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Three-way playoff tonight for final berth in provincial curling championship

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It was a confusing and controversial Monday morning at the MCA Bonspiel but when the smoke settled, two more berths into next month’s Manitoba mens curling championship had been awarded and a three-way playoff ordered for the final remaining berth still up for grabs.

Carberry’s Rob Van Kommer and Fort Rouge’s Steen Sigurdson became the 30th and 31st teams to earn berths into the Safeway Championship in Neepawa without even playing a game today, while a three-way playoff involving East St. Paul’s Rob Atkins, West St. Paul’s Dave Elias and Petersfield’s Dale Lott will take place tonight to determine the final berth.

It took all of this morning for officials at MCA Bonspiel headquarters to sort out the confusing results of Sunday evening’s late draw and determine that both Sigurdson and Van Kommer had already earned berths regardless of what they do on the ice today and that the three-way playoff would be necessary for the only other berth.

Curl Manitoba executive director Shane Ray explained the complication was the result of a false result which was reported late Sunday night in a Lucerne major event game between Fort Rouge’s David Kraichy, whose team already have their Safeway berth, and Atkins, who is still looking.

Ray said the Kraichy team won the game on the ice but -- because they were unable to play today -- submitted a scorecard showing Atkins had won the game instead so that the Atkins team could continue to play on.

While false results are not supposed to be reported, it is not entirely uncommon at the MCA Bonspiel for winning teams who know they won’t be able to continue to play on to submit losing scorecards to headquarters to allow their opponents to continue to play.

But because the bogus result in this instance had a direct bearing on who claims the final three provincials berths up for grabs today, Ray said Curl Manitoba insisted on the correct result being recorded when they learned today a false one had been reported last night.

"We found out about it and said, ‘That’s unacceptable,’" said Ray. "I don’t think it’s acceptable that you play a game, you win on the ice and then you let the other team get credit for the win -- especially when it’s for a berth and affects other teams."

If the result had been allowed to stand, Atkins would have been automatically awarded the berth that will come out of the Lucerne event today, instead of having to play for it in the playoff tonight.

The ruling also meant Sigurdson and Van Kommer automatically claimed the two remaining berths today that were due to go to the highest finishing Free Press event team and the highest finishing remaining team in either major event that was berth eligible.

Atkins will now have to play for the Lucerne berth against the winner of a playoff game between Lott-Elias. Those games will take place tonight at Fort Rouge Curling Club.

Curtis Atkins, who is the son of Rob Atkins, plays on the Kraichy team that filed the bogus result to headquarters Sunday night, but Ray said he doesn’t think there was anything sinister at play.

"This wasn’t a conspiracy. This was just some guys who knew they couldn’t play today for whatever reason," Ray explained. "A lot of times when these things happen, it’s not this big of a deal. But with the magnitude of this situation, this was the right thing to do."

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