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Yukon tops P.E.I. to open Brier pre-qualifying round

It took Bob Smallwood 20 years to return to the men’s national curling championship and although he’s not yet in the main field for the 2015 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by SecurTek Monitoring Solutions, he and his Yukon teammates took a positive first step Thursday evening at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Yukon skip Bob Andrews delivers rock during his win over P.E.I. on Thursday night. (Photo, CCA/Michael Burns)

Yukon skip Bob Andrews delivers rock during his win over P.E.I. on Thursday night. (Photo, CCA/Michael Burns)

Smallwood, along with teammates Wade Scoffin, alternate Scott Odion playing for Steve Facteau, and Clint Ireland, jumped into a 4-0 lead after two ends and went on to defeat Adam Casey of Prince Edward Island 8-1 after seven ends in the first game of the pre-qualifying round robin.

“It relives a little bit of pressure, getting that first win,” said Smallwood. “We’ll see if we can carry on the momentum for tomorrow morning’s game.”

Smallwood scored two in the first end, stole a pair in the second, gave up one in the third, got that back in the fourth and then stole singles in the next three ends before hands were shaken.

P.E.I. skip Adam Casey struggled in his pre-qualifying round opener. (Photo, CCA/Michael Burns)

P.E.I. skip Adam Casey struggled in his pre-qualifying round opener. (Photo, CCA/Michael Burns)

Casey, whose teammates Josh Barry, Anson Carmody and Robbie Doherty didn’t arrive in Calgary until Thursday because of flight problems out of P.E.I. (Casey arrived on Monday), struggled early and were never able to cut into the Yukon lead.

“I came out and struggled a bit so I’ll take the blame,” said Casey, who was at the Tim Hortons Brier last year playing with Brad Gushue’s Newfoundland-Labrador team. “The first couple of ends got away from us but the guys played okay. Good thing is 1-1 is okay as long as we have a draw to the button. Hopefully we can look back at this and it doesn’t make much difference.”

Smallwood represented the Yukon/Northwest Territories at the Brier in 1994 and 1995 under the name Robert Andrews. He changed his surname in 1999 in honour of his grandmother whom he considered his number one fan.

TSN/RDS2, the official broadcast partner of the CCA’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the Tim Hortons Brier, leading to the gold-medal game on March 8 at 5 p.m.

The winner of the 2015 Tim Hortons Brier will represent Canada at the Ford World Men’s Championship, March 28-April 5 in Halifax, in addition to qualifying for the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup in Grande Prairie, Alta., the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup in Las Vegas and the 2016 Tim Hortons Brier in Ottawa

For ticket information, go to www.curling.ca/2015brier-en/tickets/

This story will be posted in French as soon as available at http://www.curling.ca/2015brier-fr/