Sports Alberta's Bottcher hands Wild Card Three's Middaugh his first loss at the Brier
Wayne's World: Wild-card skip Middaugh leads championship pool at the Brier
CALGARY — Craig Savill recalls a mantra that Wayne Middaugh followed back when they were teammates. "He always said, 'The round robin is for practising. The playoffs are for real.'" It's a line that should make other teams shudder at the Canadian men's curling championship. Middaugh was one of the top skips in the preliminary round at the Tim Hortons Brier and isn't letting up now that the championship pool is underway. He guided Wild Card Three to a 9-5 victory over Saskatchewan's Matt Dunstone on Friday afternoon at the Markin MacPhail Centre.
CALGARY — Manitoba's Jason Gunnlaugson moved into sole possession of first place in Pool A at the Canadian men's curling championship on Monday after an 8-5 victory over Wild Card One's Mike McEwen.
Gunnlaugson was the only unbeaten skip in the nine-team pool at 3-0.
"It's a good start but it's a long, long week," Gunnlaugson said.
Alberta's Brendan Bottcher defeated Wild Card Three's Wayne Middaugh 5-3 to hand the veteran skip his first loss of the preliminary round.
Bottcher, who has reached the Tim Hortons Brier final in each of the last three years, earned a critical steal in the eighth end of the 5-3 win when Middaugh was light on his draw.
Wild Card Two's Koe beats Wild Card Three's Middaugh to secure top seed at Brier
CALGARY — In a Canadian men's curling championship loaded with uncertainty, one of its most consistent performers keeps on delivering. The next step for top-seeded Kevin Koe is a chance at another Tim Hortons Brier title and a spot in the record books. The Wild Card Two skip defeated Wild Card Three's Wayne Middaugh 7-6 on Saturday night to earn a direct berth into the final. Koe's Alberta-based team secured the first seed in the championship pool at 10-2. Koe will face the winner of Sunday's semifinal between Saskatchewan's Matt Dunstone and Alberta's Brendan Bottcher. "That's why we curl," said Koe second John Morris.
"It's early in the week but these wins count as much as the ones on Thursday, Friday and Saturday," Bottcher said. "You need to win them while you can.
"We played a really good game there and it was nice to cap it off and pull out the W."
In other afternoon games, British Columbia's Steve Laycock dumped Yukon's Dustin Mikkelsen 9-2 and New Brunswick's James Grattan edged Northern Ontario's Brad Jacobs 7-6 in an extra end.
Gunnlaugson, who was 5-6 in his Brier main draw debut last year, has already knocked off two expected contenders in McEwen and Bottcher.
"It's hard to put into words how valuable it is to have a guy like Jay on your team," Manitoba lead Connor Njegovan. "Everything is so planned out and when he's hitting well, it's very hard to stop us."
Wayne Middaugh leads Howard rink to victory in its opening game of Tim Hortons Brier
CALGARY — When Wayne Middaugh first joined Glenn Howard's team as a fifth, a utilityman role was planned: a veteran backup who could help strategize, provide guidance and have a little playing time mixed in. It turns out he'll be much more than a traditional alternate at the Canadian men's curling championship. With Howard still nursing sore ribs after a recent snowmobile accident, Middaugh has been thrust into the skip role for the Ontario-based Wild Card Three team. In his first competitive game in over five years, the Canadian Curling Hall of Famer delivered on Saturday at the WinSport Arena.
New Brunswick and Alberta were tied in second place at 3-1. Wild Card One and Northern Ontario were 2-2 while B.C. improved to 1-2.
Middaugh is filling in at skip for Glenn Howard, who injured his ribs in a recent snowmobile crash. Howard is serving as the team fifth this week.
The Northwest Territories (0-3) and Yukon (0-4) remained winless.
Pool B teams were to square off in Monday's late draw at the WinSport Arena.
Kevin Koe's first-place Wild Card Two (4-0) was to meet Nunavut's Peter Mackey (0-3) and Saskatchewan's Matt Dunstone was to face Canada's Brad Gushue in a battle of 2-1 rinks.
Quebec's Michael Fournier (3-1), who was tied in second place with idle Ontario skip John Epping, was to play Nova Scotia's Scott McDonald (2-2).
P.E.I.'s Eddie MacKenzie (0-3) was to take on Greg Smith of Newfoundland and Labrador (0-4) in the other game.
The preliminary round continues through Thursday night at the Markin MacPhail Centre on the grounds of Canada Olympic Park. The top four teams in each pool will advance to the two-day championship round.
The final is set for Sunday night. The winner will represent Canada at the world men's curling championship next month at the same venue.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2021.
The Canadian Press
Canadian men's curling championship final ratings down 33 per cent from 2020 .
Ratings for the Canadian men's curling final tumbled significantly compared to the championship game in the 2020 season. Brendan Bottcher defeated Wild Card Two's Kevin Koe on Sunday night at Calgary's Markin MacPhail Centre for his first career Tim Hortons Brier title. The final drew an average audience of 728,000 viewers, down 33 per cent from the 1.09 million who watched the year before, according to Numeris data provided by rightsholder TSN. The drop follows a similar ratings decrease for last month's Canadian women's curling championship, the first of seven major events to be held in the spectator-free Canada Olympic Park venue.