Eddie MacKenzie rink ready to rock at Brier (Guardian)

(by Charles Reid)

Island entry is no stranger to Canadian men’s curling championship

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Excuse Eddie MacKenzie if he’s been there, done that, when it comes to the Tim Hortons Brier.

MacKenzie’s been to the Canadian men’s curling championship six times, but forgive him also if it never gets boring.

Team P.E.I., from left, fifth Robbie Younker, skip Eddie MacKenzie, coach Phil Gorveatt and lead Sean Ledgerwood of the P.E.I. Tankard-winning rink discuss a bit of strategy before a recent game in Charlottetown. The rink, which also includes second Chris Gallant and third Josh Barry, begins play at the Tim Hortons Brier today in Regina, Sask. – Charles Reid

“It’s the biggest … curling event. I’m old school, to me the Brier’s the best,” said MacKenzie, adding other things can hamper the fun he used to have but that’s life. “It’s difficult these days with other things on the go, but it’s always pretty exciting.”

MacKenzie, the two-time defending P.E.I. champ, skips a group that includes lead Sean Ledgerwood, second Chris Gallant and third Josh Barry. The alternate is Robbie Younker and coach is Phil Gorveatt. They play out of the Charlottetown Curling Complex.

The on-ice stuff starts today when MacKenzie tangles with the Manitoba rink skipped by Reid Carruthers at 4 p.m. Atlantic.

The Brier brings together the best 16 teams in Canada. This year features a new two-pool, eight-team-per-pool system for the round robin. The teams compete in their respective pools and the top four from each pool moves on to the championship pool.

Each teams’ 11 games will count towards determining the top four teams that advance to the Page playoffs. Those and tie breakers, if necessary, go Saturday. Semifinals and the final goes Sunday. The bronze medal game has been eliminated.

For Ledgerwood, it’s changes like the pool system that help keep the Brier fresh. It’s Ledgerwood’s fifth time there.

“It’s different every time. You’ve got different teams, different venues, different crowds. Last year (Brad) Gushue won on home ice (in St. John’s, N.L.) so the crowds were larger and everyone was a little bit more excited. It’s differences like that that keep it it interesting,” Ledgerwood said.

Gushue’s Team Canada rink, with second Brett Gallant from Charlottetown, is the defending champ. Gushue, third Mark Nichols, Gallant and lead Geoff Walker will try to become the first team since Kevin Martin’s Alberta foursome in 2008-2009 to win back-to-back titles.

Gushue and Gallant are in a different pool than Gallant’s brother Chris, so the MacKenzie rink would have to get through to the championship round for the teams to meet.

Click for full story, including Team PEI’s schedule, in The Guardian

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