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Brier playdowns taking shape

Now that the field is set for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, it’s the men’s time to figure out who gets to punch their tickets to Ottawa for the 2016 Tim Hortons Brier. While some familiar names like Brad Gushue (NL) and Jamie Koe (NWT) have already made it through their provincial finals, four more championships got underway this week, and one of them already finished.

Prince Edward Island

The PEI Tankard was decided by six teams playing through three events, each for a playoff spot. As things turned out, no playoff was necessary, as Summerside’s Adam Casey went undefeated through all three brackets, claiming all three potential playoff berths. Casey, with David Mathers, Anson Carmody, and Robbie Doherty beat Jamie Newson in the C event final, to cap off his second consecutive provincial championship.

2015 Calgary Ab, Tim Hortons Brier Pre Qualifier, P.E.I. skip Adam Casey, CCA/michael burns photo

Adam Case, PEI (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)

Last year, Casey’s PEI rink won the pre-qualifying round, and went on to finish the week at 5-6, tied for seventh. The result ensured that PEI wouldn’t have to face the pre-qualifying round at this year’s event.

New Brunswick

The Riverside Country Club in Rothesay, N.B. will be hosting the New Brunswick Pepsi Men’s Tankard starting Wednesday. Eight teams are vying for the spot, including 2012 champ Terry Odishaw, 2013 and 2014 (and nine other years) champ James Grattan, and defending 2015 champ Jeremy Mallais.

There will be seven round-robin draws before playoffs start on Saturday. Games will be streamed on BellAliant TV1.

Ontario

Eleven teams are battling for the Ontario title at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in Brantford. Fifteen-time Ontario champion Glenn Howard highlights the field; however, he hasn’t been to the Brier since 2013. Included in the field is 2014 champ Greg Balsdon, but 2015 champ Mark Kean is not, as his team shakeup made him ineligible for the defending champion berth. Instead, last year’s runner up, and one of this year’s hottest teams, John Epping got the spot.

Both Epping and Howard have started the Ontario Recharge With Milk Tankard round robin with four wins. The 1998 Olympic silver medallist, Mike Harris, also has four wins, but has suffered a loss at the hands of Howard.

Games are featured on RogersTV and RogersTV Sports.

Saskatchewan

Steven Laycock has to be the favourite at the SaskTel Tankard in Kindersley, Sask. The 16-team triple knockout kicks off Wednesday afternoon, and will feed into a Page playoff on the weekend. Laycock currently sits in sixth place on the CTRS, and his closest competitor, Shaun Meachem, sits at No. 15, while Bruce Korte, also in the field, is currently ranked 20th on the CTRS.

Games can be streamed at CurlSask.ca