Bonot gunning for the playoffs
By Lucas Punkari
After falling just one win short of qualify for the Page playoffs at last year’s Northern Ontario men’s curling championship in Sault Ste. Marie, the main objective for Stratton native Trevor Bonot is simple at this year’s event in Nipigon, which gets underway today.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs,” said Bonot, who now lives in Thunder Bay and skips his own rink out of the Port Arthur Curling Club.
“This year there are just three teams that are going to the playoffs instead of four, so we want to just get in there and have a great last two games,” he reasoned.
Following last year’s strong showing in the Soo, where his rink finished in a three-way tie for fifth with a 6-5 record, Bonot was looking to continue to build off that success on the cash ’spiel circuit at the start of this season.
With Al Macsemchuk returning at third, and a new front-end of Chris Briand (second) and Brady Trottier (lead), Bonot kicked things off with a bang in October with a runner-up finish at the Mac Ice Classic in Ottawa.
“We lost in the finals to Ian MacAulay of Ottawa, but we did pretty good in that event to start off the year,” Bonot noted.
“We were also able to beat former Brier champion Jean-Michel Menard in the semi-finals, and that gave us a lot of confidence going forward,” he added.
After that event, though, the Bonot rink began to struggle a bit, which led to a change in the lead position, with Trottier being replaced by Devlin native Mike Badiuk.
“Things weren’t working out with Brady structure-wise, and with the team in a slump, we felt that the lead position needed a change,” Bonot recalled.
“Having grown up with Mike back home, I knew that he was a great curler, so I shot him a text to see if he wanted to come aboard for a provincial run.
“It’s been a great move so far and he’s really fitting well into the team,” Bonot added.
Badiuk’s impact on the Bonot rink was evident at the NOCA West qualifier at the Port Arthur Curling Club in Thunder Bay on Jan. 11-13, where they finished in first place with a 4-1 record to nab one of the three berths at the provincial playdowns.
“That was our first weekend playing with Mike, and he helped the rest of the team to play well by just starting things off right at the lead position,” Bonot explained.
“We had one little blip in our game against Jeff Currie that cost us, but we were playing with confidence all weekend, especially as we got used to the ice and how we were throwing,” he added.
“Everything just worked out well for us.”
This season has seen the Bonot rink take a different approach to their game, which has included long-time curling coach Bill Charlebois providing his expertise.
“He’s very knowledge about the game and he’s really helped to change our outlook on the year,” Bonot noted.
“Our style of game has change a little bit more, and I’m taking a more balanced approach instead of having more of an aggressive style of play.
“It’s more of a growth thing for myself to help us have our best chance out on the ice,” he reasoned.
With all four players having been to the provincial playdowns in the past, in addition to Badiuk’s two appearances at the Canadian junior curling championships, competing against the top rinks in Northern Ontario is starting to become very familiar for the Bonot foursome.
“We still want to enjoy ourselves while we are there, but we are taking a business-like approach to the event this year,” Bonot stressed.
“We have been taking all the right steps this year, such as bringing in a coach and having a meal plan to make sure that we are doing what we need to do in order to play at our best.”
A total of nine rinks will be vying for provincial glory starting today, with Bonot’s first round-robin game slated for 2:30 p.m. (EST) against Matt Dumontelle of New Liskeard.
While the playdowns are expected to be tightly-contested, all eyes will be on Brad Jacobs’ rink from Sault Ste. Marie, which has won the last three titles.
“They are one of the top teams now on the World Curling Tour and they are the ones that everyone will be trying to beat,” Bonot said.
“They have a good team, but it’s curling and anything can happen,” he reasoned.
The round-robin is scheduled to wrap Saturday morning, with the final set to take place Sunday at either 9:30 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. (EST) depending on if any tie-breakers are required.
The winner of the provincials will go on to represent Northern Ontario at the Tim Hortons Brier, which takes place March 2-10 in Edmonton.