BREWER, Maine — Brewer’s Shawn Morrison is hoping his home lanes will give him and his USA East teammates an edge in seeking their third straight title when the World Team Candlepin Bowling tourney begins at the Bangor-Brewer Bowling Lanes Tuesday morning.
The B-B Lanes features a shorter approach on each alley than other facilities and visiting bowlers have to adjust, Morrison said.
“Other guys will have to get their timing corrected. You just can’t go into any alley and just start bowling,” Morrison said. “Guys will start standing on tape and trying to remember the different boards. For me, it’s automatic.”
USA East, a team of bowlers from Maine and Massachusetts, has beaten Massachusetts team Lucky Strike Lanes two straight years in the tourney final. The event features the best candlepin bowlers in the New England states and Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with 14 New England teams and 10 Canadian.
Bowlers warm up for the tourney with a singles knockout that begins 11 a.m. Monday. Team bowling in two 12-team divisions then starts Tuesday, with each team competing in three three-string daily matches until the playoff rounds begin on Friday. The semifinals and finals follow on Saturday.
Morrison has enjoyed another strong singles season leading up to the team tourney, as he has collected his second straight titles in the Maine championship and the International Candlepin Bowling Association championship.
USA East also features a strong core of competitors with new teammate Tim Matero of Rockland and Massachusetts bowlers Chris Sargent, Dave Godwin, Brian Mayer and Ed Tringale.
Nate Nealey, a Maine native now living in Florida, has returned to compete with USA East and is at the B-B Lanes preparing.
“Nate flew back to help us defend our title. He’s throwing strings to get back in shape after playing a lot of golf. It’s the same good hand-to-eye coordination [for both sports],” said Morrison, who added that both Nealey and Sargent are scratch golfers.
The team also will be backed up by Charlie Milan III, the tourney founder and member of the Maine Sports Hall of Fame. The 76-year-old Milan, who also owns the B-B Lanes, is the only bowler to compete in all 27 tourneys.
Morrison expects USA East to be challenged again by Lucky Strike along with A+ Accounting of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Massachusetts team 20th Century Lanes, formerly Maria’s Sub. MacLaughlin T&T of Halifax, which dominated the tourney with four straight titles from 2002-05, could also return to title contention with a spark from new bowler Troy Dunphy.
Other Maine teams that will be competing include Big 20 of Scarborough, featuring former state champ Brian Purdy; Local Flavor of Saco, led by Scott LaPierre; and Hobbs Lucky Lanes of South Paris, paced by owner Evan Hobbs and James Milan, Charlie Milan’s son.
The first-place team wins $10,000, with $5,000 to second place and $2,500 each to the next two teams.
USA East needs to be consistent to defend its title, Morrison said.
“It’s all about staying healthy, not giving away points, not getting too comfortable and easing up against some teams we might not get hyped up for,” he said, adding that his team will be vying for first place in its division to gain a bye to the semifinal round.