Jennifer Jones and Gordon Hudson rinks top Manitoba Curling lists

Canada skip Jennifer Jones (right) Dawn McEwen, Kaitlyn Lawes (left) and Jill Officer (back) celebrate after winning the gold medal during Olympic final curling action against Sweden at the Sochi Winter Olympics Thursday in Sochi, Russia. Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press

The people have spoken with their wallets and a panel with their picks — the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame and Museum is only too happy to share the final results in the quest to select Manitoba’s most notable curling teams.

MCHoF&M President Peter Nicholls revealed the top six choices of the ranking committee during a media zoom call Tuesday, and the number one ranking went to the Jennifer Jones teams of 2005-2020.

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“Over 80 per cent of our ranking committee chose Jennifer Jones teams over the past 15 years as the most notable team in the history of curling in Manitoba,” said Nicholls during the news conference.

“Jones, with a few personnel changes over the years, has dominated curling in our province, and perhaps the world.”

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The numbers would certainly back that up as Team Jones has won eight Manitoba championships, six Canadians, two World titles, and one more championship that really stands out on that list according to Nicholls.

“Undoubtedly the crowning achievement was the 2014 Olympic Gold Medal where Jones — with Kaitlyn Lawes, Jill Officer, and Dawn Askin-McEwen — went undefeated.”

McEwen said via text, “It’s such a privilege to be recognized in your sport, and to be named most notable in Manitoba is such an honour for our team. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be on a team that has accomplished so much. I’ve been constantly inspired by my teammates and feel very fortunate to have played with such talented and dedicated athletes.”

And Lawes added “Our Province has such a rich history in curling, so it is an honour to be included on a list of Manitoba’s most notable teams. It has been a privilege to be on the Jennifer Jones team for a decade, and be part of the team’s journey.”

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The accomplishment of the Don Duguid rink going undefeated back-to-back in the 1970 and ’71 Men’s World Curling Championships earned the number two spot on that list while Kerry Burtnyk capturing a World title on home ice in Brandon drew the other “podium” finish, so to speak.

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Rounding out the top six were Jeff Stoughton’s 2011-15 teams, Gordon Hudson’s 1928-29 Strathcona Club Brier champs, and the Connie Laliberte teams that captured two Canadian Women’s titles as well as bronze and silver medals at the 1992 and ’95 World Finals respectively.

You can check out the full list of the top 25 teams here.

The Hudson rink finished at the top of another list, as well. Since Oct. 1, the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame and Museum had also been asking curling fans, friends, and family to participate in a People’s Choice Fundraiser to select their most notable team of all time.

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“We started this ‘notable 150 teams’ project in tribute to Manitoba’s 150th birthday,” said Resby Coutts, Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame & Museum vice president and fundraising chair, during the Tuesday zoom call.

“We did have visions of a huge event to kick off the curling season this year. We were going to invite representatives of all these great teams we’ve been celebrating throughout the past year.”

But of course, COVID-19 threw a wrench into those plans.

For a minimum donation of $10, any fan could cast their ballot and the proceeds would be used to fund current and future MCHoF&M projects. Voting ended on Sunday, Dec.13 and the Hudson rinks of nearly a century ago earned the most donations with just over $1,400.

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“This was a unique fundraiser for the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame and Museum, a tremendous cause to be involved in,” Gordon Hudson’s grandson, Gordon said in a news release. “Curling occupied such a huge portion of dad’s life, and obviously that of his father too. I guess the competitive nature of the Hudson’s had to have the Hudson Team finish No. 1. I know Dad (Bruce) would have expected it!”

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The Kerri Einarson 2020 Canadian Women’s Championship rink wound up second, followed by Team Jones. In all, $8,350 was raised and will be put to good use according to Coutts.

“We’ve committed to put at least half of that into our foundation which is managed by the Winnipeg Foundation,” Coutts explained. “It’s eligible for $1 for each $2 matching from the Manitoba Heritage Trust. So it has been, and is going to be, a very nice bump for our foundation.”

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