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Paul Lefebvre - MP for Sudbury
REPerformance
Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2019
Dumontelle and the senior crew off to Thornhill for spiel play
2018-10-20
by Randy Pascal

Since pretty much the end of August, local curling rinks, most of the younger variety, have been hitting the road in search of early season competition. The highly experienced Curl Sudbury quartet of Robbie Gordon, Ron Henderson, Dion Dumontelle and Doug Hong did not the least bit compelled to follow those footsteps.

With four trips to nationals to their credit in eight years of playdowns in the senior ranks, there is not nearly as much learning to be done at this stage of their respective curling careers. “The storyline for us is that less is better,” acknowledged Dumontelle, this past Wednesday, at their home facility. “We only have two bonspiels lined up before our Senior Regionals this year.”

This weekend, the NOCA mainstays are joining the frey, taking part in the Thornhill Curling Club Senior Men's and Women's Cash Bonspiel. “We're playing against guys who are still competitive, but at the same stage of life as us,” said Dumontelle. “We're focusing on seniors (events), staying away from the young guys. We've settled in to that, and we're OK with that.”

And though they might not play as frequently as they did even as they first crested into the senior age bracket less than a decade ago, the wily veterans understand that there are still some changes in the game that require a little extra focus. The five rock rule for all playdowns leading to national championships, after all, will take a little getting used to.

“It's a little different game,” explained Dumontelle. “It's not so different when you have the hammer. It's different when you don't have the hammer and you're up, because they get that extra guard that you won't be able to remove. That might be it for my career,” he added with a laugh. “When the second is asked to play a tick shot, it's time for me to leave.”

After missing out on the Northern Ontario crown last year by the slimmest of margins, falling to Al Hackner on the very last stone, this crew know that their run of success is likely to be increasingly challenged, every year, moving forward. “Keeping the consistency is tough,” said Dumontelle. “As you get older, you're not as sharp.”

“There are game that we play like we are still thirty, and there's games that we play like we're in our fifties. There are going to be some misses. We still think that we are doing OK in the sweeping department. We're not necessarily as good as we were three to four years ago, but we are as good as most of the other senior teams.”

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“It's our first team practice tonight and we've played in four events already,” stated Jordan Chandler, that very same evening, at the historic club just up on the hill of Howey Drive.

Welcome to the reality of elite level curling in Sudbury. Teamed up, once again, with the squad of Sandy MacEwan, Luc Ouimet and Lee Toner, the Curl Sudbury reps have come awfully close to matching the early schedule of the young guns this fall.

“We front-loaded the schedule to try and get into the Tier II Slam on points,” explained Chandler (more on that in just a moment). Despite falling just short of hitting the qualifying standard they were aiming for, this crew that is hoping to mount another serious run at the juggernaut that is the Brad Jacobs rink out of Sault Ste Marie, finds itself still quite upbeat with the bulk of the winter still ahead.

“Mentally, we're mature and we're doing well with that part of the game,” said Chandler, providing an assessment of the team's play to date. “We're not throwing the rock real well, but we haven't had a chance to practice and kind of bounce that off each other. We're not losing games by a lot, despite how much better we feel that we can still throw the rocks. Some good practices in the next few weeks should make a huge difference.”

Those workouts will come in extra handy, considering the fact that the Manitoulin Transport sponsored Team Chandler earned a regional representative berth at the upcoming Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling Tour Challenge stop in Thunder Bay from November 6th to the 11th. Participating in the Tier II bracket, the Curl Sudbury rink are not the least bit awestruck taking to the ice in an event that will include the majority of the best teams in the country.

“We generally play better against the top teams,” said Chandler. “Playing against experienced skips, you can kind of anticipate what they are going to do. A lot of the teams that are there, we've already played. And all of those teams we are playing throw the rock well, so it's easier to read the ice.”

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Team Chandler won't be the only local flavour to the upcoming Slam bonspiel. On the ladies side of the draw, both Tracy Fleury and her Manitoba team will be present, in the Tier I side if the draw, as will Krista McCarville and her foursome that includes Sudbury vice Kendra Lilly.

In terms of Tier II participation, we are hearing that the red-hot Kira Brunton junior women's rink (Megan Smith, Sara Guy, Kate Sherry) could well join both the Chandler grouping, as well as the Tanner Horgan men's rink (Mark Kean, Jacob Horgan, Maxime Blais) in competition just one level below the likes of Brad Gushue, Kevin Koe and 2018 Olympic gold medallist, John Shuster, from the United States.

“We don't get into the Slam events that often,” noted Lilly this week. “We don't play as much as we need to play to get into a lot of those events. I think it will mean a lot to friends and family to see us in action.” And for those who would like to see the talented local curler a little more often, throughout the upcoming year, Lilly has another option in mind.

The Lockerby Composite graduate was selected as one of the dozen elite female curlers who lent their support to the fundraising efforts of the “Women of Curling” calendar, 2019. “That's just not me at all,” said Lilly with a smile. “I don't like being the center of attention, even just having my picture taken is tough. But now that it's done and to be able to raise money for a really good cause, I would do it over in a second.”

Lilly is the poster-child for the month of October, with the proceeds of every calendar that she sells ($20/each) going directly to the Alzheimer Society Sudbury-Manitoulin North Bay Districts. Calendars can be purchased at either Curl Sudbury or the Idylwylde Golf & Country Club, or by contacting Lilly directly via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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