Hack to Hack

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Curling Story

In 1973, in Labrador City, NL, Sue Anne Bartlett was a Newfoundland curling icon. Curling out of the Carol Curling Club, she had been to several Scotts and had more to come. While she was doing this, there were a group of kids playing road hockey on a regular basis during those long, cold winter days (when not in school). Road hockey was a big deal back then...so big, in fact, that different neighborhoods played against each other and it was pretty competitive.

So one October day (yes, there was lots of snow in October...after all...we are talking about Labrador) while a road hockey game was going on, a group of kids were walking up the road. The one road hockey player stopped to ask these kids where they were headed. They replied, "We're going to the curling club to try out curling". So, with that, the kid who made the inquiry threw his hockey stick in the snowbank and went with those other kids to see what this curling thing was all about. The kid had heard about curling...even watched a bit of the Air Canada Silver Broom on television (in black and white of course).

When they got to the club, they were given the opportunity to try it out. There were lots of other kids there, both from Labrador City and Wabush. After some instruction, they even played a game. These kids were hooked..it was awesome. New friendships were struck and a junior league started up. In fact, junior curling was after school three days a week...curl as much as you want was the message. And curl they did.

I guess you have guessed by now that I was the kid who threw his stick into the bank.

A love affair began that day. I fell in love with curling and spent all my time at it. My parents were happy at this new found pastime...after all, I could have been out getting into trouble and causing them grief. Instead, I was at the curling club where they knew where I was and also knew I was not up to no good! They bought me a green pair of Bauer shoes (yikes!!) and a corn broom (polkadot...remember those?) Eventually, I played alot of competitive curling and it got so we got to play in the adult leagues. We played in all the family bonspiels and that is how I spent my elementary and high school years.

When I went away to university, I curled alot less but still played ion tournaments held a couple times a year between the different residences...a bit of a hiatus really but curling was always in my blood. After I graduated, I headed west to Lloydminster, AB where I played one  night a week in the Oilmen's League. It was great fun and I enjoyed this night out. I met lots of new people and I have to say, it was a blast.

Eventually, I headed back east and ended up in Toronto where I did not curl for a few years. Another hiatus...but curling was always there, just waiting to be rediscovered...which I did once I moved to Blind River. I started up again playing in the Mixed League with Francois and Shirley Lemieux...and once again, my love for the game was rekindled. Work brought me to Barrie for a decade and I played there with zeal...3 or 4 nights a week. Once again, new friendships and lots and lots of curling.

Eventually, we made our way back to Blind River and without hesitation, we rejoined the BRCC where we have been ever since. I have to say, I have made many great friends at the BRCC and of all the places that I have played, the BRCC is tops!! The fun level is off the charts.

So what is the point of this? Well, other than being a story that I am sharing with you, I want to impress how the game of curling created so many new and lasting friendships over the years. It was an excellent way to be involved in something worthwhile and it has been a game that has stayed with me for my lifetime. I imagine I will curl until I can 't which I hope is a long time yet.

I bet there are lots of people that can share similar stories. Many of them are my friends. That is why I advocate curling to others. Because it is such a great social activity. That is why it is important for all of us to advocate curling to others. To keep the game alive and to give your friends the pleasure of the excellent experience that curling delivers.

And if you aspire to be competitive, there is a place for that as well...and I can tell you from experience, there is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush that comes from a tight game...shot for shot.

Food for thought.

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Why You Should Curl

Know what all these people have in common? They are having fun! That's the beauty of the Roaring Game...it is for everyone.

Curling is a winter sport. And winter is not a season that everyone embraces with equal enthusiasm. While some embrace the cold weather and get out there and make the best of it, there are others that go running for the Vitamin D and bide their time for the summer season to come. If there was a census taken as to which season people liked the most, it is my guess that the vast majority would choose summer. I think I am one of those people. However, winter is a part of life here in the north and like it or not, we have to make the best of it. I mean, let's face it, you only get one life so instead of sitting around wishing for summer to come, it would be better to make the best out of every day, be it in the cold of winter or the heat of summer.

But, not everyone is out there with their snowshoes on, or drilling holes and ice fishing. So, what to do? Well, that's where curling comes in. Curling is an excellent way to spend your winter months. Not only do you get to get out there and get some exercise once or several nights a week, you also get to hang out with friends (and family in some cases).

