Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Boehmer the best to never be the best

Provincial men's title eludes him

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He is, arguably, the best Manitoba curler never to win a provincial men's title.

And, realistically, that's not likely to change.

Dave Boehmer's best curling years -- and there were some great ones -- are probably behind him now and the 45-year-old Petersfield card player/horse player/all-around-gambler will in all likelihood just have to accept that a Purple Heart was the one wager he won't be able to cash.

It's a fact of life Boehmer seems mostly to have come to accept, even as he spends this weekend chasing one of the six berths into next month's Manitoba men's provincial curling championship up for grabs in the 123rd MCA Bonspiel.

Regrets? He has a few, sure. "Not so much that I never played at the Brier," Boehmer says, "but more that I just never made a really good run at a provincials.

"I must have played in close to 20 of them over the years -- high teens for sure. You'd think at some point I would have lost a final or something. But it just never seemed to work out for some reason. That's what bugs me most."

Actually, those provincials gone by are the No. 2 regret on Boehmer's list this week. The first one is much more meaningful.

"I wish I'd had a chance to sit down with Pat just one more time," Boehmer says of former teammate Pat Spiring, who died last Monday from cancer. "He was such a great guy.

"You'd sit down at a table after a game with Pat and he would just bring this whole aura of happinesss with him. He'd literally take over a table. He was such a great storyteller and he just had this way with words.

"Everybody loved Pat. And everybody knew him. You'd be at an event and there'd be all these European guys and they'd all know him too. He was just like that. You really can't help but think about life without him in the curling world now."

Boehmer curled three seasons with Spiring in what were the most productive years of curling for both men. With Boehmer at skip, Spiring at third, Richard Daneault at second and Don Harvey at lead, the foursome were part of the elite teams who boycotted the Brier for two years to get the fledgling Grand Slam money circuit off the ground.

That Boehmer team was consistently among the top money earners on the cash tour in those years and had they not been part of the Brier boycott, you have to wonder if those might not have been the years that Boehmer finally got that elusive men's title.

The five years since have seen Boehmer curl a much less ambitious schedule. He won his only provincial title two years ago when he claimed a Manitoba Mixed championship, but as a men's curler he has been mostly sticking closer to home and changing teams almost yearly. It is not the schedule or approach that will get him a provincial title against the likes of such elite teams as Jeff Stoughton and Mike McEwen, who will be overwhelming favourites to win the province in Beausejour.

And Boehmer knows it.

"I really notice now that I'm not as sharp as I used to be, just because I'm not doing it as much," says Boehmer. "And I've got back problems that don't help either. My delivery was never straight to begin with and it's even crookeder now."

Stoughton says Boehmer was one of the province's great shooters when he was at his best, but lacked the all-around game that the game's most elite players have. "He was great with the high-hard ones and he could draw too," Stoughton says.

"But when it came time for those little finesse shots, where you have to tap a rock back three feet, that was something I noticed he sometimes struggled with. And that's just one of those shots you have to have at the highest levels."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 22, 2011 D3

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