Saturday, 30 March 2013

Curling scholarships

Curling scholarships

I was hanging out with some friends from south-of-the-border last year and just like most guys when they get together, the conversation drifted to sports.

They were talking about college football and how one of their nephews had scooped up a baseball scholarship to an American college in the south.

They then tried to joke with me about Canadian colleges and asked if they gave out curling scholarships. I sheepishly admitted that yes, there are post-secondary institutions that do give out curling athletic scholarships. They thought I was telling a whopper, like the time I told them I let my kids ride the polar bears when they come into our front yard.

I know for a fact that here in Ontario Wilfred Laurier University gives out athletic scholarships to curlers.

There are other scholarship programs offered by Canadian colleges and universities, you just have to search them out.

This crossed my desk and I thought I would pass it on.

Spirit of Sandra Junior Curling Scholarship
There is six scholarships being awarded each year. Scholarships are worth $5,000.

Spirit of Sandra Junior Curling Scholarships are funded through crowd sweeps at Season of Champion Events. These scholarships are intended for young athletes who participate in curling in their graduating year from high school or while pursuing a post-secondary education on a full-time basis. The scholarships will be awarded to graduating high school students entering a post-secondary institution and to students in their first or second year in a post-secondary institution. Recipients must be under the age of 21 years as of March 31, 2014. The aim is to give talented junior curlers the opportunity of combining their competitive curling pursuits with a year of academic study (i.e. September through April) in a Canadian University/College setting.

In recognition of Sandra Schmirler, the three-time Canadian and World Curling Champion and first gold medalist for curling in the Olympics, Scholarships will be awarded in the "Spirit of Sandra" and in the name of the Sandra Schmirler Foundation.

You can find out more information here.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Crazy curling parents

Crazy curling parents

This week a pair of outrageous hockey fights involving minor hockey players and parents made front-page news across Canada.

Without going into all the gruesome details, there was a fight between parents of a Tweed Ontario Bantam team and a Six Nations Bantam team and it was captured on video here.

There was also a fight and video of a brawl between Midget teams in PEI, which occurred during the post-game medal ceremony, according to reports.

When I saw those two incidents I thought about when my son was younger. I steered him away from hockey and towards curling, mostly because of the minor hockey politics and baloney. There are some great people in minor hockey, but it has its share of bozos too.

The worst parent behaviour I have seen in junior curling is a couple overzealous parents who coached behind the glass and a couple catty comments. Otherwise, the difference from curling parents and hockey parents, at least from my observation, has been night and day in difference. Curling parents are fairly laid-back compared to hockey parents.

However, at least one person thinks differently. Here's an article in the Sudbury Star from Alan Arkilander who says that takes the behaviour of curling parents to task.

You can read it here.

I am not saying that curling parents are innocent, but I'm not really sure what Arkilander has seen to make his observation:

Even in curling, I have seen poor behaviour by parents, which led the Idylwylde Junior Section to publish a one-page letter about how to behave while their child is curling. Yes folks, even in curling I have seen parents living vicariously through their children, pushing them, spending whatever it takes to get them to the next level, and dwelling on each "bad shot" or loss.
I have seen these children being taught that a win is everything to be gained at any cost, never mind development and having fun.

Anyone have any comments? Has anyone else seen some crazy parent behaviour at curling rinks from parents?

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Don't worry, she's got this

Don't worry, she's got this

I haven't checked Curling Zone and it's curling forums in the last little while, but I can almost guarantee that there was a lot of hand-wringing and people worried about Rachel Homan and her team when she started the Women's curling championships 4-3.

Me, I saw it coming a mile away. I didn't lose faith in Team Homan, --I still give them 50-50 odds of winning it all. I said that at the beginning of the worlds they might struggle a bit. Even when they were 4-3 I wasn't too concerned (although I wouldn't have bet my first-born or my house, but I still had confidence).

Here's some reasons why I thought Team Canada might struggle.

1. New...everything
The World's are a different animal. Different teams, different crowds (all 100 fans) and different ice. It takes a while to get used to the set up and get your bearings.