Curling in a Mixed League is certainly a great way to spend an evening with your significant other. Play a game and have a beverage after coupled with some idle chatter with other couples. Sounds great, right? Well, it is! A perfect way to avoid hibernation. And that's not all, there are, from time to time, bonspiels to participate in and spend a weekend curling and enjoying the company of others. Usually, a Saturday night dance (and I can tell you from experience that the dances at the BRCC are humdingers!) and prizes on the Sunday.

How about a night out with your pals? Well, on Tuesday night is the Ladies league and on Thursday nights is the Mens League. Both great fun and excellent leagues.

This year, the BRCC is opening a Rookie league. Tentatively to be held on Friday evenings, the Rookie league will introduce you to the game with some instruction and games to follow. And what's more, you will be receiving instruction from a bonafide coach and Canadian Curling Hall of Fame inductee. Hard to beat that.

What if you are a past curler looking to rejoin the game. Perfect! There are always openings in the league and you will always find a spot.

New to Blind River (or any other community)? What better way to meet people and ensconce yourself into the community that to get out to the Curling Center. It is impossible not to meet people...and people will always be there to welcome you.

Want to kick the winter blahs? Well, kick them with curling and have a great time doing it. Equipment and memberships are cheap and you will come out of the winter absolutely fulfilled and with a whole new outlook on those long, cold winter months.

Certainly food for thought. Are you already a member? Get your friends out. Curling is not a sport that is only for the well off. Quite the opposite...it is for everyone, from all walks of life and of all skill levels.

It will never hurt to check it out. In fact, the BRCC will be holding an open house coming up later in the summer. Keep your eyes open for details.

Till then,

Keep Rockin' On!

The Curling Chronic

Monday, June 23, 2014

BRCC Needs A Webmaster!

I know what you're thinking. Did Don Lees start curling again? Well, that's  not him. That's Pal Trulson from Norway. But. it would be nice to see Don Lees start up with the Roaring game again now, wouldn't it?

In the meantime, years after the Salt Lake City, UT Winter Olympics when Trulson won the gold over Martin, both have now retired. Martin, a curling icon, will now be commentating the game with Sportsnet. Great choice, since Martin knows everything there is to know about curling. And another big name entering the ranks of the curling retired?...Cheryl Bernard. Yes, it is true, once again Cheryl Bernard is going to attempt to retire. She was going to do that before, a few years ago but came back to the game anyway. You never know, this could be another false alarm...time will tell.

But it won't be retirement for my fav...the Gush! In fact, Gushue is reuniting with with his old pal, Mark Nichols who has departed Winnipeg and Team Stoughton to return to the Rock and right back into the Gush's loving arms. Say so long to Adam Casey who has been sent packing. Brett Gallant will move to the second position and for all intents and purposes, this will be a powerhouse next season.

Looks like Johnny Mo was about to have a curling sabbatical but instead will be skipping for Team Ex-Koe. That right, with the departure of Kevin Koe from Team Koe, the first mens Team Canada will have Johnny Mo at the helm. Meanwhile, Koe will join up with Marc Kennedy, Brent Laing and Ben Hebert. Another tough squad on paper. That leaves Glen Howard to pick up John Mead and the return of his pal, Richard Hart. And what of Stoughton, well he is teamed up with Rob Fowler.

On the ladies side, with the departure of Allison Kreviacuk (heading to Sweden for love) from Team Homan, Joanne Courtney (formally vice for Val Sweeting) will come into the second position. Not to leave a gap on Team Sweeting, Andrea Crawford (New Brunswick's Bunny Eyes) will be in the third position.

I'm sure there will be other cabinet shuffles to report before all the summer dust settles.

In local news, the BRCC needs help in creating and maintaining a web page. The Hack to Hack is a great tool but the club really needs a webpage and thus requires someone who has the where-with-all to develop and maintain such a thing. Can you help? Please if you can and want to volunteer your time to help out the club, please contact Bob Villeneuve, Rose Neufeld, Al Gemmell or myself. We would love to hear from you!

In the meantime,

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

WASSUP with Fridays @ the BRCC?

