Although this year’s Tim Hortons Brier Canadian men’s curling championship will be like no other, the Eddie MacKenzie-skipped rink is still looking forward to representing Prince Edward Island against the country’s best men’s teams.
MacKenzie, third Tyler Smith, second Sean Ledgerwood and lead Ryan Lowery will open the round-robin schedule in Calgary on Saturday afternoon. Aaron Bartling of Alberta will join Team P.E.I. as its alternate player. Bartling, who has won a Canadian firefighters curling championship, will also be making his Brier debut.
Eddie MacKenzie intently follows his shot during the Tankard P.E.I. men’s curling championship in O’Leary in January. MacKenzie will skip P.E.I.’s representative at the Tim Hortons Brier Canadian men’s curling championship in Calgary, March 6-14. – Jason Simmonds
“It’s always exciting (to go to a Brier),” said MacKenzie, 48. “For us, it’s like going to the NHL or whatever. It’s enjoyable to get there. It will be a little different this year without the fans.” Team MacKenzie, which lists the Montague Curling Club and the Crapaud Community Curling Club as its home clubs, swept the Blair Jay rink from the Silver Fox in Summerside in the best-of-five Tankard provincial men’s championship in O’Leary in January.
“It will be nice to make the second pool and try to get through the first one,” said MacKenzie. “Anything can happen if you go on a run.”
MacKenzie acknowledged there are no easy opponents at the Brier. He said Team P.E.I. has been working hard to prepare and has been fortunate to train on Larry Richards’s ice at the Montague Curling Club. He described Montague’s ice as essentially Brier condition.
Tyler Smith, third with the Eddie MacKenzie rink, releases a shot while lead Ryan Lowery, left, and second Sean Ledgerwood handle the sweeping. The action took place during the Tankard P.E.I. men’s curling championship in O’Leary in January.- Jason Simmonds
Lowery and Smith will be making their debuts at the Brier, but both are no strangers when it comes to competing in Canadian curling championships. Smith has played in six national junior events, including five as a skip. Lowery was Smith’s lead for three of those championships.
Ledgerwood, who works with the provincial government’s Department of Environment, said it is always fun to watch players in their first Brier experience. He predicted a memorable experience for Lowery and Smith.