Despite being on the wrong side of the scoreboard in many games, Jeff Currie believes his Brier experience was a positive one.
Skip Jeff Currie and his Northern Ontario rink from the Fort William Curling Club, the first Thunder Bay team to reach the Tim Horton's Brier since 2003, concluded their run at the Canadian men’s curling championships in Kamloops with a 2-9 record last week.
Currie, a former junior national champion who was making his Brier debut, doesn’t believe the result necessarily matched the level of play.
“I feel like we played well,” Currie said when reached by telephone on Tuesday after arriving back in Thunder Bay.
“We just ended up on the wrong side in a lot of cases. We had a few extra ends and we were in every game but sometimes you miss by an inch and it gives somebody an opportunity for a whole bunch.”
That was discovered quickly in their matches with some of the elite teams, as evidenced by a three-game stretch that had them face off against Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba. Those teams combined to compile a final record of 23-10.
Looking back at their Draw 9 contest against the eventual champion Kevin Koe and his squad from Alberta, the game was within reach until he opened the door and allowed a steal of three in the fifth end.
“They’re almost surgical,” he said of Alberta. “They struggled for the first half against us but if you give them an opportunity they’ll take it.”
There were some bright spots through the week, namely second Colin Koivula averaging 85 per cent for the tournament, which placed him in a tie for fourth among all players at his position.
One of the biggest adjustments for the skip was getting used to calling a game on the arena ice at the Interior Savings Centre in Kamloops compared to the club ice at the Port Arthur and Fort William Curling Clubs.
“It’s night and day,” Currie said of the difference between the two types of surfaces.
“It’s easier in lots of aspects and more difficult in other aspects. It actually changes the way you call a game because there are so many different shots that are makeable.”
While finding draw weight and reading the line of the ice came fairly quickly, Currie admitted it took a little bit of time to get a hang of calling strategy with so many more options being available.
The plan now for the Currie is to return to the Brier next year, which would make him the first man since Al Hackner in the late 1980’s to lead a Thunder Bay team to the event in back-to-back years.
Having gotten past the challenge of getting there should make things easier, but that won’t likely be the case.
The return of 2012 champion and recent Olympic gold medalist Brad Jacobs and his team from Sault Ste. Marie to the picture should make things more complicated. .
“That hurdle is huge to get it out of your mind that can be done. Obviously playing against Brad is not the easiest at the best of times.
Currie will take to the ice this weekend at the Port Arthur Curling Club where he has a bye to the final of the Tbaytel Cup skins event.
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