Summer curling....for the die-hard curler. If it wasn't for the high hydro costs, summer curling might be a good thing! But as it is, curling, for the most part, remains a winter thing.

So, what is the dealio with Fridays at the BRCC? As strong as out cool club is, Fridays are just not the best day to plan league curling. At many other clubs, Friday night curling is a big night. And I can see why it is....a night out with your significant other or just a night out with pals. Perhaps play a game, have some vittles after and a few beverages. No work the next day so, kick it! But for some reason, Fridays remain to be a pretty mediocre night at the BRCC.

Perhaps we should try to resurrect Friday curling. It would have to be a league....this might be the perfect night for the Mixed Doubles to take off....perhaps even the Rookie League. Granted, locals from the Blind like to hit the road alot on the weekends...shopping in Sudbury or the Soo, or whatever but the Friday night at the club sounds like the perfect way to kick off the weekend. Give it some thought...expanding the membership will ultimately mean thinking outside the box a bit and utilizing the ice more than 4 nights a week.

In other news, the BRCC is undergoing a massive upgrade to the plantroom. New equipment and using glycol instead of water. Big job but come the fall, we will be "cooking with gas!"

The dance floor of the club was repaired and resealed just recently. I am afraid to name the individuals who volunteered their time to do it because I may leave someone out. But these people did a bang up job! That dance floor gets quite the work out during the season so it facelift (or is it floorlift) was definitely needed. Great job guys.

The ice surface looks great. The guys got our there and touched it up and boy, it is sharp. Looks so good, seems like you could go out and curl without ice!

So just in case you did not know: Bob Villeneuve is now the BRCC president. Vice president is Kristy Blanchet and Al Gemmell is the new Treasurer. Other directors are: Glen Austin, Wendy Smith, Michel Rivard, Al Viel, Rick Roberts, Ryan Hagger and Christie Hagger.

More news to follow later in the week.

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic


Friday, June 13, 2014

Good changes coming for the BRCC

The Times They Are a Changin'. Remember that one by Bob Dylan? Not my favourite Dylan song but I know it well. Well, in an effort to boost membership and enhance the BRCC curling experience, there will be some changes coming to our cool little club.


The BRCC is awesome. We all know that. In a time when clubs are struggling and with some even closing down, curling is still alive and well at the BRCC. BUT, last season, our membership took a dip for one reason or another. So, we need to get new members into the club and even try to get former members to return to the Roaring Game. So, with this in mind, a subcommittee was struck with Al Gemmell, yours truly, Rose Neufeld and Bob Villeneuve to look at ways to increase membership. Let's face it, no members...no club.


Some of the ideas we are looking at thus far include:


Rookie League: A new league for newcomers. Newbies can receive instruction and play games in this league. It might even be a perfect league for those existing members who are presently front end players but want to get into playing third or skip. What an excellent way to get people into the game and offer them a league of their own.....even at a special rate. I really like this idea! More to come on this!


Mixed Doubles: Another awesome idea. Mixed doubles is a great game. Easy to learn and fun to play. Presently, we are thinking about a Friday night league. Yes, that's right, Friday night! And I know you are going to say....Fridays are a tough sell...but this league can work. To take it a step further, we might be able to get other clubs involved (like Thessalon and Elliot Lake) and rotate from club to club. This would be awesome. Great way to spend a Friday night with your spouse or your pal, play some curling, have some food and socialize. More to come on this as well.


There is also talk of a rotating school league. That would indeed be quite the curling coup. Let's face it, young curlers are the future of the game.


And what about a reduced rate for new curlers for their first year. A lot of clubs offer this financial incentive and have been successful. I am in favour of this. The idea is to get people in the door and a financial carrot is always helpful.


Got ideas?! We want to hear them! One thing is for sure...we need to keep our membership numbers up and we need to be constantly thinking about getting new people to try out the game. Let's all work together to keep our club strong.


Keep an eye out for signs around town promoting curling. They will be up shortly. Talk to your friends. Try to get them out.


Keep an eye on this blog. I know it is summer, but I will be blogging twice a week for the summer months keeping you informed about what is going on at the BRCC AND ALSO what is going on in the curling world in general. Since I am in a different position on the board now, I will have more time to blog and keep you up to speed...and at the very least, provide you with some curling humour and wild, random thoughts.


