The race is on!

Derek Samagalski, left, and Colton Lott sweep a rock thrown by Manitoba skip Mike McEwen during action on Tuesday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Race for playoff spots heating up at Tim Hortons Brier

Front-runner Brad Gushue and his Team Wild Card #1 had the morning bye Tuesday, and from his vantage point on the sidelines had the opportunity to look at the teams chasing him in the standings at the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI.

And what the three-time Canadian men’s champ from St. John’s, N.L., saw at the ENMAX Centre in Lethbridge, Alta., should give him cause for concern.

The Kennedy brothers — Glen (sweeping) and Marc — went head to head on Tuesday morning in Lethbridge. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Teams skipped by Mike McEwen, Brad Jacobs and Jason Gunnlaugson all won their games Tuesday morning in impressive fashion, showing they are not going to let Gushue, fresh off a bronze-medal win at the Winter Olympics, run and hide with the No. 1 spot in their pool.

Most impressive was Jacobs, who guided his  Team Northern Ontario (4-1, Sault Ste. Marie) to a crushing 8-3 win over skip Jamie Koe’s Team Northwest Territories (0-5, Yellowknife). The win kept Jacobs and Co. one loss in arrears of Team Wild Card #1, which is leading the nine-team Pool B pack with a spotless 4-0 mark.

“It feels like we’re building,” said 36-year-old Jacobs, looking for his second Canadian men’s curling championship after winning in 2013. “We’re throwing the rock well, communicating well.”

Jacobs had an open hit for four in the fifth to go up 6-1 and that pretty much sealed the deal.

“That blew the game wide open,” said Jacobs, “and after that we were in control.”

It was a special game for Team Northern Ontario vice-skip Marc Kennedy who got to play against his older brother, Glen, making his first Tim Hortons Brier appearance with Team Northwest Territories.

McEwen’s Team Manitoba (3-1, West St. Paul) was no less impressive in toppling previously undefeated Team Nova Scotia (3-1, Halifax) skipped by Paul Flemming. McEwen’s 7-4 win kept the Manitobans solidly in the mix, along with the Bluenosers, for one of three playoff spots available at the end of pool round-robin action on Thursday.

Flemming was the architect of his own defeat after coming up short of a draw to the pin with backing in the sixth end, giving McEwen a steal of two and a 4-1 lead.

“Definitely the turning point,” said McEwen. “To have a steal of two turns the game on its head. It (Flemming’s final shot) looked pretty good but then maybe a soft grab. That was a bit of fortune for us.”

Quebec skip Mike Fournier, left, and Félix Asselin ponder their options. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

McEwen said it was a “must win” for his Manitoba squad, especially with Team Wild Card #1 next up in the evening.

“We’re going to need a 90 per cent game against them,” said McEwen. “They’re just so consistent.”

Gunnlaugson’s Team Wild Card #3 (3-2, Morris, Man.) had a bounce-back win Tuesday after knocking off tough veteran skip Brent Pierce’s Team British Columbia (1-3, New Westminster) 9-4.

Add it all up and Team Wild Card #1 knows it better stay on its toes if it hopes to nail down top spot in the pool and earn an early playoff bye on the weekend. 

In the other morning game, skip Mike Fournier’s Team Quebec (2-3, Dollard-des-Ormeaux) posted a 9-4 win over Team Nunavut (0-4, Iqaluit) skipped by Peter Mackey.

The 2022 Tim Hortons Brier continues with draws Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (all times MT).

Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier are available at

TSN and RDS2 (streamed on ESPN3 in the United States) will provide complete coverage of the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule.

For ticket information for the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier, go to

This story will be available in French as soon as possible at