2. Different country
It has to be tough mentally, with jet lag, different food and different toilet paper. You might snicker, but I would be discombobulated if I didn't have my Scotties toilet paper. (Free sponsor plug)

3. Whirlwind
Since winning the Scotties it must have been hard for the team to know up from down. Media appearances, promotional appearances and just dealing with being the curling darlings. People don't realize what a whirlwind the past 2-3 weeks it has been as they juggling curling and life.

4. Unlucky
Team Homan didn't play all that bad in a few of their losses. I watched a couple of the losses and other than a few bad shots, Team Homan looked very Homan-like.
They just happened to be unlucky and the breaks didn't go there way. It happens in hockey, football and basketball. It doesn't mean you're a bad team, it just means you're unlucky.

I don't want to defend the team, just explain to people why they might not have been world-beaters right out of the gate.

Since the shaky start, Team Homan has won five straight  to earn a spot into the playoffs at the world women's curling championship in Riga, Latvia.

Homan will play in the Page playoff 3-4 game, against Russia or the United States.
Scotland (10-1) and Sweden (9-1) will play in the Page playoff 1-2 game. Both countries beat Homan in the round robin.

Even with the hiccups, Team Homan is in good shape. Would I bet my house they will win? Well, I feel very confident that they are now in control. They're just three wins away from gold, so who knows what can happen, but as I've said before, this team gets better through adversity. I would feel more confident with this team with an 8-3 record than a 11-0 or 10-1 record.

Anything can happen, but Canada has just as good a shot as anyone to win the worlds.

I think they have this.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Mixed doubles--don't knock it until you try it

Mixed doubles curling

The inaugural Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials kicked off today and will be held from March 14-17, 2013 at the Leduc Recreation Centre and Leduc Curling Club in lovely Leduc, Alberta.

What's the consensus on mixed curling? From what I've heard it's mixed. (See what I did there?)

Personally, I don't really have an opinion yet. It might be one of those things that grows on me.

I've talked to some curlers and they hate it. Many of the curlers I've talked to call it a novelty. They hate the chasing up to the rock and sweeping.  They hate the fact that curling associations are pushing mixed curling as the next big thing, even going as far as to suggest that mixed curling will be part of the Olympics in by 2018.

In the spirit of openness and honesty, I've never given mixed doubles a shot. Maybe I should play it a few times before I make my opinion.

Saying that, the more that I've thought about it, there is some things I like about mixed doubles curling.

Here's a list of things that intrigue me about the discipline of mixed doubles:

One: It gets more women involved. Curling is largely a male domain. Heck, the other night at my curling club's mixed league, of the 32 players on the ice, only six were women.
Anything that can get more women involved is a good thing.

Two: Different strategy. With more rocks in play it looks like a fun game. Additionally, with only two players, it gets both players involved in strategy and forces you to make different shots. At the very least it's good practice for regular curling.

Three: Helps people make the leap from a novice curler to a more experienced curler. In mixed doubles curling you have to be a good all-around player. I see a lot of curlers who have become one-dimensional over the years because all the do is play lead or skip. Mixed doubles will help you step up your game the more you play.

Four: My men's team will end up only going in two bonspiels this year. Know why? With four guys with different family and work schedules it's just too hard to get us all together at the same time. It would be easier with just two teammates.

Five: Offence. The mixed doubles curling offers a lot of offence. Who doesn't like offence?

Six: Fast. With only five rocks for each team an end I will assume that mixed doubles can get a game in in about 90 minutes, which is good for curlers and for television.

Seven: More curling. Are you going to argue against more curling?

Saying that, mixed doubles has a lot of room to grow. It will be interesting to see if any curling clubs start up mixed doubles leagues in the future or offer up mixed doubles bonspiels. People have to try it before they knock it.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Team building exercise

Team building exercise

What do Team Homan and Team Jacobs have in common?

They're the women's and men's Canadian curling champions?
They're both fit and athletic?
They're both young?
They're both from Ontario?
They both never been in my kitchen?

Um, yeah okay, you're correct, but the best answer is that the teams, with a couple of minor additions and changes, both Brad Jacobs' team and Rachel Homan's team has basically stayed intact since they were pre-teenagers.

