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Provincial curling championships underway on Manitoulin

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There is a lot on the line this week at the Northeast Manitoulin and the Islands Recreation Centre as the 2024 Northern Ontario Curling Association (NOCA) provincial championship continues until Sunday.

The winning men’s team will go on to represent northern Ontario, wearing the green and gold at the Montana’s Brier in Regina. The winning women’s team will represent the north at the Canadian Scotties in Calgary.

“We have a vast geography and teams are coming in from all over the place,” said NOCA executive director Laura Forget.

“We also have lots of import players so there’s actually going to be players here from Manitoba, from southern Ontario, New Brunswick, so all over the country trying to represent northern Ontario.”

Forget said one of the nice things about going to smaller communities is meeting curling fans.

“They might not necessarily curl themselves but there will be tonnes of people here this week that love to watch curling and they’re going to put on a great show for those fans,” said Forget.

The slogan that they use is ‘Fear the Moose,’ and Forget said the jacket design has been coveted by many other provinces.

“This is a deep field with a lot of provincial champions and they’re all looking to get back to the show as we say,” she added.

Local realtor Jordan Chandler will be looking to make a return to the brier. He’s the skip for Team Chandler and is playing on home ice.

'Home ice is great'

“Home ice is great, especially playing with my brother in the curling community that I grew up in, it’s just been amazing,” Chandler said.

“It’s (Manitoulin curling) really crazy. We have five clubs, it’s a really nice curling community and a lot of involvement within our clubs.”

One of the first signs you see crossing over the bridge is a sign in front of the beloved eatery ‘3 Cows and a Cone’ welcoming curlers to the island.

Stores and businesses have been busy welcoming the influx of visitors to Little Current.

Debbie Turner owns Turner’s Department Store, a five-generation, family-run shop marking its 145th year in business.

She’s having a sale this week in honour of the tournament.

“We’re just so happy to have all of these curlers coming from all over northern Ontario. It brings lots of new faces to the community and we’re hoping everyone has a great time and, of course, we’re cheering on our local guy Chandler,” she said.

The Little Current Curling Club has been streaming much of the action on its Facebook page.

Trophy presentations are scheduled for Sunday.

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