-4. “Our first two games being together as a team this year, we’re pretty happy with the outcome.”
Richard’s rink opened against Nerpin by stealing three points and that helped his team take control. Nerpin’s Kelowna rink scored one in the third, but Richard got it back in the fourth. Nerpin added another in the fifth. In the sixth end, Richard scored five to seal the win. Richard admitted to not knowing a lot about Nerpin’s rink, which had Penticton Curling Club member Matt Tolley, but said they had good throwers.
“We knew they were going to make a lot of shots,” said Richard, who won provincials in 2010. “Even though we had a bit of a lead, we had to stay focused. They played well right through.”
After losing their opening draw 10-5 to Nerpin, Penticton’s Blaine Black, who played with Longworth, said things got better after getting used to the ice. They struggled with it against Nerpin and made poor shots. They ended up meeting Nerpin again in the second qualifier, this time winning 10-7.
“I thought we played extremely well. We made some big shots and had them chasing us all the time,” said Black. “The whole team — we didn’t have much for misses. We didn’t give them too many opportunities. There’s a few ends that they played really well.”
Nerpin’s rink took a 1-0 lead after the first end, then Longworth scored four in the second. The lead was cut in half in the third, but Longworth added another four to their total. Leading 8-3 after five, Black thought maybe they would end up doing the traditional hand shake to conclude the game. Nerpin’s side didn’t quit and doubled them up 4-2 in the last four ends.
Being a new addition to the Longworth rink, Black said this will be his third provincial appearance.
“I think I add quite a bit of experience holding the broom in the house there when Mark is throwing,” said Black, who has played with Longworth before. “That seems to be an asset. You have to get on a roll. If you get on a roll things can go your way. You need some luck as well when your’e facing guys like (Jim) Cotter and (Dean) Joanisse, who are ultimately the favourites.”
Eight other teams qualified for the Canadian Direct Insurance BC Men’s Curling Championship in Nelson, Feb.10-14.