Registered: Sep 2002
Location: London, Ontario
CurlingZone's Predictions - The Brier of Champions
The Brier of Champions
How perfect is it that the self-proclaimed City of Champions is the host of the Brier of Champions, maybe the greatest name brand field ever assembled for the title of Canadian Curling Champion 2013. Looking back, we could probably find example of Briers that turned out to be greater, but we know all these teams here and now this time.
Four past Brier champion skips with their teams having participated in 14 combined years of Canadian Men’s titles. And last we can’t forget the two Olympic Gold Medals and a Silver medal mixed in. This is going to be a week of memories along with looking forward as we all wonder how many more years these Best of the Best have left in the game.
Eddie MacKenzie (PEI) – Back again with a new mate after a 1-10 appearance in London in 2011, Anson Carmody added to the lineup this team this season provides some nationals pedigree, albeit in Juniors. One win could be generous in this field, and usually someone has an off game. 1-10
Andrew Bilesky (BC) – The only rookie team in the field, they picked a bad year to debut. Finalists in the Westcoast Classic this year, they’re certainly good enough, but this is a field that will be tough for any team to break through but this team will gain the experience that will benefit a future visit back to hallowed ground. 3-8
James Grattan (NB) – Didn’t look great in the New Brunswick provincials, needing to battle his way after a slow start but Grattan has the experience of X appearances and could inevitably make a run and sneak into the playoffs. But not this year, not in this field. 3-8
Paul Flemming (NS) – Remember 2005 in Edmonton when Paul Flemming threw third stones for Shawn Adams? A cherished memory and probably a pipe dream this week, but a now healthy Flemming will at a minimum dent some armour this week and play for the Bluenose Pride. 4-7
Jame Koe (NWT) – The Pride of the Patch, Keep Calm will be the motto of the week for Koe who made a Cinderella run last season into the Bronze Medal game. If Koe finds lightning in a bottle again, they could repeat, but I’m afraid the clock has struck midnight on the Polar Bear Express. 4-7
Call Me, Maybe?
Brock Virtue (SK) – The Bad Boys of Curling are the hardest team to prognosticate. Lots of talent here as Virtue defeated Kevin Martin twice in last year’s Alberta Provincials and promptly dumped them for this new team. Third Braeden Moskowy is a recent Canadian Junior Champion and mastermind Chris Schille was one game away from the title in 2007 with Brad Gushue. 5-6
Jean-Michel Menard (QC) – 2006 Champions Menard and Eric Sylvain hope to recreate some of that glory, when Menard surprised Glenn Howard in that final. A deep field this year will make it tough to do again, but Menard has the talent to be a playoff team and it's very reasonable to see them sneak out one more win and advance to the next tier. 6-5
Fit to be Tied
Brad Jacobs (NO) – “Brier Shore” boys have had a great season, adding Ryan Fry into the lineup and the team has taken off running. A Grand Slam finals appearance and qualifying in the other two, Jacobs and his team are ready to contend. (7-4)
Glenn Howard (ON) – My surprise of the Brier, the Howard team just hasn’t been as sharp as last year. Started the season late in mid October and even then played that first event with three for most of their games. Inconsistency has been Howard moniker this season, having won a Grand Slam title, but failing to qualify in the other two. Three losses in Ontario provincials the most in a long time. Which team will show up? (7-4)
Brad Gushue (NL) – The team has oodles of experience and a leader who’s been through the fight before. 2006 Olympic Champions and 2007 Brier runner-up, Gushue has taken teams deep in the past, and he’ll find a way into 3rd place here in Edmonton after the Round Robin. His lineup is due to breakout at any point, and after swapping Brett Gallant and Adam Casey in the order they showed signs of life in the last Grand Slam in January. (8-3)
Writing a Page for the Final
Kevin Martin (AB) – The Old Bear is still the giant in name alone, but another team without a lot to prove. They’ve won it all and since their 2010 Olympic Gold Medal, they haven’t been at that pinnacle of unbeatable dominant team. Flashes of brilliance still apply, but coming into the Brier, Team Martin is ranked 5th overall on the Order of Merit World Rankings. How long ago can you say Martin sat that low? (9-2)
The Champion of Champions
Jeff Stoughton (MB) – A feather in the cap to win this one, and Stoughton is my pick. With Mark Nichols added to the lineup, this is the best team Jeff has ever fielded and they’ve been the best team on Tour this season of the teams qualified (Kevin Koe #1, Stoughton #2), winners of the Canada Cup and The National 2013 – Grand Slam event in January. The scrambled through Manitoba provincials on two healthy players after the flu ravaged the lineup early and they come into this event under the media and fans radar. But they should be the favourites. (9-2 and Hammer in the Final)
The Stoughton team brings the right balance of moderate aggression and should be the team to run with the Earle Morris – Team Homan tick guard strategy. Mark Nichols is the one to execute on it, having missed only a handful of tick shots all season and his resume of talents certainly make him worthy of the challenge.
On to the Patch! Keep Calm and Koe On!
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