I find that remarkable.

It could just be a coincidence, but it must help to play with the same team for over half of your life and you're not even close to 30 yet. It must help with team chemistry, team bonding and I am no psychologist, but it must help with team dynamics.

Perfection is being able to look your friends in the eye and know you did everything you could not to let them down. Whether it's a practice, game or workout, do you think a member of the Homan or Jacobs team can look at each other and not let the other one down? Imagine the connection that the members of Team Homan and Team Jacobs have. They've seen each other at their worst, they've seen each other at their best.

I can't speak for other provinces, but in Ontario at the Bantam and Junior level, teams are slapped together from across the province.
Take a skip from London, a vice from Brampton, a second from Brantford and a lead from Guelph, put them together and you have...well, nobody knows.
A lot of teams drive a lot of miles hoping that they can catch lightning in the bottle with four spare pieces. The funny thing is; a great team might be right under your nose. The best teammates are the people that you hang out with, go to school with and who you know their parents. It's hard to go to the wall for someone you just started playing for last month and frankly you don't really like. It's different when you've grown up with someone your whole life.

Team Homan, for the most part, grew up together in the Ottawa area. They curled together since Little Rocks. Their coach Earle Morris has coached them since back when they were into the Backstreet Boys.

Team Jacobs has been together for just as long. Tom Coulterman, junior curling coordinator at Soo Curlers Association, has coached them since they were young and was touting them back when they were just 12 years-old.

The bulk of the team has been together since high school. In matter of fact, E. J. Harnden was the skip, Ryan Harnden was the second and Brad Jacobs was the lead when they led Sir James Dunn Collegiate out of Sault Ste. Marie to an Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association title in Thunder Bay in 2002. Former teammate Caleb Flaxey was vice.
Fast-forward 11 years and the majority of the team (in different positions) won the Brier.
(Yeah, I know Ryan Fry is an addition this year and he is from outside the province, but he was a good addition).

By the way, the Soo Crew beat Peterborough's John Epping 7-2 in the OFSAA final back in 2002. Whatever happened to that Epping guy?

In the next few months, curling teams from across Canada will let some players go, add some players and then try and make it work. Why not follow Team Homan and Team Jacobs' lead and play with your buddies from Little Rocks curling. It worked out pretty well for them. Sometimes sticking it out with the ones you grew up with is the best option and probably the funnest option.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Final Brier thoughts

Final Brier thoughts

As I type this Brad Jacobs and Jeff Stoughton and their teams are warming up for the final.

I planned on watching the heck out of this Brier, but my own curling, my kids curling and other factors led to me only watching a few games on television. I had hoped to watch about 20 hours of curling this week, but truth be told I probably watched half of that.

Even when I had an evening free, I feel asleep in the ninth end and woke up when the game was over. This old horse can rarely make it past 11 p.m. anymore, especially with the late draws being held an hour or two later because they're out in Alberta.

Anyways, here is a few thoughts on what I saw and heard during the past week of Brier action.

Friday night
If there is one memory that will Friday night. The crowd. The excitement. Friday night with the playoff chase and exciting games will be the highlight moment of Brier 2013.
With the crowds at the 2010 Olympics and this Brier crowd, it shows things are changing. This is no longer your grandparents Brier.
Almost makes it worth being there instead of watching on television....almost.

Kudos for the Canadian Curling Association in using new stones, as they’re the same type of stones that will be used at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. It's good for players to get used to them before they make the trek to the Olympics.
However, while the stones were used at the Canadian junior curling championships, they threw everyone for a loop by making their debut at the Brier.
Curlers are a funny sort, change is okay, not just when it counts the most. The new curling stones threw everyone for a loop. It would've been nice if they had been used at a variety of events before the Brier so teams could compare notes.
Better planning could've made the rocks less of an issue during the first few days of the Brier.

Social media
Curling has a growing presence on social-media. If you're not following your favourite curlers or teams on Twitter or Facebook, do so now. You know in the future it will be come all corporate and it will not be as engaging or accessible as it is now.
Also kudos to Curling Zone and their curling forum. A great way for curling fans from across the country to talk about the game they love.

