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March 31, 2004

Top deaf teams ready to rock, roll

From: Ottawa Sun - Ottawa,Ontario,Canada - Mar 31, 2004

By JOE PAVIA, Ottawa Sun

The Canadian Deaf Curling Championships will be making noise in Ottawa April Teams from across the country will be competing at the RA Centre in men's (nine teams), mixed (five rinks) and senior men's (four teams) events.

This is the 26th national deaf curling championships, the third time it was been hosted in Ottawa.

Committee member and founder of the Ottawa Deaf Curling Club Dan Wojcik said in a sign-interpreted interview that the rink won't be quiet during play.

While it is the deaf curling championships, some hearing-impaired players -- like Russ Howard -- can vocalize.

On the men's side, much like the Brier, Manitoba has been the powerhouse, claiming the top spot 13 times.

In this round-robin section, all but three jurisdictions are playing -- not present are the Territories, PEI and Newfoundland.

Wojcik said that one favourite to triumph is Quebec's Mike Raby, who plays many of his games in Ottawa.

Raby has won the event twice, but has competed for the last 15 years.

"I'm motivated and waiting and proud to wear Quebec's colours," signed Raby. The local team of Andre Guillemette, Roch Cote, David Morton and David Joseph represents Ontario.

On the mixed side, Ontario, B.C., Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Alberta take to the ice. The Manitoba squad is expected to be tough. Les Sicoli, who is also a committee member and a skilled curler, is skipping for Ontario.

The event chairman, Bruce Ullett, is the Ontario senior men's skip, while Wojcik throws second. Joining this province are B.C., Alberta and a host team. Ontario is the favourite.

The event operates with lots of sweat equity, especially with many of the organizers competing. More than 100 people are volunteering their time. The Canadian Curling Association provides some seed money, but the athletes must pay their own expenses, including travel and accommodations.

Draws begin April 4 at 2 p.m. and continue daily at 9 a.m., 1 and 7 p.m., except for April 5 when there is a 6:30 draw. Tickets are $10 daily at the door. For more information, call (613) 623-0742 or TTY (613) 828-8199.

TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM: Matt Paul has confirmed that he will be joining Bryan Cochrane's rink as second. Jenn Hanna has had to recruit a new third. Joelle Sabourin found out last week that some new work commitments won't allow her to devote as much time to competitive curling as she had hoped. Sabourin will be the fifth player, while Pascal Letendre takes over regular third duties. Letendre moves over from Cheryl McBain's rink. Jennifer Day replaces Letendre. No confirmations from Quebec, but Jean-Michel Menard feels there will be little if any movement within that province's teams for next season.

RECENT WINNERS: North Bay's Jamaica 'spiel was won by Menard last weekend. The team of Emily Au, Laura MacAskill, Lauren Delcourt, Alyssa Stals and coach Steve Au is this year's Little Rocks champion.

MERK TOUR: Former Ottawa curler and ice technician Dave Merklinger will be visiting Ottawa in May. A party is planned for Saturday, May 22 at the Ottawa CC.

THIS WEEK IN CURLING: Beginning today until April 4, the top 18 cash teams on the tour meet in the PharmAssist Players Championship in St. John's, Nfld. Top prize is $40,000. Rogers Sportsnet carries the quarter-finals at 2:30 on Saturday. The semi-finals and finals run at noon and 4 respectively. Jeff Stoughton is the defending champ.

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