(by Kyle Jahns)
Four teams will compete in the pre-qualifying tournament of the Tim Hortons Brier from March 4-12 in St. John’s, N.L. The teams will play a round robin, with the top two advancing to the pre-qualifying final. Learn more about them below:
For the second year in a row, Jamie Murphy needed an extra end to claim Nova Scotia’s provincial men’s curling championship.
Murphy scored two points in an extra end for a 9-7 win against Stuart Thompson at the Nova Scotia provincial men’s curling championship. In 2016, Murphy defeated Chad Stevens 6-5 in 11 ends.
All four members of the Nova Scotia team – Murphy, third Jordan Pinder, second Scott Saccary and lead Philip Crowell – return to the line-up and will once again compete in the pre-qualifying tournament.
At last year’s Tim Hortons Brier the team advanced to the pre-qualifying final after a 2-1 round robin record. However, Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories defeated Murphy and advanced to the Tim Hortons Brier round robin.
Murphy will be making his fourth appearance at the national men’s curling championship. The skip and third finished the 2012 Tim Hortons Brier with a 4-7 round-robin record. In 2014, the team was bested in all 11 round robin games and winless during the event.
There will be another Nova Scotian curler competing at the pre-qualifying tournament, but wearing different colours. Jim Nix of New Glasgow, N.S., will skip Nunavut’s team. Nix joins third Edmund MacDonald, second Greg Howard and lead Darryl McGrath.
MacDonald, Howard and McGrath represented the Iqaluit Curling Club at the 2015 Travelers Curling Club Championship.
Nunavut is yet to win a game at the Tim Hortons Brier pre-qualifying tournament, but this team hopes to change that in its Tim Hortons Brier debut.
Prince Edward Island
Eddie MacKenzie returns to the Tim Hortons Brier for the fifth time in his career after winning the Prince Edward Island provincial men’s curling championship. He defeated Phil Gorveatt in the modified triple knockout championship.
MacKenzie won the A-side of the event, but Gorveatt was the victor in the B and C sides of the event. This meant MacKenzie, third Sean Ledgerwood, second Matthew Nabuurs and lead Robbie Doherty needed to defeat Gorveatt in back-to-back games.
In the first game, Gorveatt opened with a promising four-ender, but steals of one in the third, sixth and seventh ends helped tip the scales in MacKenzie’s favour for a 9-7 win. Team MacKenzie maintained momentum in the second game and cruised to an 8-2 victory to earn the right to represent Prince Edward Island in the pre-qualifying tournament at the Tim Hortons Brier.
MacKenzie is making his first trip back to the Tim Hortons Brier since 2014 when he had a 4-7 round robin record. He’s also skipped the province in 2013 and 2011. His debut men’s national championship appearance was in 1994 when he played third for Mike Gaudet.
Craig Kochan will play in his first Tim Hortons Brier after he and his Whitehorse Curling Club team won the Yukon men’s curling championship.
Kochan, vice-skip Jon Solberg (who throws skip rocks), second Ray Mikkelsen and lead Darrin Fredrickson defeated Brent Pierce in back-to-back games: first an 11-5 victory, followed by a much closer 7-6 affair.
Single draw tickets and full event packages are still available for what will surely be an action-packed week. Don’t miss out and purchase tickets today at: http://www.curling.ca/2017brier/tickets/.