Hometown Team Freeman curled a good show for the fans in three games at Tundra Oil & Gas Place for the men’s provincial Viterra championship last week.
Skip Graham Freeman, Lead Dwayne Barkley, Second Cory Barkley and Third Kevin Barkley played in the opening draw Wednesday, winning 6-4 over another hometown interest, Team Kelly Marnoch with Branden Jorgensen as Second.
“We knew we’d have that shot of energy behind us, which we did.”
Freeman played early Thursday against Team Jason Gunnlaugson (Morris) ranked 10th in Canada. For Cory Barkley said, “I think we had a little bit of confidence, having won our first game, and having beat [Gunnlaugson] last year in Winkler. Plus, we’re the home team, we knew we’d have that shot of energy behind us, which we did.”
In 10-ends of play Freeman held his own until Gunnlaugson scored a four-point end in the ninth to win 8-1.
“Getting down 4-1 that late in the game, we had to gamble. The score probably wasn’t indicative of how close a game it was really.”
Thursday evening Freeman faced Team Irwin (Brandon team with Hamiota’s Brooks in second) losing 11-3, conceding the game after the sixth end.
“We knew it would be a really tough game. Irwin qualified in the final four in this event last year. He’s won multiple Super League titles. I’d say they are probably the best team in Westman.”
Freeman teammates are no newbies to Provincial championship play. “I’ve played in 14 men’s provincials, Graham 12, Dwayne 13, and Kevin has played in five.”
Barkley said, “Playing in front of the home town crowd was more than we could have asked. Having everyone behind you was overwhelming.…”
Throughout the early games, many teams conceded after the sixth end.
Barkley reasoned, “I don’t know that I’ve seen an event, especially in men’s where there were so many blow-outs. Part of that could be … the five-rock guard zone is new this year.” In previous years the first four rocks in the free guard zone couldn’t be taken out of play, this year’s change affected the strategy of the game.
Commenting on the exciting final game, Barkley said, “I was definitely cheering for William (Lyburn). I played with him one year in this event.
“After [Lyburn] got three in the seventh end, I though maybe [Carruthers] was going to crater. But they didn’t, they played like champs.”