There are so many really good young curling teams in Manitoba and four of them are in Portage this week competing at the 2017 Viterra Provincial Men's Championship.
Braden Calvert qualified for the Safeway Championship playoffs in 2015 in Brandon and lost out to two-time world champion Jeff Stoughton in the 3-4 page playoff game. He took that momentum from the provincials and brought home gold from the World Junior Championships.
Matt Dunstone won the Provincial and Canadian Junior Championships and then faced Mike McEwen in the final of the 2016 Viterra Championship in Selkirk. Dunstone captured bronze at the World Juniors.
J.T. Ryan won the 2017 Provincial Junior and lost out in a tie-breaker at the Canadian Championship in Victoria.
Ryan lost his opener in Portage Wednesday afternoon falling 8-6 to Hayden Forrester who they beat in the semifinals of the Provincial Juniors.
“I was really looking forward to getting out there and playing,” said Ryan on their opening day loss. “There were no nerves. Just tried to treat it like another bonspiel. We just didn't play our best.”
As for playing a fellow junior in his Viterra debut.
“I was a little disappointed,” Ryan said. “There are 32 teams in it and I'll finally get to play some variety and then I get the draw and I'm playing Hayden again for probably the 10th time this year. Would have liked some diversity but what can you do.”
Ryan, Jacques Gauthier, Graham McFarlane and Brendan Bilawaka lost their last two round robin games in Victoria and then dropped an 8-7 extra end decision to Matthew Hall of Ontario in the tie-breaker.
That ended Manitoba's run of three straight Canadian Junior Championship victories.
“Still disappointed,” said Ryan. “Would have liked to have done a little bit better but you got to move on. This is another big championship and we want to represent ourselves well so we're not going to harp on the past too much.”
Ryan, Forrester, Dunstone and Calvert are skipping solid teams in Portage.
The reigning provincial junior men's champion is impressed that so many young talented curling teams are making a statement at the Provincial Men's Championship.
“It's pretty cool,” Ryan said. “I really haven't thought about it too much yet because I'm still pretty focused on juniors. I still got a few years left there. It is nice seeing all the guys your playing in juniors and you have good games against them and then they come out here and then they play well against the men's team's too."
Terry Braunstein, Ron Braunstein, Ray Turnbull and Jack Van Hellemond rocked the Grand Old Game's hierarchy known as the Manitoba Curling Association when they won the 1958 British Consols.
That's because Terry Braunstein was 18 years-old, Ron Braunstein and Ray Turnbull were 17 and Jack Van Hellemond was 16 years of age when they captured the Provincial Men's Championship.
And come to think of it - Kerry Burtnyk won the 1981 Tankard and the Brier at the age of 22.
Can the youngsters win again?
Welcome to day two of the Viterra Provincial Men's Curling Championship.
2017 Viterra Provincial Men's Curling Championship
@ Portage la Prairie
Thursday, February 9th
Draw #5 8:30 a.m.
Matt Dunstone, Deer Lodge vs Randy Neufeld, Portage
William Lyburn, Granite vs Hayden Forrester, Fort Rouge
Jason Gunnlaugson, Granite vs Sean Grassie, Fort Rouge
J.T. Ryan, Assiniboine Memorial vs Jim Renwick, Brandon
Howard Restall, Fort Rouge vs Kyle Foster, Arborg
Draw #6 12:15 p.m.
Mike McEwen, Fort Rouge vs Kelly Marnoch, Carberry
Daley Peters, East St. Paul vs Trevor Loreth, Granite
Dennis Bohn, Assiniboine Memorial vs Taylor McIntyre, Pembina
Reid Carruthers, West St. Paul vs Richard Muntain, Pinawa
Braden Calvert, Deer Lodge vs David Bohn, Assiniboine Memorial
Draw #7 4 p.m.
Derek Oryniak, Granite vs Shaun Parsons, Thompson
Graham Freeman, Virden vs Ray Baker, Dauphin
Draw #8 7:45 p.m.