Started the week looking horrible and then went on a magical run.
They started out at 1-4 and it seemed the world was collapsing on them. You have to give the team credit, as they bounced back and finished 7-4 including victories over Newfoundland’s Brad Gushue and Ontario’s Glenn Howard.

It was only the second time in 12 Briers that Martin hasn’t qualified for the playoffs.

It will be interesting to see how Martin's crew bounces back and if they can put it together to try and qualify for another Olympic spot. They've already qualified for the 2013 Olympic Trials at Winnipeg in December.

Last kick at the can
Will this be the last Brier appearance for Glenn Howard, Jeff Stoughton or Kevin Martin? We hope not, but Howard and Stoughton are on the wrong side of 50 and Martin is 46 and is starting to show his age. How long can they keep it up?

Weak teams
I am not a big fan of relegation, but would British Columbia, PEI or Nova Scotia even qualify for the provincials in Ontario, Alberta or Manitoba? There is a huge chasm between the bottom three teams and the top 4-5 teams.
All three bottom-feeder teams looked over-matched all week.

Bronze medal game
I've been a lone wolf in showing some love and appreciation for the Bronze medal game. So I was a bit dismayed to come home Sunday afternoon and not be able to watch the Bronze medal match on TSN or TSN2. From what I hear the game was just available online. Either TSN is going to cover the Brier from beginning to end or they're not. It also shows to fans that the game means little if TSN2 is not showing it.
I like the Bronze medal game, but it's obvious that not only are the players not crazy about it, so are the broadcasters.
Also, since I am on a rant, would it kill TSN Sportscentre to show more than a minute of Brier highlights? It seems every hour has 33 minutes of NHL highlights, 7 minutes of NHL rumours, 6 minutes of soccer, 4 minutes of NBA highlights and then in minute 51, just after a live report from the Maple Leafs practice, we get a curling update. Is this as good as it is going to get?

Final prediction
I lost a $10 bet betting against Jeff Stoughton in 2011 at the Brier in London. Maybe I can get my money back this year—Manitoba 7, Northern Ontario 5.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Unofficial Brier all-star team

Unofficial Brier all-star team

What a week it was. Alberta struggled and then got it back on track. Newfoundland, Ontario and Manitoba looked good just about all week. Northern Ontario and Quebec also played well.

For some teams it was a struggle. Yeah, we're looking at you PEI and British Columbia.

Either way, kudos to the teams because Friday produced some exciting moments as Alberta came within a hair of making the playoff round and Jeff Stoughton made a nice draw to at least quiet the Rexall crowd and smash Alberta's hopes.

The all-stars used to be voted on by the media, but the system was changed a few years ago and the awards are now handed out on the basis of shooting percentage during the round robin. 

UPDATE: Nope. I am wrong. The media still votes on the all-stars. It's just the Scotties that goes by straight percentages.
Stats are a good way to judge how a player curled, but just like batting average or goals against average, it doesn't tell the whole story, as there are other variables that can come into play as well as other stats. Especially at the lead position. If you're team is losing, your shots are easier. If you're a lead on a team that has the lead in a lot of games, you're shots are a bit tougher.
Therefore, here is my all-star teams that I picked based on what I saw this week. The official all star list will be released probably tonight.
First-team: Ben Hebert, Alberta. In my mind the best lead and sweeper in the world. Also remember he also had to shot with all the bad rocks and he still had a 91 percentage.
Second-team: Craig Savill, Ontario. One of the best in the game. Kept Ontario in good shape.
Honourable Mention: Mark Nichols, Manitoba. Has settled into the lead position nicely after years at Third.

First-team: Brent Laing, Ontario. Only had two games where he shot below 90 percent.
Second-team: Reid Carruthers, Manitoba. Got Manitoba out of trouble a lot of times.
Honourable mention: Marc Kennedy, Alberta. Had one bad game early, other than that he played well, especially when Alberta got on a roll.
Also mention E.J. Harden from Northern Ontario.

