With a “Northwestern” crown already under their belt, Bryan Bonot’s rink now has their sights on an even bigger task.
A provincial title.
And why not? Bonot’s foursome of third Terry Lee, second Ron Martinuk, and new lead Ted Stewart (taking over from the injured Ken Noble) were the class of the “Northwesterns” last week in Thunder Bay.
They finished in top spot with a 4-1 record—and earned one of the two berths to the Northern Ontario playdowns Dec. 17-19 in Kirkland Lake.
Ken Kozmenski (Dryden) secured the other berth Saturday with a 6-5 win over Larry Waytowich (Fort William).
“Everybody curled well, they seemed to come together,” said Bonot, in his first season curling at the senior level. “I was really happy the guys curled well . . . we had a good idea we would do well.”
Curl well they did.
Bonot’s rink reeled off four-straight wins to nail down first place in the six-team field. They opened action last Thursday with a 7-4 victory over Finn Willman (Red Rock) and later downed Kozmenski 8-6.
They escaped with a 10-9 extra-end win over Waytowich, then eked out a 7-5 win over defending provincial senior champ Gary Ball (Thunder Bay Country Club).
Bonot’s foursome lost their final game 8-7 to Paul Donaldson (Manitouwadge), letting an early 3-0 lead slip away, but it didn’t affect the final standings.
The key for the foursome, playing together for the first time this year, was limiting their mistakes and capitalizing when the other rink gave them an opening.
“We curled pretty good and we came together but we made the shots when we had to,” said Martinuk, making his first appearance to the senior provincial showdown.
“If one guy had a bad shot, the other guys picked him up and we were able to capitalize on the other team’s mistakes,” he noted.
“Everyone came through with key shots when we needed them,” echoed Lee. “Against Waytowich, especially, Bryan made some excellent shots.”
Granted, the rink—made up of two players from Stratton and two from Fort Frances—brings a wealth of experience and talent to the ice, particularly Bonot, who competed at the provincial men’s championship here a few years ago.
They’ve practically seen it all in their years of curling.
“He’s always played competitive curling—he just doesn’t get rattled,” Martinuk said of Bonot.
“He’s got lots of experience, he’s always been around pressure,” agreed Lee. “I don’t think [pressure] bothers him. He’s used to pressure.”
Now, the local foursome will have to get used to the pressure of playing for a provincial title—and a berth at the nationals. But they’re confident they have a shot at winning.
“We’re sure hoping so,” said Lee. “We were playing with a rink that was already there before.”
“That’s what we’re shooting for,” added Martinuk. “It’s my first kick at the cat. It’s what I’ve been waiting before.”