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Team Saskatchewan hits win column at Tim Hortons Brier

REGINA – The poster boys for the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by Mosaic, finally gave the home-province fans a win to cheer about.

Saskatchewan’s Steve Laycock (Saskatoon) defeated New Brunswick’s James Grattan (Oromocto) 9-4 to score its first victory at the Brandt Centre Sunday evening, igniting a lusty cheer from the audience. Both teams are 1-2.

Ever since Curling Canada awarded the event to Regina, skip Steve Laycock fourth-rock thrower Matt Dunstone, second Kirk Muyres, and lead Dallan Muyres (Lyle Muyres is the alternate and Pat Simmons the coach) have been featured on promotional material. That’s because Laycock has been skipping the province’s best team for a few years.

However, with losses in their first two games, the faithful fans were starving for a win. And they got it in fine fashion as Saskatchewan dominated after taking a 4-3 lead in the third end.

“That was nice to get a win finally. We played a little bit better each time out so far and finally it turned into victory,” said Laycock. “We just took a little while to figure out the ice and the rocks. We weren’t that far off, we weren’t throwing it that badly. We played a really good Manitoba team this morning (a 7-5 extra-end loss). We’re playing a little bit better now, hopefully we can keep that rolling.”

Laycock welcomes having so many on his side.

“It’s a little more attention to your games. Like, when we draw for two or we make a hit and get a few rocks out, we get a big cheer,” said Laycock. “It’s definitely positive energy for us out there.”

He said more than 20 family, including all of his siblings, nieces and nephews, are in the stands.

“When you get into the flow of the game you don’t notice them,” he said. “But when there’s downtime, which there is a lot of in curling, you start to look up there and it’s fun just to see some familiar faces.”

Meanwhile at the top of Pool B at 3-0 are Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie) and Manitoba’s Reid Carruthers (West St. Paul). Manitoba, the pool’s top-seeded team, breezed past Nunavut 12-5 to keep the team from Iqaluit skipped by David St. Louis winless (0-3).

Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs watches his shot on Sunday night. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“The guys are playing well. It’s a little bit of a turnaround from our last Brier together,” said Carruthers of going 4-7 at Calgary in 2015. “It’s exciting to be here at this point, but it’s a very long week.”

The Brandt Centre is a place in which Carruthers is quite comfy, having won a world men’s championship playing second for Jeff Stoughton in 2011.

“The first time I walked out in front of the crowd it brought back some memories of that experience. It was a great experience, obviously. The crowd was super supportive and they’ve been great to us this week, too,” said Carruthers.

Northern Ontario, seeded second in the pool, downed Prince Edward Island 9-5 to drop the Charlottetown team skipped by Eddie MacKenzie to 1-2.

Ontario’s John Epping (Toronto) is alone in third place at 2-1 after downing Mike Fournier of Quebec (1-2; Dollard-des-Ormeaux) 7-3.

“It was nice to get two wins today after a tough one yesterday (a 4-3 loss to Jacobs), so I’m really happy,” said Epping. “We were a little sloppy against Brad. Brad gave us some opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them, as we gave them opportunities as well and they didn’t. We’ve been to a few Olympic trials, and I know the Brier is somewhat of the same atmosphere, so enjoy.

“Our goal is to get to 5-2 (in the eight-team round robin) and be in the Championship Pool.”

The 2018 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by Mosaic, continues with draws Monday 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