First-team: Jon Mead, Manitoba. This guy has been so good for so long. Scary thing about Mead is that he performs at his best during the big games.
Second-team: Wayne Middaugh, Ontario. Mead and Middaugh are two of the best vices out there. Middaugh was a first-team lock until the last game when he faltered a bit.
Despite his age, Middaugh can still bring the heat.
Honourable mention: Martin Crete, Quebec. Helped Quebec grind out a few wins. Also should mention Northern Ontario's Ryan Fry.

First-team: Glenn Howard, Ontario. How come this guy gets better with age? A quick Glenn Howard story. We had a hankerin' for some chicken wings so we ordered some wings from a local joint. We get there to pick them up around supper time and the bar had curling on television. While we were waiting we saw Glenn Howard make a dandy shot. One of the bar flys who had probably been drinking at the bar since noon and looked like he hangs around with the Hell's Angels, looked up at the television and said, "jeez, that bald guy doesn't miss a shot."
We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
Second-team: Brad Gushue, Newfoundland. Had a great week. Really patient and called a good game for the most part.
Honourable mention: Jeff Stoughton, Manitoba. We loved that little fist-pump towards the crowd on Friday night.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Bad boys

The Curling News had an interesting tidbit about the alleged behaviour of a Team Alberta player at the Brier:

From The Curling News:

According to sources, one of the Alberta competitors removed his player microphone and receiver and threw the equipment against a rink board, causing an estimated $4,000 in damage. Team Alberta has since paid TSN for the cost of the equipment, and a subsequent warning was issued to the entire field of athletes.

Anyone have anymore details they want to share? Feel free to email us at

Would love to have a few more details. In matter of fact, if you've seen any other bad behaviour at this year's Brier let us know. 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Brier attendance

Brier attendance

Judging by the crowds I see on television, attendance looks kinda sparse in Edmonton this year, which must concern the CCA honchos a bit because Edmonton is the flagship  venue for the Brier.

Through 10 draws, just over 70,000 fans had attended the Brier. Attendance will pick up this weekend and the final should be close to being sold out.

However, it will be doubtful that attendance will be over the 200,000 that organizers are shooting for, which is also a long ways off from the almost 282,000 that came in 2005.
(As an aside: you can bet that Brier organizers will pull out all stops to say they hit 200,000, even if it means a little creative accounting.)

Monday night it looked really empty in the building, as attendance dipped to under 6,000.

Why the low crowds?:

1. No Alberta. Well Alberta is here, but Kevin Martin and his team is struggling. It's no fun to watch a train wreck. This has to account for a loss of 20,000 tickets. If by all miracles Team Martin makes the playoffs or even a tie-breaker, all that praying by the CCA and organizers will have paid off.

2. I know I keep beating this horse, but watching curling on television is getting to be a lot better than in person. While attendance numbers are down, television numbers are strong. Old people like curling. Old people like to be in their house after 6 p.m.

3. NHL.If the lockout dragged on and closed down the season Edmonton sports fans would be desperate for big-time action. Instead, the NHL came back in January and took away the media and sporting spotlight from the Brier when organizers were out selling tickets and building momentum.
When the Brier was held in Edmonton last time the NHL season went kaput. That has to account for a loss of ticket sales.

The Brier will be played at the 6,400-seat Kamloops Interior Savings Centre next year. It will be interesting to see if smaller is better.

Top attendance at Brier
2005Rexall Place (Edmonton) 281,985
2000Saskatchewan Place (Saskatoon) 248,793
2009Pengrowth Saddledome (Calgary) 246,126
2002Pengrowth Saddledome (Calgary) 245,296
1999Skyreach Centre (Edmonton) 242,887
2004Saskatchewan Place (Saskatoon) 238,129
1997CAI Saddledome (Calgary) 223,322
2008MTS Centre (Winnipeg) 165,075
2003Metro Centre (Halifax) 158,414
2001Civic Centre (Ottawa) 154,136
1989Saskatchewan Place (Saskatoon) 151,538
1998Winnipeg Arena (Winnipeg) 147,017
1994Centrium (Red Deer) 130,625
1993Civic Centre (Ottawa) 130,076
1996Riverside Coliseum (Kamloops) 127,746
2006Brandt Centre (Regina) 125,971
1995Metro Centre (Halifax) 121,896

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Mid-week Brier thoughts

Mid-week Brier thoughts

Half-way through the Brier there is a few things that are now apparent on what is a beautiful sunny Wednesday morning here in Ontario.