Keep the Hack to Hack in your favourites...I look forward to entertaining you!


Still Rockin' On (and doin' some fishin' too)


The Curling Chronic

Friday, March 07, 2014

Last Day Of Regular Round Robin at Brier

Martin Crete of Team Quebec. Most likely choked on a tonsil a couple of days this week as he and his team look to scream their way into the playoffs. They are up 6 - 4 against Alberta's Kevin Koe as I type this. Me, being a die-hard Gushue fan, will require a loss by Team Quebec AND a loss by Saskatchewan for the Gush to make a tie breaker. With Gushue at 5 losses, the loss of Saskatchewan and Quebec would bring them also to 5 losses and force a tie-breaker. It seems to be a tall order. With Gushue's fate in the hands of James Gratten and Kevin Koe, all he can do is sit and wait for it all to unfold.

I had hoped to see Greg Balsdon and his Ontario rink beat Saskatchewan yesterday evening and he had a shot to do it in the 8th with a straight forward double for 4. He set it out and only scored one. That was the epitome of an anticlimax for me but that's curling....the game of missed opportunities.

Meanwhile, the Dominion Club Championships are being held at the BRCC this weekend. Play kicked off today. Two BRCC teams are in this regional playdown...Team Anita Moran for the ladies and Team Dave Mitchell for the mens. Good luck to both these squads.

Check out the BRCC this weekend for some good curling.

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Gushue's "Unbrier"

I know what you're thinking. What is a picture of a sinking ship doing on a curling blog? Well, metaphorically, that is the Gushue sinking ship. You will  notice that it is not fully under water yet but it sure is close to the point of no return. And so is Gushue. With 4 losses in the Brier, the NL squad is in tough. If not already too late, it certainly will be too late if this squad sustains any more losses. And to make matters worse, Gushue will be taking on Team Morris in today's first game. Morris is on a roll so the Gush will have to get it together!

I had hoped this was going to be Gushue's Brier. And no doubt, so did he. But, it may not happen this year. In the meantime, Alberta's Team Koe is looking good. And so is Stoughton but I expected them to be at the top of the leader board. And also no surprise, Morris is in a tie for first as well. The only real surprise here is the dismal showing of Team Gushue. I got an email from a Newfie buddy of mine yesterday, following the loss to Steve Laycock of Team Saskatchewan...to quote my longtime friend..."I am so over Gushue!"

Yes, it has been quite the roller coaster ride with the Gush. But, it's not over for him yet but he has alot of winning to do, moving forward.

Eddie MacKenzie (PEI) had some good games and has become a bit of a crowd favorite...the crowd always cheers an underdog. With relegation staring him in the face, Eddie etal will have to find a way to generate some wins and avoid that nasty business.

I am not a fan of the new relegation system. I think it will be discouraging for the weaker teams. Every province should be able to play in  the National Championship. To punish them undermines the whole spirit of the competition. My opinion is,  if it wasn't broken...why on earth would the CCA try to fix it. Sometimes, I think the CCA is comprised of non-curlers when I think about some of the decisions they make. They are supposed to be hellbent on growing the game...the introduction of the relegation system does little to do that and certainly may have a negative impact on the amount of teams wishing to participate in competitive curling.

So as 11 am nears, I am starting to bite my nails and harbor hope that the Gush can pull this one out. I said in the beginning of the Brier, Gushue's success will depend on the performance of Brett Gallant. I was so right...Brett has been struggling and Gushue (to his credit) had made alot of big shots to bail out the team. There comes a time when the big shot cannot be made and then the game can be lost. Brett Gallant is an excellent player and if he is able to pick up his game, then Team Gushue will be able to stop the Johnny Moe Express.

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic


Friday, February 28, 2014

Local Boys Make Good In A Canadian Gold Medal Week

BRCC's Team Villeneuve. After a 5 day run at the Northern Ontario Senior Mens Provincials, this squad turned out to be the third place finishers. With Bob Villeneuve at the helm, Glen Austin at vice, Terry Fryer at second and Dan Horton at lead...this crew had a pretty good run making it to the semi-final.  The winner of the provincials was the Rob Gordon rink from Sudbury defeating the Bruce Munroe rink (also from Sudbury) in the final. So what's to take away from all this? Well, on a personal note, I enjoyed playing with these guys. There were highs and lows and overall, and we handled both pretty well.

