Up-and-comers lapping up experience
Darryl Prebble and his team came into the Dominion Tankard as virtual unknowns. Half of the skip’s team has never been to a provincial championship. But they continue to soak in the experience. Team Prebble faces Team Howard in Thursday night’s 7 p.m. draw at the Barrie Molson Centre. MARK WANZEL PHOTO
This week has been a new experience for Team Prebble.
The young squad came into the 2013 Dominion Tankard as an underdog and relative unknown, as half of the rink has never even been to a provincial championship before.
So far, though, they’ve loved the experience.
“It’s been awesome,” said lead Dennis Lemon. “We’re kind of relying on the skipper to kind of settle the nerves a bit and get us into it, but the ice has been fantastic, the venue is amazing, and the organizers have done a great job.
“So whatever happens in the win-loss column, it’ll be a great week,” Lemon added.
It hasn’t been the easiest go of things so far, as Team Prebble sits well below .500 and are a longshot to reach the weekend.
But they got the all-important first win out of the way on Tuesday afternoon, coming down to the final shot before beating Howard Rajala 8-7.
“It’s a really good feeling (to get the first one),” said skip Darryl Prebble. “Compared to the rest of the field, we’re a more inexperienced team.
“We’re just trying to get our feet wet.”
Both Lemon and third Denis Belanger are in their first-ever provincial event, while second Mark Koivula was here in 2005.
Prebble comes in as the “veteran” of the squad, having been to the Dominion Tankard three times as either a lead or a second.
“There’s a bit of a familiarity with the event that I can bring when I’m talking to the guys,” Prebble said. “They rely on me to make sure that they don’t look stupid or anything.”
Instead, that designation risks falling to Prebble, as he plays in his first provincial championship as a skip.
“It’s a different animal, that’s for sure,” Prebble said. “The last two years, I played with world-class players (in Peter Corner and John Epping), so you always had that feeling that if you screwed up, someone’s got your back.”
“When you’re skipping, that’s it,” added Prebble with a laugh. “You miss and it shows up on the scoreboard immediately.”
But on the flip side, he’s also had the opportunity to throw some game-winning shots, including one against a former skip to get Team Prebble to Barrie.
“(Darryl) made a fantastic hit-and-roll in the last end to beat Corner (in the qualifying ‘B’ final),” Lemon said. “The couple of shots to finish it off has been the difference in us getting here this year.”
For Lemon and Belanger, this is their first opportunity to play on a stage like this.
“I didn’t think there would be as many nerves,” Lemon said. “It’s a little different, playing in the arena where everyone is sitting out there and watching you.”
Team Prebble is getting to be part of what its skip considers the “rock star” experience.
“The players in Ontario have nicknamed this event ‘the show’ for a reason,” Prebble said. “This is the premier event in Ontario, and when you come here, you feel like a million bucks.”
Of course, the audience plays its part in there as well.
“It’s neat competing in a venue like this,” Prebble said. “You’ve got people cheering, and ooh-ing when you miss, but clapping when you make the shot, too.
“I can’t stress enough how much fun that is.”
But on the ice, it’s all business.
“There’s a lot less joking than you’d find at a cashspiel, less talking, and less inter-team camaraderie,” Prebble said. “Everyone thinks they’ve got a chance to make the playoffs, and they’re fired up.
“You can hear it in the line calls, in the strains and urgency of their voices, so for sure, this is a different animal.”
Despite a six-end, 9-3 loss to Team Epping in the Wednesday afternoon contest, Team Prebble has shown no fear to any opponent.
“I think everyone here thinks they can win,” Lemon said. “If you go out there scared to play or planning to lose, then you’re here for the wrong reasons.”
So with that in mind, they’ll be ready to go in their only Thursday game, a 7 p.m. draw against the seven-time defending champion Team Howard.
“We look forward to it,” Lemon said. “The pressure’s on them, and if we lose, no one’s going to be really surprised.
“But we’re going to throw everything at them, and try to have a close game.”
For information about the Tankard, visit www.ontcurl.com.
Dominion Tankard draw schedule
Sheet 'A' — Howard vs. Higgs
Sheet 'B' — Tuck vs. Deruelle
Sheet 'C' — Rumfeldt vs. Frans
Sheet 'D' — Rajala vs. Ferris
Sheet 'E' — Epping vs. Cochrane
Sheet 'A' — Frans vs. Ferris
Sheet 'B' — Epping vs. Tuck
Sheet 'C' — Higgs vs. Cochrane
Sheet 'D' — Howard vs. Prebble
Sheet 'E' — Rumfeldt vs. Deruelle
Sheet 'A' — Cochrane vs. Prebble
Sheet 'B' — Rumfeldt vs. Epping
Sheet 'C' — Ferris vs. Deruelle
Sheet 'D' — Frans vs. Rajala
Sheet 'E' — Higgs vs. Tuck
Sheet 'A' — Deruelle vs. Rajala
Sheet 'B' — Higgs vs. Rumfeldt
Sheet 'C' — Prebble vs. Tuck
Sheet 'D' — Cochrane vs. Howard
Sheet 'E' — Ferris vs. Epping
Midnight — Tiebreakers (if required)
9 a.m. — Tiebreakers (if required)
2 p.m. — Page game or tiebreakers (if required)
5:20 p.m. — Special OIympics provincial final
7 p.m. — Page games
9:30 a.m. — Semifinal
2:30 p.m. — Final