Two out of three ain't bad.
Going into the Brier the general consensus of prognosticators was that there was a Big 3 of Stoughton, Howard and Martin and they would all take one step ahead of the field.
Well, two out of three aren't bad, as Stoughton (5-1) and Howard (6-0) are pretty well who we thought they would be.
Kevin Martin—not so much.
Where do you start? Martin has limped out to a 2-4 start, but it's how they've looked that has had people raising their eyebrows. I've never seen a Kevin Martin team struggle like this.
You can see by their body language that they're not in sync with each other and the game.
Other thoughts are that Newfoundland (6-0) and Quebec (5-1) are both contenders, with Northern Ontario (4-2) also in the hunt.

Future skips
Being a skip takes a lot of different qualities.
First, you have to be a leader.
Second, you have to be able to make shots consistently. If you shoot in the 70s your team will lose all the time.
Third, you have to have the right personality. I can't put my finger on it but either a curler has it or doesn't have it. I call it skipiness.
I don't think I have skipiness and will be a front-end player for the rest of my curling career, which is okay.
On my men's team I am a lead. On my mixed team I am a second and I think I do both of those roles well.
I was thinking of this the other night, as injuries and other factors led me to being promoted to skip in our mixed league. I did okay, but we ended up losing 9-4, as a couple missed guards by me led our team to giving up a big end.
Watching the Hotshots competition the other day at the start of the Brier led me to think about a couple things, including: in a couple years Alberta's Marc Kennedy is going to be a heck of a skip.
He can make just about every shot and after all of these years playing with Martin, you would hope that all of that experience should count for something.
Here is my list of players who are playing different positions now, but we will see in future Briers or Scotties as skips:

Marc Kennedy, Alberta—Fantastic player who can make any shot.
Ryan Fry, Northern Ontario—One of the best third's out there. Can make a lot of shots.
Brett Gallant, Newfoundland (PEI)—Showed in juniors he is an elite skip, winning Canadian juniors in 2009. Just needs experience, as he is only 23.
Braeden Moskowy, Saskatchewan—Same as Gallant, except Moskowy won juniors in 2011.
Note: Didn't include John Morris and Wayne Midaugh, as they're former skips who have been to the Brier as skips.

Kaitlyn Lawes (Manitoba)--Best young curler west of Ontario. I foresee here going head-to-head against Rachel Homan for the next decade after Jennifer Jones steps aside.

Prop bets
One thing I enjoy about watching the Super Bowl is prop bets.
Prop bets are bets that are not on the game, but things that happen in the game, such as which team will win the coin-flip, if a team will have a 100-yard rusher, who will score the first touchdown, etc.
I wish we could have prop bets on the Brier. Here is a few prop bets I would like to see and bet on:
-Will PEI win a game?
-Will British Columbia win more than one game?
-Who will break a broom over their knee first?
-Which team will give up five points first?

Feature game
This afternoon's feature game on TSN is between Northern Ontario and Quebec. Both teams have played well so far. This game is just about a must-win for Northern Ontario if they want to sniff the playoffs.
Even though TSN has not made it official, I assume the Manitoba-Newfoundland tilt will be the feature game tonight.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Good read about Bryan Mudryk

Good read about Bryan Mudryk

Regular readers of this blog know my feelings towards Vic Rauter. He's the king. No question.

Bryan Mudryk is the next great curling broadcaster and should take over as TSN's top curling announcer from Vic whenever Rauter decides to retire whenever that is. If Vic is king, then Mudryk, who has been TSN's secondary curling announcer since 2009, is the prince-in-waiting.

He's a little hyper, but you can tell he has a passion for curling.

