Prince Edward Island’s Brett Gallant of Charlottetown entered the record book Sunday night, winning his 42nd game as a skip, including round robin and playoffs, in his sixth appearance at the Canadian Juniors.
The 7-4 victory over British Columbia at Colisée Cardin in this year’s M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors gave Gallant the men’s record, moving him past Quebec’s Martin Crête, who had 41 wins in five appearances.
The 19-year-old Gallant, the reigning Canadian junior champion and 2009 world silver medallist, is also tied with 2006 Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue for most junior men’s appearances, but he’s the only curler to appear as a skip in all six. Gushue skipped in five Juniors and played second in his 1995 debut.
Just as important as the record, though, was the fact that the win stopped a two-game slide for the Islanders and evened their record at 2-2. Another loss would have put the team in some jeopardy regarding the playoffs. And it’s only the opening weekend.
He also changed his routine Sunday night, shedding his trademark PEI ball cap in favour of the ‘au naturel’ look.
So, what does it feel like, Brett, to set a career mark?
“I started pretty young,” said Gallant. “It’s been a long time, when I think back to my first win against the Northwest Territories in 2004 in Victoria, B.C. It seems like ages ago, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, especially the guys I’m playing with today. They’ve been around for what, 39 of those 42 wins, so it’s not just myself, by any means.
“Coming back (to the nationals) is one thing, but to be able to be successful here is another. We got off to a rough start this week so far, but we’re bouncing back. We know it’s a long week. And hopefully we’ll be around at the end. Our only real bad game was against New Brunswick Saturday night. The ice got us by surprise and we didn’t catch on. I guess it’s nice to get this out of the way, but we really weren’t thinking about it.
“A big win for the team tonight. Our backs are still up against the wall but it got us back on track and maybe we have a little more confidence now. But we’ve got a lot of work to do here.”
About not wearing his PEI hat tonight. “I had to switch things up. It wasn’t working. So, I can’t go back yet.”
Gallant debuted at the Canadian Juniors as a 13-year-old skip, the then-youngest in event history in 2004. He didn’t qualify for the 2005 championship, but has contested the Canadian Juniors for the last five years, finishing second in 2007 and third in 2008, before winning it all in Salmon Arm, British Columbia last year. He subsequently earned a silver medal at the 2009 World Juniors in Vancouver.
Gallant was eventually succeeded as the youngest to ever skip at the Juniors by Thomas Scoffin of Whitehorse, who was 12 years old in 2007 when he debuted in St. Catharines.