Team Quebec shakes off rough start in Tim Hortons Brier for bounceback win
Skip Félix Asselin had a rough start to the 2023 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI.
On the very first draw Friday evening, his Team Quebec was pounded harder than the bottom of a ketchup bottle, suffering a 13-2 defeat at the hands of Team Ontario, skipped by Mike McEwen.
So what do you do after a beating like that?
For Asselin, the answer was simple: pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get at it, which is exactly what he did Saturday evening at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ont.
The Quebecois, representing the Glenmore, Belvédère, Etchemin and Valleyfield clubs, gathered themselves and played the game they are more accustomed to, defeating Team Yukon, skipped by Thomas Scoffin (0-2, Whitehorse), 8-2 in one of four Pool B game on the evening docket.
Asselin could only breath a sigh of relief that his record is 1-1 and his psyche wouldn’t need a little realignment after a second loss.
“It was a bad performance yesterday,” said Asselin, who works as a geologist. “Mike’s team played also well and he gave us a beating but to come back today and find a way to win was good. We’re going to get better throughout the week.”
Asselin took the loss with a shrug of the shoulders.
“We could have lost 7-6 on a good performance and been at the same spot,” he said. “After two days we’re 1-1 and where we needed to be after yesterday’s result.”
It was only Day 2 of the Tim Hortons Brier but already there were some heavyweight collisions, including Team Ontario’s (2-0, Toronto) 6-4 victory over Team Canada’s Brad Gushue (1-1, St. John’s, N.L.).
Team Gushue took advantage of an egregious miss by McEwen in the very first end, when he flashed a double attempt, to score three. But that was basically it for Team Canada, which scored one point after that.
“That was a massive win for us. We were trying to get a dreamy 2-1 start, and a chance now to even better it,” said McEwen, who formed a new team out of the Royal Canadian Curling Club in Toronto, featuring Ryan Fry at third, Brent Laing at second, Joey Hart at lead and coach Richard Hart.
“I wasn’t so hot early, a 3-0 hole, with a half miss and a full miss. We had to dig deep. We settled down and made some big shots down the stretch. The guys played great in front of me. This is a different team. If we weren’t a different team, we may not have come back in that game.”
McEwen figured the seventh end was the key.
“I made a super, flat across-the-house double to force Brad to one,” he said. “Just that and manufacturing the three (in eight) where the guys in front of me made all our shots to give me a chance.”
Meanwhile, a Battle of Alberta was raging nearby, with Team Wild Card #1 (2-0, Calgary), skipped by 2021 Canadian champion Brendan Bottcher, taking out skip Karsten Sturmay’s Team Wild Card #3 (1-1, St. Albert) 10-3. The two teams had collided in the Alberta playdowns, where Bottcher also scored a round-robin victory.
The turning point came in the sixth end when Sturmay, attempting a big-weight double, merely grazed the first stone, leaving the door open for Bottcher to draw for three and take a 6-2 lead.
In the other Pool B game, Tyler Smith’s Team Prince Edward Island (1-1, Crapaud) came back to defeat Team New Brunswick (1-1, Moncton) skipped by Scott Jones, 9-8 in an extra end.
The 18 Tim Hortons Brier teams are split into two pools of nine, and will play a complete eight-game round robin. The top three teams in each pool advance to the playoffs where it will be further reduced to a Final Four and a Page playoff system.
The final goes Sunday, March 12.
The Tim Hortons Brier champion will wear the Maple Leaf at the 2023 BKT Tires & OK Tire World Men’s Curling Championship, April 1-9 in Ottawa.
The 2023 Tim Hortons Brier continues with draws Sunday with draws at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (all times ET).
Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2023 Tim Hortons Brier are available at curling.ca/scoreboard.
TSN and RDS2 will provide complete coverage of the 2023 Tim Hortons Brier. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule.
For ticket information for the 2023 Tim Hortons Brier, go to www.curling.ca/2023brier/tickets/
This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2023brier/nouvelles/?lang=fr