Safeway Championship draws near


By: Lanny Stewart

Preparation continues for this year's Safeway men's provincial curling championship in Neepawa, which takes place Feb. 6-10.

Event chairperson Ray Drayson says everything seems to be coming along smoothly for the five-day event at the Yellowhead Centre. He says he's pleased with the approximately 170 volunteers thus far who have signed up to help out.

"They're (volunteers) all lined up and ready to roll almost," said Drayson. "It's nice to have that many but we could always use more. You can never have too many volunteers."

Neepawa's Jerry Chudley and his team of Kevin Cooley, Brent McKee and Paul Robertson secured a berth at the event by reaching the competitive division final at the Brandon Men’s Bonspiel on Sunday.

He joins Neepawa's Kelly Robertson and his squad as the two hometown teams at the Safeway event.

"I see we've got a couple of local rinks, so that's going to help out attendance hopefully," said Drayson with a smile.

There are currently 28 teams that have qualified for the 32-team event. Chudley and Robertson join a plethora of solid curlers from the province that will be taking part, including 2011 World champion Jeff Stoughton, defending champion Rob Fowler, Mike McEwen, Terry McNamee and William Lyburn.

The last four Safeway berths will come from the 125th MCA Men's Bonspiel in Winnipeg. The massive 448-team event begins later this week and wraps up on Monday.

Tickets for the Safeway Championship are available in Neepawa at Gill and Schmall Agencies and Harris Pharmacy. A week-long ticket is $100, while day passes are also available and are $25 each.

Socials lined up

Drayson says the Safeway event will have a social with a live band on Friday and Saturday night at the Yellowhead Centre. Social tickets are $10 each.