Curlers ready to rock
By Steve Whiting
The cold ice, frantic yelling and mind-pressing strategies of curling will engage Western this weekend when both the men's and women's squads travel to the frozen battlefields of Waterloo's Westmount Curling Club.
There they will take part in the first of two round-robin tournaments that will decide the top six Ontario university teams that will compete in the playoffs.
The women's team is led by experienced and successful skip Susan Keeling who was recently a finalist at the Canadian Women's Junior Curling Provincial Championship. Head coach Bruce McAninch is optimistic the combination of Keeling's leadership and the quality practice time the team has enjoyed, will undoubtedly help them finish in the top six and earn a playoff birth.
The women's team enjoys outstanding depth which poses a problem since only six of the nine members on the team will be able to travel to Waterloo, including skip Keeling, vice Robyn Wilson, second Heather Hanbly, lead Cathy Konopelky and alternates Carri Mooij and Ivy Cook.
Even though only six players can go to the tournament, McAninch stressed that any of the nine would make a formidable force. "I could use any combination of women in the tournament and still have a solid team," he said
For a team which failed to make the playoffs last year, this year's squad possesses a modest goal. "Our simple goal this season is to make the playoffs," Keeling said.
The men's curling team, under head coach Scott McDonald, is hoping to accomplish more than a mere playoff spot, but are looking for a top-four finish. The five-man team is led by skip Heath McCormick, vice Dennis Belanger, second Mike Hamer, lead Jeff Balsdon and alternate Brent Gray.
The team is coming off an undefeated exhibition tournament in late November at the same site of this season's first tournament in Waterloo.
McDonald would not predict another undefeated tournament this weekend, saying it was simply, "too hard to tell who would win."
When asked about which teams he felt they should be looking out for, he said he really didn't know. "The teams change from year to year," McDonald said. "But I am confident we'll finish in the top [six] this weekend."
McCormick also feels confident about this weekend's action. "We could win every game," he said. "But at the very least three out of four for sure."