Saying that, check out this story from Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones about Mudryk's battle(s) with cancer.

Jones doesn't break any new ground here, it's common knowledge that Mudryk has battled cancer in the past and has been a great fundraiser for the Cross Cancer Institute.

In the story Mudryk, an Alberta native, talks about the 1999 Brier, and watching it from his hospital bed while fighting cancer. Jones hits a home run with this story.
My quibble with the story is that Jones says that Mudryk watched the 1999 Brier from his hospital bed, but this story story from Mudryk's website says he battled cancer in March of 2000. Oh well, still a good story.

But the thing that got me in this story is Mudryk talking about leaving the hospital. It's a moment that is right out of the movie. 
From the Edmonton Sun:

Mudryk remembers the day he walked out of the Cross Cancer Institute after that 1999 Brier.

When my mom pushed me out the hospital I said 'Mom, I'm going to raise a million dollars for the Cross Cancer Institute.' She laughed then but she loves to tell that story now.
I started the Bryan Mudryk Golf Classic at the Skeleton Lake Golf Club where where I worked cutting greens and fairways when I was first taking chemo.
We provide five scholarships each year for young people battling cancer.
At this year's tournament we'll reach one million dollars.”

Damn right he's going to reach one million dollars. As someone who has a sibling that has gone into Cross Cancer Institute three times to battle cancer (and came out on top all three times), you know that I will do anything and everything in my power to make sure Mudryk hits his goal this summer.

WARNING: Saskatchewan curling language ahead.

Fuck you cancer.

Monday morning Brier thoughts

From our Monday moaning mind...

Hats off to you
We haven't been watching curling for a long time, so we don't know if this is a recent phenomenon or not in men's curling, but what's the deal with curlers (mostly younger curlers) wearing ball caps and bandanas when they're playing?
We consider ourselves kinda hip, so we kinda sound like a grump old man when we say this, but we're not sure we like it. It just looks sloppy....
Now if we could get a team to wear tams or fedoras, well that might be acceptable, but a blue bandana makes you look like an extra from a gritty Michael Jackson video.

Get your rocks off
Am I the only one who kinda likes the fact that curlers are having a hard adjusting to the new curling stones?
First, a little controversy kinda spices things up.
Second, I kinda like the unknown. You never know what's going to happen. Instead of missing a draw by a foot, these guys are missing them by six feet. Makes for interesting play.

Feature game
TSN will feature Northern Ontario (3-0) versus Alberta (1-2) in the afternoon draw. A good chance for Northern Ontario to show that they are for real.
A third loss for Kevin Martin's crew and they are in a deep hole.

Tick shot
I am behind on my curling terminology,  can we all agree that the tick shot should now be called the Weagle?

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Random Sunday morning Brier thoughts

Random Sunday morning Brier thoughts

New stones
Seems players are having a hard time adjusting to the new curling stones at the Brier.

When I was a novice curler I always thought that rock matching and curlers claiming stones are different was a lot of bunk. But now that I've played for a few years and have experienced a few other curling clubs, I now know that there is some validity that all rocks are not the same and perform differently. At my club there are a few stones that travel a bit differently. There is one rock that you can hit on the nose and there is no guarantee that it's going to run straight back. Another rock you have to throw hack weight to get to the four-foot.
Brad Gushue's teammates
Seems everyone has played with Brad Gushue at one time or another. Manitoba's Mark Nichols, Saskatchewan's Chris Schille and Northern Ontario's Ryan Fry are all former Team Gushue members.
Team Ontario skip Glenn Howard's brother Russ also played with Gushue.
The way that Gushue changes teammates, you can now play the seven degrees of Brad Gushue game. Every curler is just seven degrees away.

Curling families
If you talk about with the Brier participants you will hear that curling is part of their family lineage.
For example, Saskatchewan lead D.J. Kidby and Alberta lead Ben Hebert are cousins. Alternates Scott Howard (Ontario) and Karrick Martin (Alberta) have famous dads that you might have heard of.

