THEY are old friends who know how to play hard and have fun. Members of the Joel Hildebrand team from Deer Lodge decided on a fruit snack at the fifth-end break on Wednesday night at the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club.
"We were fighting over a cookie (last year) and they gave us a warning for it but then our third last year got a sportsmanship award!" laughed Hildebrand, 19, whose team this year includes third Josh Claeys, second Scott Peterson, lead Graham Wilson and coach Murray Peterson.
The Hildebrand team was having another great day when the team won the Curl Manitoba 8-ender Christmas Bonspiel on Wednesday after defeating La Salle's Kyle Curtis 8-2 after six ends.
The bonspiel began in 1940 as the Manitoba Schools Bonspiel and is one of the oldest junior (under-20) bonspiels ..in Canada.
"I've been to Bs and Cs before so it's kind of nice to finally be in an A-side final," said Hildebrand. "There (were) a few big teams in this so it's nice to get there and know that we can do it."
The girls' 8-ender Christmas Bonspiel winner was the Shannon Birchard team of Pembina Curling Club, which defeated Alyssa Vandepoele of Ste. Anne 7-3 in nine ends. The two teams had a hard-fought battle that was especially taxing on the Vandepoele team that played most of the game with just three players after lead Lindsay Baldock was forced to stop due to illness.
The youth division of the bonspiel was decided earlier in the day when Colin Kurz of East St. Paul defeated Kyle Thiessen of Assiniboine Memorial 7-5. Kurz's team included third Weston Oryniak, second Joey Hondz and lead Brenden Bilawka with coach Darren Oryniak.
One berth for each of the girls' and boys' events in the provincials is set for Jan. 6-10 at Victoria C.C. for the girls and Gimli for the boys, was decided Wednesday.
Birchard and her team of Heather Maxted, second Kelsey Resler, lead Meagan Grenkow, fifth Amy Agnew and coach Colin Grenkow earned the girls' berth. Tanner Lott and his team of third Tyler Envik, second Wade Ford, lead Chris Sigurdson, fifth Curtis Granger and coach Kathy Janisch of Petersfield winning the boys' berth.
"The pressure was on for us, for sure it was! We struggled through zones and berth (earlier bonspiels) so this was our last chance here at this bonspiel (to qualify for provincials," said Birchard, 16, whose team pulled ahead with three in the eighth end.
"It is a really fun bonspiel to win because this is one of the oldest junior bonspiels in Manitoba and a lot of teams play in it so it's really nice to win it."
There will be a six-team playoff today for both the boys' and the girls' divisions to decide two more provincial berths for the girls and one more for the boys. Games are 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club.