REGINA – With a wall of adversity in the past, Brad Jacobs and his Northern Ontario team are rolling along in the present at the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by Mosaic.
The Sault Ste. Marie squad had to battle back from a poor start at the Northern Ontario playdowns just to get to the region’s final. They then had to steal the final two ends to secure victory. But after downing James Grattan of New Brunswick (1-3; Oromocto) 9-4 Monday, Jacobs is 4-0, along with Reid Carruthers of Manitoba (West St. Paul), in Pool B round-robin play.
“I do think our provincial championship, and how tough and gruelling it was, how we had to come through tiebreakers and semifinals to win that championship, it prepared us very well for the Brier,” said Jacobs, who is supported by third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden, lead Ryan Harnden, alternate Tanner Horgan and coach Caleb Flaxey.
“We’re throwing the rock well. I like what I’m seeing from the three guys in front of me, so I’m happy with where we’re at.”
Northern Ontario will battle Saskatchewan Tuesday morning and Quebec in the evening before taking on Manitoba in its final Pool B game Wednesday afternoon. Jacobs likes the new Tim Hortons Brier format where during the preliminary pool teams play every second draw.
“It’s really good for recharging, relaxing and coming out sharp for the next game. It really beats the old draw where you could play four games in a row and that was really gruelling. It’s really nice,” said Jacobs.
Carruthers, third Braeden Moskowy, second Derek Samalgaski, lead Colin Hodgson and coach Dan Carey, stuck with Jacobs atop the standings by downing Quebec’s Mike Fournier (1-3; Dollard-des-Ormeaux) 9-6. Carruthers didn’t lose the game but he did lose his omnipresent cap.
“I’m changing it up a bit. I’m not going to wear a hat for the rest of my life on the ice. It was probably one of my better games. The guys said I’m a little more aerodynamic this game,” said Carruthers, who added future determinations of whether or not to wear the cap will be “game-time decisions.”
“I kept trying to compete with (lead Colin Hodgson) for the nicest hair and it wasn’t working, It was a little cool on the head, though. Might have to wear one of those little, thin tuques.”
In other action, Ontario scored early and often. Very often. The Toronto team skipped by John Epping blew out winless Nunavut (0-4; Iqaluit), skipped by David St. Louis, 14-3. The win enabled Ontario to keep pace with Manitoba and Northern Ontario at 3-1, and sit alone in third place.
With four teams advancing to the Championship Pool, Epping’s chances are looking good considering he is two losses clear of the teams in fifth. But Ontario still has Manitoba and fourth-place Saskatchewan on its eight-team Pool B round-robin dance card.
“Our goal is just to get through into the championship round. Ideally, we would love to go 5-2. We think that would be awesome and give us ourselves a good chance of going into the championship pool, but we just want to get there first,” said Epping. “I feel that by the end of the week, if you want to be in the playoffs, you’ve probably got to be 8-3.”
Steve Laycock’s Saskatchewan (Saskatoon) squad is in possession of the fourth and final Championship Pool playoff spot at 2-2 after edging Eddie MacKenzie of Prince Edward Island (1-3; Charlottetown) 7-6 in an extra end. Fourth-rock shooter Matt Dunstone delivered a nervy hit-and-stick with his final stone to pick up the win.
The 2018 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by Mosaic, continues with a draw at 7 p.m. (all times CST) and draws Tuesday at 9 a.m., 2 p.m., and 7 p.m.
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