We are just a few days away from the 2023 Manitoba Viterra Curling Championship. The action begins on February 7 in Neepawa, and the winner will represent the province at the Tim Horton's Brier Canadian Men's Championship.
Team Hyde is the lone group of the 32 that hails from Portage. Skip Ryan Hyde says he's excited to be back at the Viterra.
"It's been a few years now but myself, Kenny Keeler, and Hartley Vanstone, we've played (in the Viterra) numerous times over the last 15 years, and it's going to be nice to get back," Hyde explains. "For a couple of our members, Ryan Brooks and Trevor Munro, this will be their first provincial curling event."
Hyde notes this iteration of the team is in its first year together but he adds all the members have played together at various points throughout their curling careers. The skip says they've enjoyed a pretty successful season to this point.
"We had a different version of the team play in the provincial curling club championships early in the fall in Winnipeg. We had some good competition there and finished in the middle of the pack," Hyde continues. "We played in the regional playdowns to qualify for the provincials down in Pilot Mound and played well there. We only had to win two games to get a spot but it was tough competition there, so we were happy with how that day went."
The skip adds most of the team doesn't have as much time to get out to bonspiels as much as they'd like to do to families and work commitments. However, he says the squad currently plays in a Southern Manitoba-based cash league, with playoffs kicking off today. Hyde says they will be using these playoffs as a warm-up for the Viterra.
In the past, Team Hyde has been ranked near the bottom of the 32-team pool, and the skip doesn't expect that to change this time around.
"We've always had some tough competition out of the gate. We've given some teams some scares over the years and managed to win a couple of games a few times," says Hyde. "You'd have to win three or four games to get out of your quarter if not five. So, the goal would be to win three or four games and get out of the group of eight teams. Then it becomes a double-knockout eight-team bonspiel and gets pretty serious. We've never made it to the final eight before."
Hyde shares it's much more fun to be at these events with your friends, and he couldn't be happier to be playing alongside this group. Team Hyde will play their first game of the five-day tournament on Wednesday, February 8, at 8:30 a.m. against Team Grassie.