Colin Hunko closely watches the line of an approaching rock while rival skip Barry Evans looks over his shoulder during the C Final of the Bill Gurney Memorial Men's Open Bonspiel Sunday at Broughton Curling Club in Port McNeill.

Forester wins inaugural Bill Gurney Memorial bonspiel

PORT McNEILL-Longtime competitor from Nanaimo wins second A final in annual Broughton Curling Club men's open event

PORT McNEILL—Jim Forrester has been traveling from Nanaimo to compete in the Broughton Curling Club’s men’s open bonspiel for most of the 34 years it has been held, and skipped his rink to the bonspiel title in 2002

But Forrester admitted Sunday’s A final victory over the Port McNeill rink of Keith Balcke was particularly special, coming as it did in the first men’s open dedicated to the memory of longtime club member, volunteer and promoter Bill Gurney, who died earlier this year.

“I’ve been coming here for 30-some years,” said Forrester. “Bill and I had a lot of beers together. A lot of memories. This was awesome.”

Forrester’s rink included a fellow Broughton clubmate of Gurney’s, Doug Parke, along with Nanaimo curlers Keith Clarke and Ferdy Hobson.

The quartet quickly grabbed control of the final, snaring two points in the opening end and, after a scoreless second, three more in the third for a commanding 5-0 lead.

Balcke managed single points in the fourth and fifth ends to generate hopes of a comeback, but Forrester picked up singles in the sixth and seventh ends and drew handshakes when Balcke’s group, trailing 7-2, ran out of stones in the eighth.

Balcke’s father, Mike, fared better in the B final, winning without ever throwing a stone. Opponent Brad Zealand of Port Hardy’s Fort Rupert Curling Club was a no-show for the 11 a.m. start time. He and his mates arrived shortly before 1 p.m., after Forrester had retired to the lounge with his victory and as the C final was entering its final end.

“I thought it seemed too good to be true to have a 1 o’clock game; I just didn’t think to second-guess it,” said Zealand, who relied on the word of a teammate who checked the schedule before they departed Saturday night.

Mike Balcke’s rink included longtime partner Lee Mitchell, Bill Cessford and son Richard Balcke.

The C final pit Fort Rupert rivals Colin Hunko and Barry Foster in a see-saw match that came down to the next-to-last rock.

After the rinks traded single points through the first four ends, Evans notched a two-pointer in the fifth and added a point in the sixth for a 5-2 edge. Hunko parlayed his hammer in the seventh into a two-point pickup to make it 5-4 going into the eighth and final end, but his shot a the button with his final stone ran a bit too hot through the house and allowed Evans to pocket his hammer.

Evans was joined by third Brent Borg and the father-son sweeper tandem of Luke and Graeme Wiggins.

At Saturday’s dinner, the first Bill Gurney Memorial Sportsmanship trophy was awarded in a vote of the players to the Port Hardy rink of Dave Bjornson, which included Dennis Brown, Roy Chisholm and Lou Lepins.


Bill Gurney Memorial Men’s Open Bonspiel

At Broughton Curling Club

Dec. 2-4

A Bracket

Bjornson bye; Conley d. Janusz; K. Balcke d. May; Brad Aitken d. Zealand; Brent Aitken d. Forsberg; Hunko d. Symons; Forrester d. M. Balcke; Evans d. Baker.

Quarterfinals — Conley d. Bjornson; K. Balcke d. Brad Aitken; Brent Aitken d. Hunko; Forrester d. Evans. Semifinals — K. Balcke d. Conley; Forrester d. Brent Aitken.

Final — Forrester 7, K. Balcke 2. Third: Brent Aitken.

B Bracket

Quarterfinals — Bjornson d. May; M. Balcke d. Baker; Symons d. Forsberg; Zealand d. Janusz. Semifinals — M. Balcke d. Bjornson; Zealand d. Symons.

Final — M. Balcke d. Zealand, forfeit. Third: Bjornson.

C Bracket

Quarterfinals — Brad Aitken d. Forsberg; Hunko d. Janusz; Baker d. Conley; Evans d. May. Semifinals — Hunko d. Brad Aitken; Evans d. Baker.

Final — Evans 7, Hunko 4. Third: Baker.


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