Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tim Hortons Brier Preview

The Tim Hortons Brier returns to Saddledome ice for the fourth time, and if history is any indication, keep your eye on the local rinks. The previous three Briers in Calgary were won by Team Alberta: Skips Kevin Martin in 1997 and 2009, and Randy Ferbey in 2002.

The odds of a local rink winning it are doubled this year, with two Calgary-based rinks. Team Canada–skipped by John Morris–is coming in as the defending champion, while Kevin Koe–the former skip of Team Canada–left in the off-season to start a new rink (third Marc Kennedy, vice-skip Bren Laing, lead Ben Hebert).

This year's field is full of talent with a number of rinks having a chance at hoisting the trophy on March 8.

Northern Ontario, skipped by Brad Jacobs, enters as the clear favourite coming off an Olympic gold medal performance in Sochi. They also won the tankard back in 2013.

Brad Gushue returns to the Brier for the twelfth time. His Newfoundland and Labrador rink have won twice this season on the World Curling Tour and sit second in money earnings.

Quebec skip Jean-Michel Menard is back for his ninth appearance; he won back in 2006 when the event was played in Regina.  Manitoba skip Reid Carruthers may be a rookie skip at the Brier, but he’s been on the big stage four times before, including winning it all as a second for Jeff Stoughton in 2011. Carruthers also had to beat one of the hottest teams in Canada this year, Mike McEwen in Manitoba play-downs, just to earn the right to play.

Not to be forgotten is British Columbia’s Jim Cotter, who was the runner-up in Kamloops last year. While Steve Laycock and team Saskatchewan sit fifth on the Canadian Team Ranking system, and are making their fifth appearance.

2015 also marks a changing of the guard in men’s curling. Absent are some of the most recognizable names in the sport: Glenn Howard, Jeff Stoughton and Kevin Martin, with some new faces coming to the forefront. While Stoughton has been replaced by Carruthers as Manitoba's rep this year, the Ontario rink, after being skipped by Howard for many years, is now led by Mark Kean.

Complete Brier coverage can be found by clicking right here

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