REGINA – The Battle of Ontario went to the north.
Brad Jacobs and his Northern Ontario (Sault Ste. Marie) team defeated John Epping of Toronto 4-3 in the opening draw of the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier presented by Mosaic Saturday afternoon.
It was a game in which neither team – both of whom played in the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings three months ago in Ottawa – managed to either score two points with the hammer or steal a point. It took a while for both to figure out the ice and the rocks in front of a nearly full crowd at the Brandt Centre.
“We were really just happy to go out there and get the first win,” said Jacobs. “I just like the way we hung in there and nobody got too frustrated with the things that were going on. Both teams had their misses because it’s so early in the event. I think everyone’s going to get sharper as the week goes along here, but despite some of the misses and some of the moments where we could have probably let that get to us we kept our cool, kept plugging away trying to make the next one.”
Jacobs said team communication on the ice intricacies and rock differences with third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden, lead Ryan Harnden, alternate Tanner Horgan and coach Caleb Flaxey was a key to victory.
“We nailed everything pretty well on the head as early as we could in that game and I think that’s one of the reasons that we won,” said Jacobs.
The game was the first at the Tim Hortons Brier for Epping, third Mat Camm, second Patrick Janssen, lead Tim March and coach Jim Wilson, despite Epping having participated in three trials and five Home Hard Ware Canada Cups.
“We should have won that one,” said Epping. “We had chances early to get control. They had chances too and they didn’t capitalize. It just seemed like both teams had chances and didn’t put the other team away. Brad made a good one on his first one in the last end or we probably steal the game.
“The ice is great, you’ve just got to settle in and learn what it’s doing. It’s a tough one when you have a chance to win, that’s a tough one out there. When you get a chance to beat those guys you need to.”
While points were at a premium in the Battle of Ontario on the sheet beside them, they were plentiful between Manitoba and Prince Edward Island as Reid Carruthers (West St. Paul) downed Eddie MacKenzie’s Charlottetown team 12-7 in eight ends. Manitoba scored three in the first, second and seventh ends while P.E.I. had a four in the third end.
The Manitoba player that probably got the most out of the win was third Braeden Moskowy, a Regina resident. The two-time Saskatchewan junior champion and 2011 Canadian junior champ figured he had close to 50 family and friends following him in the first draw ranging from parents, step-parents, siblings, high school and golf buddies. A couple of his friends were providing plenty of vocal support for him during the game.
“I was beginning to think I would need an agent to get all the tickets,” Moskowy told a phalanx of Regina journalists scrumming him after the game.
The opening draw didn’t have the same happy ending for Saskatchewan (Saskatoon) and the home-province fans. Skip Steve Laycock, with Matt Dunstone throwing last rocks, was beaten 5-2 by Quebec (Dollard-des-Ormeaux), skipped by 46-year-old Brier rookie Mike Fournier.
New Brunswick’s James Grattan (Oromocto), playing in his 12th Brier, opened with a 9-3 victory over David St. Louis of Nunavut (Iqaluit).
The 2018 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by Mosaic, continues with a draw today at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (all times CST).
Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier are available at www.curling.ca/scoreboard/
TSN and RDS2 (streamed on ESPN3 in the United States) will provide complete coverage of the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier. Go to www.tsn.ca/2017-18-curling-broadcast-schedule-1.593081 for the complete schedule.
For ticket information for the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier, go to www.curling.ca/2018brier/tickets/
This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2018brier/?lang=fr