Provincial Men’s curling: Local curlers poised for championship

The B.C. Men’s Curling championship begins today at the Vancouver Curling Club with local curlers vying for top spot.

The B.C. Men’s Curling championship begins today at the Vancouver Curling Club with local curlers vying for top spot.

Trail’s Terry Bublitz will coach the team that includes son-in-law  Trevor Perepolkin of Vernon as skip, Castlegar’s Deane Horning as third, Armstrong’s Tyler Orme, second, and Trail’s Don Freschi, lead, and Kevin Nesbitt, fifth. The crew is primed and ready to knock off the top teams in B.C. and win a shot at the Canadian Brier championship.

“We feel great,” said Freschi. “We probably feel better than we’ve felt in many years.”

Freschi and Horning are veterans of numerous provincial tournaments, winning the 2005 B.C. title with Horning as skip and Freschi second. The Castlegar curler also won provincial championships in 2002 and 2003 with Pat Ryan.

The Perepolkin rink had a successful season playing in the Asham World Curling Tour this season, qualifying in all three events, including a semifinal loss in Red Deer. The team was in control but fell in a close 8-7 match to Kelowna’s Jeff Richard rink, the same rink Orme won a B.C. title with in 2010.

“Curling with the team we are curling with this year is excellent,” said Freschi. “We have a couple of young guys in T.J. (Perepolkin) and Tyler and a couple of what I call the older guys, with Deane and myself, so we have a ton of experience as well as the vigour of the young guys.”

The competition will be fierce, however, with 16 teams that includes last year’s champion Andrew Bilesky, grand-nephew of Trail’s Andy Bilesky, the Jim Cotter foursome (2011 and 2012 champion) skipped by John Morris who won an Olympic gold medal with Kevin Martin in the same rink in Vancouver in 2010, as well as former B.C. champions the Richard rink, Brent Pierce foursome, and the Dean Joanisse rink from Royal City.

Still the 51-year-old Trail native likes the team’s chances going into the five-day event.

“We definitely want to be in the top four,” Freschi said. “Looking at the money circuit (World Curling Tour) and how we did this year, there’s only two teams that did better than us, and that was Morris and Richard, but we were right there, so we feel pretty good this year – actually we feel really good.”

Men’s curling has become so competitive that teams are constantly looking for an edge, and picking up out-of-province curlers like Morris or joining forces with curlers from another area is becoming commonplace.

“It’s just the way it is now-a-days,” added Freschi. “It’s the reality of curling with the Olympics now. It’s not curling where it used to be four guys getting together to have fun, it’s competitive now and people are after that Olympic dream.”

The Tom Buchy rink from Kimberley also qualified and will compete with Nelson’s Fred Thomson as third, and Dave Toffolo and Darren Will as second and lead respectively.

The Perepolkin team faces its first test at 2 p.m. today versus the Jason Montgomery rink from Duncan. The first draw goes this morning at 9 a.m. in a triple knock-out Page Playoff format that culminates with Sunday’s final at 4 p.m. The final and Saturday’s 7 p.m. semifinal will be televised on Sportsnet.

The winner in Vancouver will move on to represent B.C. at the 2014 Tim Hortons Brier in Kamloops in March.

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