Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bull's-eye on national champions

Northern Ontario rink up for Players 'spiel

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TORONTO -- As national champions, Ryan Fry knows the opposition will be gunning to beat his Northern Ontario rink at this week's Players' Championship.

He teamed with skip Brad Jacobs, second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden to win their first Tim Hortons Brier last month and they followed it up with a silver medal at the world championship. They're well-rested now after a whirlwind month and will be one of the favourites at this week's season-ending Players' Championship at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

The next goal for the Northern Ontario side is qualifying for the Olympic trials -- the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings -- in December.

Jacobs can lock up a berth in the eight-team men's event with a victory. He also has a chance to qualify if he doesn't reach the final, but it depends on the results of other rinks this week.

Ontario's Glenn Howard, Alberta's Kevin Martin and Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton have already qualified. Three more spots -- based on the Canadian Team Ranking System standings -- will be finalized this week.

The final two berths will be awarded at the pre-trials competition in November at Kitchener, Ont.

Edin, Howard, Martin, Stoughton are all in the field for this week's competition at the former site of Maple Leaf Gardens. There are 15 men's teams and 15 women's teams entered, with play to begin Tuesday night.

Fry practised on his own Tuesday at the five-sheet facility. His teammates were scheduled to arrive in the evening ahead of their opening game Wednesday afternoon.

The women's field is as deep as the men's competition.

World champion Eve Muirhead of Scotland is one of the headliners, along with national champion Rachel Homan of Ottawa and veterans Jennifer Jones of Manitoba and Heather Nedohin of Alberta.

Jones secured direct entry into the women's draw of the Olympic trials with her win at the 2011 Canada Cup. Saskatoon's Stefanie Lawton won that event last year to secure her spot and Nedohin locked up a berth by leading the CTRS standings last season.

A combined event purse of $200,000 is on the line at this week's bonspiel. An additional Grand Slam combined bonus of $200,000 will also be awarded.

Preliminary-round play continues through Friday. The quarter-finals and semifinals are on tap Saturday and the finals are set for Sunday.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 17, 2013 D5

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