I might expand on this later...but is there a better Brier host than Edmonton? The Stoughton-Martin game was exciting to watch, but it was even better with a large crowd of 10,000 on hand.
Not only was the crowd large, it was electric which makes for a fun atmosphere even if you're watching on television.

Game of the day
Stoughton meets Howard in the Sunday evening draw. Hunker down, as this one should be a good one.

Not shot of the day
We've all been there. Make a shot and your team scores a point or two. Miss it and it's disastorious. It happens to club curlers all the time.
It happened to Nova Scotia's Ian Fitzner-LeBlanc on Saturday against Newfoundland.
The Nova Scotia third, who throws final stones for his team, missed with his final rock in the sixth end leaving Brad Gushue a simple draw for five—game over.
That's the great thing about curling (or golf) every once in a while you make a great shot like the pros. Also, every once in a while the pros miss a shot just like you do every Thursday night.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Brier Preview

Brier Preview

Who is the team at this year's Brier that is going to breakthrough? One or two teams will make a run, at Stoughton, Howard or Martin, which team will it be?

The 2013 Brier field is deep, really deep.

The fans in Edmonton should be in for a good treat. Talking about fans, the last time the Brier was in Edmonton, a Brier attendance record was held--281,985.

Remember what I said about how television is now a better option than watching live? I would be surprised if they get within three-quarters of that goal (211,000) as attendance is expected to be just over 200,000. Why head to the arena when you can watch on TV?

On to the projections.

A couple weeks I had some fun with the Scotties preview and interjected a little bit of a Tragically Hip homage. So in the spirit of Edmonton I will use their most famous musical import, which is...k.d. Lang? Moe Berg? Has any band came out of Edmonton?

Screw it, here is how I rank the teams.

Well, everyone knows there is the Big 3—Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba. I could take the conventional choice and pick one of them.
These teams are clearly the cream of the crop and I would be surprised if any of the Big 3 finishes out of the playoffs. Instead I will rank the underdogs. I think that this Brier will have some upsets and one of the Big 3 will miss the playoffs.

A great thing about this Brier is that due to the Olympics next year and the age of Stoughton, Martin and Howard—this might be the swan-song for the Big 3. Might as well enjoy them while we have them because I am betting we won't see any of the Big 3 by 2015 for sure.

Northern Ontario – These guys are still relatively young, but they have a bunch of experience, as Brad Jacobs' crew has been to the Brier five times. If a couple breaks go their way, there is no reason why this team shouldn't be in the playoffs and who knows what can happen in a winner takes all situation.
I will stick my neck out and say that they will make their way to the finals against one of the big three.

Saskatchewan – Bad boys, bad boys whatcha' going to do? Brock Virtue and his team is as talented as any other team, it's just a case of keeping their emotions in check and gaining some more experience. Definitely a team to watch.

Newfoundland and Labrador – Brad Gushue is so close. Only 32, he has 10 Brier appearances and a Olympic gold medal. How many Brier appearances will this guy finish with when he is finally done? Twenty? Twenty-five? Thirty?

Quebec – Remember when Jean-Michel Menard won the Brier in 2006? Seems like a generation ago. Even though he has a title, it seems like a fluke for his team to do it again.

New Brunswick—Jimmy the Kid is one of my favourite curlers. Here's my prediction, they start off at 4-1, they're the darlings of the Brier, then they lose three or four feature games on TSN and all of a sudden they finish at 5-6.

Northwest Territories – Hard to believe that this team made the playoffs last year. Probably the highlight for NWT curling last year. Heck, probably the highlight for any sport in NWT ever.

British ColumbiaAndrew Bilesky and his rink will give one of the Big 3 a good game at the Brier, but that will probably be their only highlight on what is their first trip to the show.
Just glad that B.C. finally sent a young team.

Nova Scotia –Paul Flemming. This guy is still curling? Could be a long week for Nova Scotia...but not as long a week as...

PEI – If Eddie Mackenzie makes the playoffs, I will move to PEI, establish permanent residency and enter a team in the PEI men's championships next winter.

About Me

southwestern Ontario, Canada
I am a curling junkie. Wanted to create one spot to bring fans of the roaring game together, for information, news and thoughts about curling.