Friday, August 29, 2014

Badiuk to face Ontario’s best

There might be some undetected four-leaf clover sprinkled in Mike Badiuk’s DNA.
The Devlin native certainly has been a good-luck charm to any skip he teams up with in recent years.

Badiuk, who now lives in Thunder Bay and plays second for Dylan Johnston, will be heading to his fifth Northern Ontario curling championship at either the junior or senior level after qualifying for The Dominion men’s provincial showdown Feb. 5-9 in Timmins.
Johnston beat Stratton native and fellow Thunder Bay resident Trevor Bonot 8-2 in seven ends of the ‘B’ final at the Travelers 2014 men’s West qualifier here Sunday to become the fifth different skip Badiuk has accompanied to the provincials during his career.
“I wouldn’t say it was an easy game,” Badiuk said about the win over Bonot.
“We had a few breaks and took advantage of them.
“The ice was tricky [Sunday] compared to the rest of the weekend,” he added.
“It was slower and inconsistent so we had to adjust.”
Johnston scored two in the second before giving up one in the fourth, then nabbed two in the fifth to lead 4-1 at the break.
Bonot notched a single in the sixth but it was handshake time after Johnston put up a four-ender in the seventh.
“Overall, I thought we played well during the weekend although not quite to our full potential,” said Badiuk, who was teammates with Johnston when the two were part of the silver medal-winning rink at the 2009 Canadian junior men’s championship.
Badiuk actually played on Bonot’s team last year at the provincial playdowns as a
replacement for one of his regular members.
“It’s never easy going up against your former skip,” conceded Badiuk.
“I’m pretty good friends with all those guys and I’ve known Trevor a long time,” he added.
“He was one of the first people I ever curled with. He taught me a lot.”
Johnston beat Ben Mikkelson (Thunder Bay) 6-4 in his opening game Friday before being dumped 10-7 by Bryan Burgess (Thunder Bay).
On the ‘B’ side, Johnston downed Dan Lemieux (Sault Ste. Marie) 6-1 in five ends, then edged Mikkelson in a rematch 7-6 to qualify for the ‘B’ final.
Badiuk is confident going into what should be a wide-open provincial showdown due to the absence of reigning four-time Northern Ontario titleist, defending Brier champ, and last year’s world championship silver-medalist Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, who will be focused on representing Canada at the Olympic Games in Sochi in February.
“I think our chances are pretty good,” said Badiuk.
“It’s going to be interesting, for sure,” he added. “With Jacobs out of the picture, it’s going to be just like this event, where anyone can beat anyone.
“Every one of these teams is pretty good,” Badiuk stressed.
“It’s going to come down to who’s hot, and who picks up on the rocks and the ice first.”
Meanwhile, it was a case of bad luck coming in threes for Bonot, who had a trio of cracks at a provincial berth but came up short each time.
After beating Lemieux 7-2 in eight ends in his first game Friday, Bonot took down Brian Adams Jr. (Thunder Bay) 7-4 to earn a berth in the ‘A’ final on Saturday.
But Burgess rallied from a 4-2 deficit after three ends to beat Bonot 9-5.
After the loss to Johnston in the ‘B’ final earlier Sunday, Bonot faced his last opportunity in the ‘C’ final that afternoon against Adams Jr.
But the offence ran dry at the wrong time for Bonot as Adams Jr. used steals of two in the fourth and sixth ends to secure a 5-2 win in seven ends to nab the final qualifying spot.
Adam Bolen, another Stratton native and the lone Fort Frances Curling Club rep at the event here, had a short and not-too-sweet stay in the competition.
Bolen, who is now based in Thunder Bay, lost his opening draw 11-6 to Jim Cummine (Sioux Lookout), giving up a steal of three in the 10th to end it.
Then with a 5-4 lead after seven ends against Lemieux in his second game, Bolen watched the Soo crew escape with a 7-6 triumph by scoring one with last-rock advantage in the 10th.
Down to his last life, Bolen fell behind Cummine 6-2 after surrendering steals of two in the fourth, one in the fifth, and one in the sixth.
Refusing to go quietly, Bolen charged back with a pair in the eighth and a critical steal of three in the ninth to up 7-6.
But Cummine embraced the hammer in the 10th, scoring a deuce to eliminate Bolen 8-7.

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