Virden’s Graham Freeman team gave the hometown fans lots to cheer about on opening day at the Viterra Championship in Virden as Manitoba’s top men’s curling teams assembled to vie for the championship and a berth in the Tim Hortons Brier in March in Brandon.
The locals played on the opening draw, attracting a better than average early morning turnout, and their fans left Tundra Oil and Gas Place happy as the Virden foursome stole a point coming home to solidify a 6-4 win over Carberry’s Kelly Marnoch.
All 32 teams in the competition played on Wednesday with few surprises as the top five seeded teams and most other game-favourites were among the 16 first game winners.
Team Freeman returns to the ice at 12:15 PM Thursday against #2 seed Jason Gunnlaugson (Morris). Also at 12:15 Thursday, top seed and defending champion Reid Carruthers, with Mike McEwen skipping the West St. Paul team, will play Terry McNamee (Brandon).
The three, four and five seeds all play their second game at 8:30AM Thursday. #3 Braden Calvert (Assiniboine Memorial) plays Trevor Loreth (Granite, #4 Tanner Lott (Winnipeg Beach) meets Sean Grassie (Deer Lodge) and #5 Dennis Bohn (Assiniboine Memorial) plays Daniel Birchard (Pembina).
Four other teams earned a split of two games on opening day, winning B-Side games after losing their openers. On the late draw Wednesday, Neepawa’s Kelly Robertson fell behind 4-0 but scored a 6-ender on the third end to go up 6-4 on Dean North (Carman). It wasn’t enough however as the high scoring match ended 12-9 in favour of North.
Brett Walter (Elmwood) defeated Shaun Parsons (Burntwood-Thompson) 10-3, Steve Irwin (Brandon) beat Curtis McCannell (Pilot Mound) 7-2, and Kelly Marnoch (Carberry) was a 9-3 winner over Darren Perche (Charleswood)
Parson, McCannell, Perche and Robertson are the first four teams eliminated from the double knockout preliminary round of the championship.
Complete linescores for the first day of play in Virden are available at https://curlmanitoba.org/about-company/scoreboard/#!/competitions/4440.