CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – With the Tim Hortons Brier just a few days away, Island curling fans will reflect on an age old question: will P.E.I. ever win the Brier?
P.E.I. has participated in the Canadian men’s championship since 1937 and has two third-place finishes in the pre-playoff era (Alan Smith in 1968 and 1969) and three playoff era tiebreaker or playoff round placings to celebrate. Dr. Wayne Matheson tied for third in 1985 while Robert Campbell finished tied for third in 1995 and Peter MacDonald finished fourth in 1996.
Islanders playing for other provinces have also had success at the Brier, but as of yet there is no name of a provincial son on the Brier Tankard.
Charlottetown’s Brett Gallant, playing for Newfoundland and Labrador’s Brad Gushue rink, will go into the Brier as the co-favourites with Team Canada. They will also be the sentimental favourite in St. John’s, N.L., next week. Gushue finished second to Team Canada in last year’s final.
The P.E.I. representatives, led by Eddie MacKenzie, have to qualify for the Brier, but Adam Casey, a Seven Mile Bay native and Winsloe resident, is already part of the main field, skipping the Saskatchewan entry. Saskatchewan has won seven Brier titles.
“It’s funny, the first interview question I get asked from Saskatchewan media is always: Do you know it’s been 37 years since Saskatchewan has won the Brier?” Casey said. “But in saying that, I by no means feel any additional pressure. I try to keep my focus on my teammates and win for them.”
Both Gallant and Casey have been fortunate to find teammates willing to take the financial risk and capitalize on the opportunity that the World Curling Tour has provided. The result is Island curling fans may soon be able to answer the P.E.I. Brier question in the affirmative.
The Tim Hortons Brier goes March 4-12 in St. John’s NL, with the pre-qualification event starting March 2.