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Team Canada improves to 2-0 at Tim Hortons Brier

It’s hardly breaking news that the 2016 Tim Hortons Brier features the most talented array of teams in the rich history of the Canadian men’s curling championship.

But it’s become increasingly apparent that it’s not going to be just the team that has the best shot-making ability that comes out on top in seven days’ time.

It’s also going to be the team that’s toughest mentally as well, because nine days of 10-end games against the best collection of teams in Canada can really wear you down between the ears.

“Easy games? Here? Not ever,” said Team Canada skip Pat Simmons, after his Calgary team’s 5-4 win over Saskatchewan’s Steve Laycock (0-2; Saskatoon) in action Sunday morning at TD Place. “They’re non-existent, I think, so we have to be prepared for that. That was a good game, another great team. We got a little bit of a jump early, and then it was a mental marathon. Lucky to be able to pull that one out.”

Simmons, backed up by third John Morris, second Carter Rycroft, lead Nolan Thiessen, alternate Tom Sallows and coach Earle Morris, were able to get a second-end deuce and add a steal of one in the third to take early control.

But Saskatchewan — a bronze-medal team last year in Calgary — fought back to tie it with deuces in the sixth and eighth ends, sandwiched around a Team Canada single. Simmons finished off the win to improve to 2-0 with a double takeout to close out the game.

“We’re getting off to good starts, and that’s the key so far for us,” said Simmons. “We’re playing really well the first few ends, and we’re to able to get some points on the board. And this game was just good enough to run with. Yeah, I like the starts we’ve had.”

Northern Ontario lead Ryan Harnden, left, and Manitoba lead Denni Neufeld share a laugh during Sunday morning action at the 2016 Tim Hortons Brier. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Northern Ontario lead Ryan Harnden, left, and Manitoba lead Denni Neufeld share a laugh during Sunday morning action at the 2016 Tim Hortons Brier. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Team Canada is tied for top spot at 2-0 with 2013 Tim Hortons Brier champ Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario (Sault Ste. Marie). Northern Ontario needed an extra end to beat Quebec’s Jean-Michel Ménard (0-2; St-Romuald) 5-4.

In other action on Sunday morning, Alberta’s Kevin Koe (1-1; Calgary) got into the win column, shaking off the disappointment of Saturday’s Draw 1 loss to Ontario’s Glenn Howard with a 10-4 win over New Brunswick’s Mike Kennedy (1-1; Grand Falls).

“That was a good result, bouncing back like that,” said Alberta coach John Dunn. “0-and-2 is a hole for any team; 0-and-3 is even worse. So right now we’re happy at 1-and-1, and hopefully we can keep it going.”

In the other Sunday morning game, Manitoba’s Mike McEwen (1-1; Winnipeg) evened his record with a 6-2 win over Ontario’s Howard team (1-1; Toronto).

B.C.’s Jim Cotter (1-0; Vernon/Kelowna), Newfoundland/Labrador’s Brad Gushue (1-0; St. John’s), P.E.I.’s Adam Casey (0-1; Charlottetown/Summerside) and the Northwest Territories’ Jamie Koe (0-1; Yellowknife) all had byes on Sunday morning.

For ticket and other event information, visit http://www.curling.ca/2016brier/tickets/

For the complete schedule, go to http://www.curling.ca/2016brier/draw/

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at http://www.curling.ca/2016brier/?lang=fr

TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the 2016 Tim Hortons Brier