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Northern Ontario bounces back with victory at Tim Hortons Brier

ST. JOHN’S — World-class curling teams don’t just know how to win games; they know how to lose them, too. Or, more accurately, they know how to deal with losses.

Brad Jacobs and his Northern Ontario team earned a key win on Thursday morning at the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

So it’s been with Brad Jacobs’ Northern Ontario team from Sault Ste. Marie. Jacobs, vice-skip Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden, lead Ryan Harnden, alternate Lee Toner and coach Caleb Flaxey were part of two of the most emotionally charged games of the week at the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier, and ended up losing both — to Newfoundland-Labrador’s Brad Gushue on Tuesday night, and to Manitoba’s Mike McEwen on Wednesday afternoon.

B.C.’s John Morris is still alive for playoff berth. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

But both times, Northern Ontario was able to put the loss firmly in the rear-view mirror and come back with a solid victory.

The latest example came Thursday morning at Mile One Centre, where Northern Ontario curled a cumulative 91 per cent to dispatch Saskatchewan’s Adam Casey (5-5; Regina) 8-5.

The win lifted Northern Ontario’s record to 7-3 and put them within striking distance of a playoff position.

“We don’t like to lose, and it makes you feel a lot better after taking a big loss if you can come out and play well and win,” said Jacobs, the 2013 Tim Hortons Brier and 2014 Olympic champion, who noted the recovery process from the losses was pretty simple. “We had a couple beers; the same thing we did after the loss to Gushue. Just have a couple of beers and forget about it.”

Particularly notable on Thursday, suggested Jacobs, was the performance of Fry, who struggled against Manitoba but rallied nicely against Saskatchewan.

“I’m really proud of the way Fry played today; he was very unhappy with himself after yesterday’s game,” said Jacobs. “I said to him during the (loss to Manitoba), ‘I don’t know what you did to tick off the curling gods.’ Everything he was doing for some reason was not going his way. But he came out today and he was making everything. He really set us up well; we got a lot of deuces because of his shots.”

Northern Ontario will close out its round-robin schedule tonight against Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher (3-7; Edmonton).

“Being 6-and-3 coming into today, we knew we control our own destiny,” said Jacobs. “ We know if we go 8-and-3, we make the playoffs. So the goal today was just to come out in both games, play the best we can, and hopefully we can squeak in there.”

Quebec vice-skip Martin Crête calls instructions to his teammates. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

In other Thursday morning matchups, Quebec’s Jean-Michel Ménard (6-3; Levis) kept his playoff hopes alive with an 8-6 win over Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories (1-8; Yellowknife); B.C.’s John Morris (6-4; Vernon/Kelowna) stayed alive with a 5-2 triumph over Alberta; and Nova Scotia’s Jamie Murphy (3-6; Halifax) downed New Brunswick’s Mike Kennedy (1-8; Fredericton) 9-7.

Manitoba’s Mike McEwen (7-1; Winnipeg), Newfoundland/Labrador’s Brad Gushue (6-2; St. John’s), Team Canada’s Kevin Koe (6-2; Calgary) and Ontario’s Glenn Howard (3-5; Etobicoke) all had byes on Thursday morning.

Action at the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier continues on Thursday, with draws scheduled for 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. (all times NST).

For ticket and other event information, www.curling.ca/2017brier/

For the complete schedule, go to www.curling.ca/2017brier/draw/

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2017brier/?lang=fr

TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier.