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Team Northern Ontario determined to follow Jacobs to another Tim Hortons Brier title

BRANDON, Man. – It’s been six years since Brad Jacobs and his Northern Ontario teammates last won the Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI, but the 2014 Olympic gold medallist has that look in his eyes this week and a team determined to follow him to another title.

“We really want to win,” second E.J. Harnden said after Team Northern Ontario (6-0, Sault Ste. Marie) posted another convincing win Tuesday evening, 9-5 over Mike McEwen and Team Manitoba (3-3, West St. Paul). “We’ve had the taste of defeat for the last number of years and we’re on hopefully a mission this week to get the job done.”

Jacobs, the 2013 Tim Hortons Brier champion with Harnden, third Ryan Fry and lead Ryan Harnden (alternate Lee Toner and coach Adam Kingsbury round out the current team), has dominated his Pool A opponents this week, consistently shooting more than 90 per cent as a team.

And Jacobs is shooting 92 per cent for the week.

“Brad kind of has that look in his eyes right now and he had that look in his eyes and the tone in his voice before we came here,” said E.J. Harnden, who’s averaging 94 per cent through six games. “All of us are really excited … and we feel pretty good about the way our leader is playing right now and the way he’s leading our team.”

Northern Ontario scored two in the first, third and ninth ends to defeat McEwen and put Team Manitoba on the edge of a cliff. With three losses going into today’s final round-robin draw, Manitoba and Jon Solberg and Team Yukon both have 3-3 records. Northern Ontario is 6-0, Team Wild Card 5-1 and Saskatchewan 4-2. Only four teams advance to the Championship Pool

Manitoba will play Prince Edward Island and Yukon will play Northern Ontario in Wednesday’s final preliminary round draw.

For McEwen, his troubles began when Jacobs won the hammer in the draw to the button.

“If you look at the stats of very good teams they’ll often have winning records of 70 to 80 per cent when they have hammer,” McEwen said. “It’s quite an edge starting with hammer.”

Team Wild Card’s Brendan Bottcher, top, and Darren Moulding check out the situation. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Northern Ontario used hammer to open with a deuce and Manitoba spent the game chasing and now find themselves in a must-win situation.

“We’re kind of in the trench and there’s no turning back,” said McEwen, “Maybe seven, eight sudden-death games. You don’t want to get to four losses … that doesn’t get you anywhere.”

Solberg and Team Yukon (3-3, Whitehorse) kept their hopes of advancing alive with an 8-7 win over John Likely and Team Prince Edward Island (1-5, Charlottetown).

Brendan Bottcher and Team Wild Card (5-1, Edmonton) continued to post big ends – this time four in the third and three in the seventh – to beat Martin Crête and Team Quebec (2-4, Saint-Romuald) 10-4 and clinch a Championship Pool berth

Kirk Muyres and Team Saskatchewan (4-2, Saskatoon) scored four in the second end and rolled to a 9-5 win over Andrew Symonds of Team Newfoundland and Labrador (0-6, St. John’s).

The 2019 Tim Hortons Brier continues with draws Wednesday at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (all times CST).

Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2019 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 2019 Tim Hortons Brier. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule.

For ticket information for the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier, go to www.curling.ca/2019brier/tickets.

This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2019brier/?lang=fr