‘It just takes one game’ Third-seeded Team Wiebe confident of chances at men’s provincial curling championship
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Ryan Wiebe has learned there are some perks to having a hockey historian such as Ty Dilello on your team.
The 22-year-old skip out of Fort Rouge Curling Club, third Dilello, second Sean Flatt, and lead Adam Flatt were in Tempe, Ariz., last weekend for the Ed Werenich Golden Wrench Classic. While down south, Dilello scored the group a round of golf with Brian Mosienko — the son of Manitoba hockey legend Billy Mosienko.
Brian, who is one of Billy’s three children, moved to Arizona more than a decade ago. Dilello, an accredited writer with the International Ice Hockey Federation and member of the Society for International Hockey Research, published a book last year called Mosienko: The Man Who Caught Lightning In A Bottle.
Dilello, 29, has penned eight hockey books over the years, with his most recent title Mr. Winnipeg — The Ab McDonald Story hitting the market last month.
“He’s always writing articles and doing research and stuff like that. He knows people in seemingly every single town,” Wiebe told the Free Press on Wednesday.
“On the road, we’ve even stayed at the houses of kids of ex-NHL hockey players. He’s well connected and it’s cool to see.”
Dilello does, however, put his teammates to work sometimes.
“Ryan was in Comox, B.C., over Christmas and ironically, I was chatting with the family of a old goalie from the New York Americans, a defunct (NHL) franchise back in the 1930s,” said Dilello.
“They had these massive scrapbooks full of photos and newspaper clippings. There were eight or 10 of them and they weighed like 50 pounds. They were hesitant about mailing them at first, so, Ryan went over to their house when he was in town, grabbed two of them and carried them back on the plane with him.”
“He’s always writing articles and doing research and stuff like that. He knows people in seemingly every single town.”–Skip Ryan Wiebe on teammate Ty Dilello
There will be no time to flip through scrapbooks next week as the Wiebe rink will be one of 32 teams in Neepawa for the Manitoba men’s provincial curling championship (Feb. 7-12). On Tuesday, Curl Manitoba revealed the top five seeds for the event and Wiebe was slotted in at No. 3. To no one’s surprise, Matt Dunstone is ranked first, followed by Reid Carruthers. Corey Chambers and Braden Calvert round out the list.
While upstart Wiebe will be an underdog, he’s proven he can play under the bright lights. They made it all the way to the semifinal last year, eliminating Jason Gunnlaugson in the process, before losing a 10-9 heartbreaker to eventual winner, Mike McEwen. In 2020, despite only being 19, Wiebe finished men’s provincials in fifth place.
Wiebe doesn’t have an impressive junior resumé like most of his competitors on the circuit, but he’s quickly established himself as one of the most talented skips in the province.
“We didn’t have many junior accomplishments and I think that’s exciting for us. We kind of went under the radar in juniors. We weren’t world champs, we weren’t even provincial champs. So, I think for us, we’ve kind of got a chip on our shoulder,” said Wiebe, who’s been playing with the Flatt twins since they were all 11.
“Nobody really knows us from juniors so it’s really exciting to see how far we’ve come.”
How they rank
Top 5 teams at the 2023 Manitoba Men’s Curling Provincial Championship (Neepawa, Feb. 7-12)
#1 Seed: (Fort Rouge) Matt Dunstone, B.J. Neufeld, Colton Lott, and Ryan Harnden
#2 Seed: (Morris) Reid Carruthers, Derek Samagalski, Connor Njegovan and Matt Lorenz
#3 Seed: (Fort Rouge) Ryan Wiebe, Ty Dilello, Sean Flatt, and Adam Flatt
#4 Seed: (Fort Garry) Corey Chambers, Daley Peters, Julien Leduc, Brendan Bilawka, and Michael Martin
#5 Seed: (Fort Rouge) Braden Calvert, Kyle Kurz, Ian McMillan, and Rob Gordon
Dilello joined Team Wiebe late last season due to second Zack Bilawka injuring his knee. Dilello saw a lot of promise in Wiebe and the Flatts several years ago and hoped to one day have an opportunity to play with them. When a spot opened up, he jumped on it.
“They’re so young and I can’t believe that they’re this good. Like when I was 21, I stunk compared to them,” said Dilello. “Their potential is through the roof… And Ryan is just so good. He’s probably the closest to Jeff Stoughton that I’ve seen, just like technique wise and his slide reminds me a lot of Jeff. And the way he throws, he’s only going to keep getting better. I’m very excited to follow his development over these next couple of years.”
That doesn’t mean they’re not a force to be reckoned with currently. Wiebe is ranked 10th in the Canadian Team Ranking System and has qualified for the playoff round in six of eight events this year. They won the Mother Club Fall Curling Classic in September and reached two other finals later in the season.
Despite the impressive ranking, they’ll likely have to win the province in order to make it to their first Brier. It’ll be an uphill battle as they’re a combined 0-3 against Dunstone, the second-ranked team in the country, and Carruthers, ranked fifth, this season. No matter what happens in Neepawa, Dunstone and Carruthers can fall back on one of the three wild-card spots — a luxury Wiebe does not have.
“At the end of the day, it just takes one game,” said Wiebe. “You put us in a provincial final and you never know what could happen.”
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of...