One thing is for sure. Play well and you can win. Miss a bunch of shots and it will bite you in the derriere.

Never say die. We came back from a 5 - 0 deficit to win a game in an extra. For me, this was the highlight of the week. Nothing sweeter than a "come - from - behind" victory.

Bob Villeneuve, in my humble opinion, made the shot of the week. He threw a very low percentage angle raise double takeout and stuck it. Miss it, and the game is out of reach. Make it, a an ensuing momentum shift takes place. That's the shot that I will remember. I should add that Bob was battling a sore knee and iced it between games...despite the discomfort, he played through it and had a very strong showing. Kudos to Bob for that.

And finally, if you want some post- curling competition, get Terry Fryer to fire up his I-phone and play the millions of tunes he has loaded on it and play a round of "Name That Tune". Great fun and Juha Cantavera (Soo Curlers) was a force to be reckoned with....but I think I held up the BRCC end very well.

In BRCC action, top team in the BRCC Ladies is Team Joanna Hammond with only one loss this entire season. Great job by these ladies (with Hayley Horton, Julia Horton and Tamara Behnke).

The Mens League just finished up regular season play. The top 16 teams will move on to the playoffs but there will be another flight for the remaining 5 teams. Playoffs begin Thursday, March 6 (I'm not sure if there are any playoff games on Monday, march 3 but I presume Westy will get hold of the skips). Kudos to the Molson Exers (Team Keith Rouselle) who have finished regular season play in a tie for second place with Team Al Viel. The Exers have had it together all season long...great job guys).

Congrats to Team Pat Dakin (with BRCC's Al Viel and Kelly Barry) for winning the A Event in the BRCC Mixed. I'm not sure about the B, C or D Event winners but I will post those winners in a later post.

Huge Kudos to Team Brad Jacobs (big plus for NO curling) and Team Jennifer Jones in winning double gold at the Olympics. Way to go in making Olympic Curling history!

The Brier starts this weekend. Yahoo! So, with Stoughton heavily favoured to win, here are my predictions:

Top 4 teams at the end of the week: Stoughton, Gushue, Morris and Koe. The final? Gushue vs Stoughton or Morris with Gushue winning it all! Yes, that's right. I'm giving it to Gushue. Not since Jack McDuff in '76 has a Newfoundland team won the Brier but Gushue has a tough squad and I am thinking this year is the year! I know what you're thinking....a biased prediction. Indeed it is. Admittedly, I'm a Gushue fan but they are a good squad and they have played well this year.

Other Brier participants include:

Eddie MacKenzie (PEI): Probably won't make the playoffs. Not enough exposure to the big teams.

Jamie Murphy (NS): Will not make the playoffs but kudos to this sqaud on a great win against former Brier winner Mark Dacey.

James Gatten (NB): Tough team and Gratten is a solid player. They have the potential to make the playoffs but they will have to bring it big time.

Jean Michel Menard (QC): A black horse in this competition. They are a real good team and also a former Brier winner. You never know with these guys...they might get on a roll and scream themselves into a playoff spot.

Greg Balsdon (ON): First Brier appearance. lots of experience playing against the big boys but I cannot see them getting to the playoffs.

Jeff Currie (NO): First Brier appearance. No real experience with the big boys. I hope they do well since they are a Northern Ontario team.

Steve Laycock (SK): Tough team with ,lots of experience on the WCT. Definitely potential to make the playoffs but once again, they will have to have their A Game all week long.

Jamie Koe (NWT/YT): Jamie is back for his umpteenth appearance. Could be a big surprise. He has lots of experience but can he bring it all week and get to a playoff? Time will tell.

So that's it...starting tomorrow it will be a week of the Brier. And my Gushue roller coaster ride will begin. Apparently, the Saturday night game is Gushue vs Stoughton. You can be sure I'll be watching that one! So, kick back and enjoy the ride at the Big Show!

