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P.E.I. to take on Yukon for final Tim Hortons Brier berth

Adam Casey of Prince Edward Island stole four in the fourth end Friday en route to an 11-3 win over Glen MacLeod of Nova Scotia to give his team a chance to get into the main draw of the 2015 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by SecurTek Monitoring Solutions, at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

P.E.I. skip Adam Casey, left, guides sweepers Robbie Doherty, left, and Anson Carmody during Friday's win over Nova Scotia. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

P.E.I. skip Adam Casey, left, guides sweepers Robbie Doherty, left, and Anson Carmody during Friday’s win over Nova Scotia. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Casey and teammates Josh Barry, Anson Carmody, Robbie Doherty, alternate Robert Campbell and coach Lincoln Peters will play Bob Smallwood of the Yukon at 1:30 Saturday, with the winner advancing into the main draw of the Brier.

It’s the first time in Brier history that pre-qualifying has been held. The three provinces with the worst combined won-lost records in the three previous Briers played for the right to join Team Canada and the 10 other provinces in the main draw.

That meant P.E.I., Nova Scotia and Yukon played a single round-robin with the two teams with the best records advancing to today’s play-in game.

Nova Scotia players, from left, Glen MacLeod, Colten Steele and Rob McLean assess their situation. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Nova Scotia players, from left, Glen MacLeod, Colten Steele and Rob McLean assess their situation. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

P.E.I. had lost the opening game Thursday 8-1 to Smallwood but Nova Scotia then outscored Yukon 9-5 Friday morning, setting the stage for the all-Maritime match.

After splitting their games Smallwood, Wade Scoffin, Scott Odion, Clint Ireland, Steve Fecteau and coach Bill Tschirhart had thought they were out. But they finished second to P.E.I. in the pregame draws to the button and that, combined with their 1-1 record moved them forward and meant the winner of the Nova Scotia-P.E.I. game would join them.

“We’re happy to have this opportunity,” Scoffin said. “Our goal first of all was to get to Saturday. Now we have to refocus, set new goals and prepare to play well (today).”

In the pivotal fourth end of their game, P.E.I took advantage of narrow Nova Scotia misses to bury three counters behind deep cover going to skip rocks. Throwing last stones, Peter Burgess was narrow with an attempted hit-and-roll to shot with his first rock and was heavy with his second-rock draw, leaving Casey to count four.

“The game was one shot, probably one of the first pressure draws he had and it just slid on him,” Casey said of Burgess’s final rock.

It was another end where P.E.I.’s front end of Doherty and Carmody set the table for a multiple point end.

“At this level the front end is huge,” said Casey. They set the tone. If you leads playing 100 percent and you’re giving him semi-difficult shots it makes a huge difference. They’re chasing, the second and third have to really step it up or they leave the skip with really tough ones.”

The loss was especially hard for Nova Scotia because they were just two centimetres back of the Yukon in the pre-game draw rankings.

“We had it in our hands and were just a little off, about two centimetres,” said MacLeod. “The rock died as it was coming into the house.”

“That’s really unfortunate,” added Casey. “Glen was the first skip I played with coming into junior and I have a ton of respect for him. To lose by two centimetres is tough.”

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/