Rob Armitage of the Pidherney Curling Centre in Red Deer calls a shot during the opening end of a game against Neil Garrish’s rink from the Inglewood Curling Centre during senior men curling action in Red Deer on Friday.

Veteran skip confident heading in to weekend

Blessed with a new knee, Rob Armitage now has a new lease on his curling life.

Blessed with a new knee, Rob Armitage now has a new lease on his curling life.

The Red Deer skip, an Alberta and Canadian senior men’s champion in 2012 and a world champ a year later, is in charge of one of 15 rinks competing in the Southern Alberta Curling Association senior men’s playdowns which opened Friday at the Pidherney Centre.

“I wouldn’t be playing now if I hadn’t undergone surgery (in August),” said Armitage, following an opening-draw 6-2 win over Neil Gerrish of Calgary Inglewood.

“I took two years off (of competitive curling) after we won worlds. My knee was just gone,” continued the veteran skip, who has 50-year-old Wade Thurber at third, Randy Ponich at second and Keith Glover tossing lead stones. “It doesn’t bother me now except it swells up once in a while. But I don’t know if that’s caused by curling because I still work for a living.

“I’m confident that I’ll be OK this weekend.”

Despite his knee problems Armitage continued to curl over the past two years, in a once-a-week men’s league at the Pidherney Centre. Following his surgery, he was back on the ice in mid-October and decided to take another shot at winning a provincial title.

The foursome practised regularly and warmed up for the southerns will a handful of games in January.

“It’s nice to be throwing rocks (in practice) but you need that game pressure to get your hands and fingers thinking together,” said Armitage.

His current rink is similar to his 2012 and ‘13 foursomes, the lone exception in personnel being Thurber. When the team captured the world crown, Glover was throwing third stones and Ponich and Wilf Edgar were manning the second and lead positions, respectively.

Edgar is currently skipping Rick Hjertaas’ Red Deer rink in the Southern Alberta finals. The other Red Deer entry is skipped by Lowell Peterman.

The SACA field is filled with familiar faces, including the likes of Ed Lukowich, Terry Meek, Wayne Heikkinen and Mickey Pendergast, all of Calgary, and Paul Gowsell of Airdrie.

“It’s a tough field, there aren’t a lot of pushovers here,” said Armitage.

The former Canadian and world senior men’s champ likes his team’s odds of grabbing one of the three available berths in the provincial finals, set for Feb. 17-21 at Coaldale.

“With this being on our home ice, I really like our chances,” he said. “I’d have to think we would be as co-favoured as anybody.

“The same goes for the other Red Deer teams. They’re going to be tough on their home ice.”

The Armitage crew is taking dead aim this weekend at earning a berth in the provincials and from there, who knows. There is a sense of urgency for at least three of the curlers, who are entering now-or-never territory.

“It would be great to experience some of the success we had three and four years ago. It was a fun time,” said Armitage.

“But it won’t be easy. The window for seniors doesn’t stay open for very long. Keith is 59 and Randy and I are 58. Keith will be eligible for masters next year and Randy and I the year after.”

Armitage advanced to today’s 10 a.m. A-event semifinals with a 3-2 win over Duncan Chisholm of Calgary in Friday’s evening draw. The Red Deer foursome will face Lloyd Hill of Calgary, who was a 9-1 winner over Blaine Zubot of Cochrane and later downed Bryan Hill of Airdrie 6-3.

Peterman will take on Lukowich in the other A semifinal after posting a pair of convincing wins — 6-3 over Gowsell and 8-2 over Meek in the 7 p.m. draw. Lukowich advanced with 5-4 and 6-3 victories over Ian Wolsey of Lethbridge and Tarance Zak of Calgary.

The Hjertaas foursome opened with a 5-4 loss to Chisholm, then defeated Gerrish 8-2 in a B-event contest.

The A final goes at 3 p.m. today, with the B-event provincial qualifier set for Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and the C-event final scheduled for Monday at 1:30 p.m.

Other scores Friday:

A event, 2 p.m. — Lloyd Hill 9 Zubot 1; Bryan Hill 7 Rick Bishop, Calgary 3; Meek 8 Scott Hellwig, Calgary 5.

B event, 7 p.m. — Bishop 7 Zubot 3; Gowsell 6 Wolsey 5.

Just Posted

Festival of Trees volunteers honoured at breakfast

This year’s Festival of Trees was able to provide the Red Deer… Continue reading

Two Red Deer filmmakers are finalists in web-series contest

Angel Peterson and Jason Steele are each creating pilot episodes with $20,000 prize

Sexual predator preyed on his own young daughter and niece

Eckville man sexually assaulted numerous children as young as two for nearly a decade

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

OTTAWA — Signs began to emerge Friday that the coming race to… Continue reading

Man who tried to kill Edmonton police officer, pedestrians sentenced to 28 years

EDMONTON — A man convicted of attacking an Edmonton police officer and… Continue reading

Drug bust: Red Deer RCMP seize drugs, cash, vehicles

Criminals are getting creative. Red Deer RCMP have seized cash and vehicles… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Thursday Join us at the Senior Center Downtown House (5414 43 St.… Continue reading

Rebels head into break with win over Swift Current

Red Deer has five wins in the last 7

Regina police say male driver dies at scene after collision with large truck

REGINA — Police in Regina are investigating a fatal crash in the… Continue reading

From fourth place, Singh says he’d rather push Liberals than work with Tories

OTTAWA — The New Democratic Party is sitting in fourth place after… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $31 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $31 million jackpot… Continue reading

Vancouver homeless camp brings community, safety, home, says resident

VANCOUVER — Standing out in the rain on a path between tents… Continue reading

Advocate says Winnipeg must tackle poverty, addictions to end violent crime

WINNIPEG — A recent spike in violent crime in Manitoba’s capital has… Continue reading

Grizzly bears move north in High Arctic as climate change expands range

Some unlikely neighbours are moving in around the northernmost communities of the… Continue reading

Most Read