The 12-team event will act as a qualifier for the SaskTel Tankard, with teams earning Provincial Team Ranking System points. The top eight ranked teams as of Dec. 22 will earn automatic Tankard berths, with the final four spots advancing out of a Last Chance spiel during the Jan. 7 weekend.
There are plenty of rinks with local connections to cheer for.
Leading the way is defending Moose Jaw SCT champion Brent Gedak, third Jason Ackerman, second Derek Owens and lead Curtis Horwath out of the Estevan Curling Club.
Gedak, Ackerman and Owens were part of the string of Moose Jaw provincial junior champions out of the Hillcrest Sports Centre in the late 90s and early 2000s. Gedak and Owens played for Brock Montgomery’s championship-winning crew in 2000 while Owens and Ackerman suited up for Steven Scott and his title-winning team in 1999. Ackerman and Owens were also on Joel Jordison’s provincial champions in 1996.
Montgomery himself will be playing third for Regina Highland’s Kelly Knapp, who will have Mike Armstrong at second and Trent Knapp at lead.
Ben Gamble and his Regina Highland foursome of third Braydan Mohns, second Tyler Krupski and lead Rory McCusker are all regulars in the Original 16 Cash League at the Moose Jaw Ford Curling Centre; Brett Behm and his team of third Brendan Ross, second Daniel Mutlow and lead Ian Howell are the lone team curling out of the local rink.
And then there’s Team Howard.
That would be none other than Canadian curling legend and current TSN analyst Russ Howard, who will skip son Steven’s Regina Highland foursome of third Daniel Selke, second Mat Ring and lead Scott Deck this weekend. Russ now lives in Regina, having moved to the city this past May to be closer to Steven -- who works in Fort McMurray but has a girlfriend in Regina -- and daughter Ashley, who is the executive director of CurlSask.
The tournament will feature a host of COVID-19 related rules for fans.
Only 30 will be allowed in the building, and will have to watch the action from the upstairs lounge, with fans asked not to arrive at until after the draws have started. Fans will have to sign in at the door in order to facilitate potential contact tracing.
Action begins at 5 p.m. on Friday, with Gedak facing Regina Highland’s Samuel Wills, Howard dueling Highland’s Shane Vollman and Behm facing Canora’s Rob Zuravloff.
The rest of the first round begins at 5:30 p.m., as Gamble takes on Highland’s Rylan Kleiter, Regina Callie’s Joshua Bryden duels Knapp and Regina Callie’s Dustin Woloschuk takes on Fox Valley’s Ryan Deis.
Round robin competition will continue throughout the weekend, with the playoff round beginning at 9:30 a.m. Sunday and the championship final tentatively at 4:30 p.m.