2014 Tim Hortons Brier
Presented by SecurTek

Roach sets hot early pace in Ford Hot Shots competition

New Brunswick second Darren Roach was nearly perfect with his shot making Friday to lead the field after the preliminary round of the 2014 Ford Hot Shots competition.

Team Ontario goes to work during the preliminary round of the Ford Hot Shots skills competition on Friday.

Team Ontario goes to work during the preliminary round of the Ford Hot Shots skills competition on Friday.

The 27-year-old air systems cleaning specialist scored 29 of a possible 30 points to lead the eight shooters who advance into the quarter-finals. Other advancing are lead Dallan Muyres of Saskatchewan (26), lead Robert Borden of Northwest Territories/Yukon (25), third Kirk Muyres of Saskatchewan (24), second Colin Koivula of Northern Ontario (23) and tied at 22, leads Geoff Walker of Newfoundland-Labrador and Jamie Childs of Northern Ontario and third Mark Bice of Ontario.

Canadian Curling Association director Warren Hansen said it’s only about the third time in the 20-year history of the event that anyone has scored 29 points.

“Everything happened the way I wanted,” said Roach, who missed a perfect score on the tap-back shot.

“Boys swept it too much so I’m going to give all the blame to them,” he said with a smile. “Give them the one chance, tomorrow there’s no reason to do that.”

The quarter-finals, semifinals and final will be held Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. ET.

The annual competition sees curlers attempting six different shots: hit and stay, draw the button, draw the port, raise, hit and roll, and double takeout. Points for each shot are awarded on a scale of zero to five depending on the end result.

The winner Saturday receives a two-year lease of a 2014 Ford Fusion, 2.0l AWD with EcoBoost, an approximate retail value of $15,300.

Roach currently drives a company car “so I wouldn’t mind having a two-year lease on that, be kind of nice,” he said looking at the Fusion parked at the end of the ice.

The runner-up receives $2,000 and the third-place finisher $1,000.

Roach’s skip, James Grattan, scored just 17 points and the only skip above a 20 score was Jim Cotter of B.C. with 22. He was one of six tied with 22 and he lost out on the closest to the bottom measurement.

“Nice to see a second do better than the skip,” said Roach. “I think the skips get all the credit, they’re always in the fame and the seconds are always just known to be the sweepers and don’t get much credit.”

But skips are supposed to be the ones with all the shot-making ability, aren’t they?

“Yeah, supposed to be. Guess he’s saving it for the real games, eh?” chuckled Roach.

The competition has been held annually since 1995 and past winners at the Brier are Greg McAulay and Pat Ryan of British Columbia, Alberta’s Don Bartlett, Randy Ferbey and John Morris, Saskatchewan’s Steve Laycock, Manitoba’s Steve Gould (twice), Northern Ontario’s Mike Coulter, Ontario’s Ed Werenich, Craig Savill and Richard Hart, New Brunswick’s Rick Perron, Jeff Lacey and Marc LeCocq, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Mark Nichols, Ontario’s Glenn Howard and Wayne Middaugh, and last year’s winner, Marc Kennedy of Alberta.

All draws for the Tim Hortons Brier that begins Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET will be televised live on TSN/RDS 2, the official broadcasting partner of the Season of Champions.

Live scoring will be available at: www.curling.ca/scoreboard/?e=19

To purchase tickets to the Tim Hortons Brier, presented by SecurTek, go to: www.curling.ca/2014brier-en/tickets/

The French version of this story will be available at www.curling.ca/2014brier-fr/ as soon as possible.