Randy Neufeld and his La Salle team (Peter Nicholls, Darren Oryniak, Dale Michie, Dean Moxham) have opened the 2023-24 curling season with a victory in the CJOB Championship event of the Bob Picken Open Masters bonspiel at Granite. The champions defeated former Manitoba Senior men’s champion Lionel Walz 5-2 in the Friday afternoon final game.
Because the Neufeld team already has a provincial championship berth, as defending champion, the 2024 provincial berth available through the ‘spiel had already been won by the Walz foursome as a result of winning their semi-final.
Walz defeated Lawrie Hogg (Stonewall) 5-4 in the semi-final. The game featured perhaps the best two final shots of the event. Tied 4-4 coming home, Hogg covered the button with his last stone draw – buried behind a rock on the centreline in the 12 ft circle. Walz won the game with an equally perfect shot to tap the Hogg counter to the back of the four-foot circle.
Neufeld defeated former Manitoba Masters champion Gord McTavish (Pembina) 9-2 in their morning semi-final.
Team Neufeld joins Hogg (2019), Walz (2021), and Joe Fouasse (2022) as champions of the event established in memory of legendary CJOB Broadcaster Bob Picken. There was no 2020 event due to Covid.
In the 2023 secondary event finals, Clarence Kohut defeated Allan Gitzel, Dave Fisher beat Joe Fouasse, and Dave Johannson won over Lori Pelissier.
The Picken Open Masters committee expresses appreciation to CurlManitoba for assigning the Masters berth to the event, to the 16 men’s and 4 women’s teams who took part, to the Granite Curling Club for hosting the bonspiel, and to major sponsors CJOB, Asham, and Corby Spirit & Wine for their support.
Proceeds from the bonspiel, augmented by donations from the Neufeld and Walz teams and several other individual participants in the event, will be used to continue the committee’s mandate of supporting junior curling development in Manitoba. To date, the Bob Picken Junior Legacy Fund has awarded grants totalling $4,500 to eight junior clubs and leagues across Manitoba.
Information about this year’s junior program grant application process will be available about mid-October. The committee’s intent is to award at least two and possibly three $500 grants this fall.