The curling fans of Newfoundland could not have been more proud and enthusiastic for the local Brad Gushue rink winning the 2017 Brier on home turf. Actually, it has been said that no one in Newfoundland could be more excited than the 4 men who just won Newfoundland’s 2nd Brier title ever. Well there is huge group of people I think I know that might be more excited than the Gushue team was after winning the title. These would be the curlers of Newfoundland (or former NL curlers who moved away) that have not had a crack at the NL Tankard since Brad Gushue entered the men’s ranks in 2003. Actually, I should scale that forward in time since one team not called Brad Gushue has been to the Brier representing the province in those two decades but only because Brad didn’t compete in the 2006 Tankard since he was busy getting ready for the 2006 Olympics.
Days after Brad hoisted the Brier trophy over his head, it is said that over 200 new curlers flocked to the curling rink in his hometown of St. John’s, NL.
I called it the night that they won the Brier and I’m putting it on paper now… Newfoundland Curling Association should be ecstatic for the high number of entries they will see in the 2018 Newfoundland Tankard. Actually the association should be jumping on this opportunity to help grow the competitive Tankard entries in the province now that they have that opportunity. Get as many teams as possible to register. Gather the number of entries you have and determine what playdown scenario you will need to implement because I can guarantee you one thing, it will not be an open spiel because there will be more than 6 or 7 teams registered wanting to win that title. Days after Brad hoisted the Brier trophy over his head, it is said that over 200 new curlers flocked to the curling rink in his hometown of St. John’s, NL. Now that should be something that the local clubs and the association should be ecstatic about.
For a lot of curlers on “The Rock”, this is an opportunity of a lifetime. Actually, this probably even brings some former NL curlers who moved away back home at least for a year to hopefully represent their province at the Brier. Maybe some of the home teams reach out to some experienced curlers across the country, bring them in as their 1 import that is allowed at the Brier, to bring in that one piece of the puzzle that makes them stronger as a whole. Whatever the case may be, it’s going to be a great year for the Newfoundland Curling Association and for all the competitors who may just finally get to win that purple heart and be NL champs!
Now a lot of people have already speculated that the next champion may lie in the hands of the newly crowned Canadian University champions team Adam Boland as they were the runner ups to Gushue in the 2017 Tankard Finals. I wouldn’t mark that down on paper just yet though. I will give them credit that they are strong and could be one of the favorites to win but I know for a fact that this is going to be one strong field of teams reaching for that lifetime dream of theirs to make it to the Brier or even returning to the Brier. I’m sure the 2015 Travelers Curling Club National champions team of Andrew Symonds are hoping to make a run at the title with Gushue out of the picture for 2018. Will you see someone like Ryan LeDrew move back home to “The Rock”? Will Jamie Korab gather a bunch of talented curlers to make a run at winning the province as a skip? Will some of the older curlers come back out of retirement? Will a powerhouse curling athlete from out West skip a local team as an import? These are all questions that can yet be answered but definitely will be addressed in the upcoming months as curlers prepare to start the 2017-2018 curling season.
I know personally for the last several years, I haven’t paid much attention to the NL Curling scene because Brad Gushue has been winning Tankard titles with his eyes closed and many of the NL teams do not leave “The Rock” to go play on the Atlantic Curling Tour, the Ontario Curling Tour, or the World Curling Tour. That said though, you might see some of the teams go out and get that experience this year and prepare for the Brier because as everyone knows, club ice is NOTHING like arena ice. The downfall for many of these teams is not getting to experience how large the Brier actually is though. There isn’t a single event that you can play in during the season that draws the large crowds like the Brier. That alone is another obstacle a new team at the Brier faces. But let’s be real, even just making it to the Brier next year will be a task accomplished and something to build on.
With that said, I will be paying close attention to what is going on in Newfoundland this upcoming season and might even just make my predictions on how each team should fair out at Provincials based on numbers I will see leading to the event. This should be an exciting year for Newfoundlanders, Newfies, Newfs, whatever you want to call them. I hope every curler that has at least some amount of talent make it a point to put in effort to strive for the 2018 Newfoundland Tankard title and make it the best Provincial the province has seen in years. They should also take this opportunity to better themselves and possibly get ready to face Gushue the following year… Unless of course Gushue repeats as Brier Champion representing Team Canada in 2018. Until then, enjoy your summer and best of luck during the CashSpiel season this fall leading to provincials.
Pierre M. Fraser
Burned Stone Curling