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

China No Pushover

Liu......Who knew?......Quite the coup.......Is there anything he can't do?....For the Canucks, it was almost boo hoo.....what a crew!..... China grew!...almost upended the Soo!.....that game was a zoo!.....and we have to play them again too!....

Yes, the rhymes go on and on. What a game that was between Jacobs and Liu. Quite possibly one of the best games I have ever seen. It had everything...the highs, the lows...incredible shot-making, a fabulous come-back and in the end, a stupendous (is that a word?) shot by Jacobs for the win.

Who says there is no drama in curling? And guess what, they will go at it again in the semi-final (tomorrow). Great run for the Canucks as they win their first game, lose their next two and then win 6 straight to end up in a tie for second place. I am hoping beyond hope that they can get to the gold medal game but they will have to get by China who are one tough nut to crack.

I have been watching China's line scores all season long (WCT events) and they have been solid. They have won a few big spiels and placed well in others. I just knew they were one of the teams to beat and I was right. They have been fabulous. Bottom line....international curling is alive and well. But I digress....Team Jacobs have battled the nerves and have settled in to being the solid team that they are. Not surprisingly, they are in a semi-final in the Olympics. C'mon boys...bring home the hardware!!

And then there is Team Jones on the womens' side. They rolled to a perfect 9 - 0 finish and will play Muirhead in the semi-final. I have to wonder about the tournament set up. It just seems a little unfair to me. There is no reward for placing first in the round-robin play....as in the Canadian Page Playoff system. And to go undefeated through round robin play (Olympic curling history made there)...no reward for that either. Jones will now have to keep winning to get to the gold medal game. Lose the semi and she will be playing for bronze even though she would have only 1 loss. There is just something about that, that gets in my craw. C'mon ladies...keep it going!

In BRCC news, the senior mens Provincials will start tomorrow in Sturgeon Falls. Team Villeneuve (Bob Villeneuve, Glen Austin, Terry Fryer, Dan Horton) will be one of the 8 teams in this competition looking to represent Northern Ontario in the Canadian Nationals (in Yellowknife in March). Here's to hoping.....

Next week will mark the end of regular season play in the BRCC mens league. The top 16 teams will come out of this and head to the play-offs. The other 8 will also have games to play and they land in the B-flight.
Top teams include Team (Keith)Rouselle (the Molson Exers), Team (Dave) Mitchell (current club champions), Team (Bob) Villeneuve, Team (Al) Viel and Team (Glen) Austin.

I have no news for the BRCC Ladies standings but I will get to the club and report on that one in my next blog.

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic





Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Canadian Women Roll On In Sochi

Jennifer Jones. Rollin' along at the Sochi Olympics with an impressive 4 - 0 record thus far. This is the dream tournament for this well-decorated veteran and she looks intent on being golden. The Winnipeg Free Press wrote a heartfelt article about Jennifer and an interview with her mother and father. What an incredible thing it must be for a parent to see their child competing and doing well in an Olympic Games. And pretty anxious times as well. Especially when watching that nail-biter against Muirhead from GRB.

Team Jacobs has put themselves back on the upside with a win today (last night) against Russia. They are now 2 - 2 and hopefully will use that win to put some wind in their sails and get the momentum going.

The late and early hours of these games are tough on a working stiff. I've been watching the midnight games and then waking up at 5 am to watch the morning game. A true curling chronic indeed but man, by 5 pm, I need toothpicks to keep my eyes open. Nutsville for sure, but these are the Olympics and they only come around every 4 years. I am hoping that the next winter Olympics will be hosted in a location with a timezone that is easier to work with.

In BRCC womens' action, it looks like Team Anita Moran (with Joanna Hammond, Hayley Horton and Denise Hutchings) will represent the BRCC at the Dominion Club Championships in March. With a win over Team Lucy Ann Trudeau last night, Anita and her squad earned the berth into this event. For the men, it will be Dave Mitchell and his crew (Gator Fortin, Richard Olmstead and Scott Smith)...by virtue of winning the club championship last season. This event will be hosted by the BRCC so here's a good weekend to hang out at the club and watch some good curling as teams from all over the region will be here to compete. This event will go off March 7, 8 and 9. Save the date!

Rock On!

The Curling Chronic