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As reported on Sportsnet during the Champions Cup women’s final, Pat Simmons of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan will join Team Bottcher out of Edmonton. Simmons will slide in to replace Tom Appelman who left the team at the end of this season.

Simmons was skip of the 2015 Tim Horton Brier Championship team as which added John Morris to the lineup after winning the 2014 Tim Hortons Brier with Kevin Koe. Simmons will forever be remembered for making the clutch draw in the 10th end against Brad Jacobs to win his first title as skip.

After a breakthrough 2014/15 season which saw Team Bottcher win two events on the World Curling Tour and finishing 8th overall on the Order of Merit YTD they took a step backwards, failing to win, missing the end of season Players’ Championship and the Champions Cup.

Simmons will join Team Bottcher at Third, joining Brendan Bottcher at Skip, Bradley Thiessen at 2nd and Karrick Martin at lead and will continue playing out of the Saville Centre in Edmonton along with coach Rob Krepps.

For more on Simmons joining Team Bottcher, check out the article on Sportsnet:


Author: Perry Lefko

Funerals are supposed to be a time to mourn and reflect, particular if the person passed unexpectedly or because of causes that cut short their life. But during the course of Neil Harrison’s funeral and more so in the reception afterward, I found myself feeling uplifted – smiling, in fact – because of what I learned about the man affectionately known as Harry.

I had followed Neil’s curling career since I began writing about the sport for the Toronto Sun in 1986, beginning with the World Championships. I hadn’t been on the “beat” when Neil played lead for Ed Werenich’s team that won the Canadian and World’s in 1983 with Paul Savage and John Kawaja rounding out the Fab Four that was known as The Dream Team.

Ironically, the first time I saw Neil curl happened in the Battle of the Sexes match the night before the ’86 World’s, featuring The Wrench’s ’83 team against the newly-crowned women’s world champions, skipped by Marilyn Darte. If I needed a baptism into the zany and crazy world of curling – at least back then – this was it. Eddie’s team was preceded on to the ice by a well-endowed stripper, while Marilyn did a cartwheel. The men easily defeated the women, but the score was incidental. This was curling camp. There had been nothing like it since, and nothing has come close to matching it.

Neil always made me laugh – and many others – with his jokes. Neil’s high-pitched laugh, compared to Eddie’s cackle, was part of his charm and personality. Occasionally, he made me laugh at myself. It was all in good spirit, in particular when he videotaped with his “Harry Cam”. Neil also wrote curling columns, and I appreciated his prose.

But it was his funeral which allowed me to see Neil in a different way – a composite way – particularly as it applied to his career as a fireman, something he did for 30 years before retiring as a captain. Tried as I did during my years covering Eddie and Neil, who was the fifth for Eddie on many occasions, I didn’t picture them as being anything but curlers. I never envisioned them driving trucks at high speeds to tend to a fire or climbing a ladder to get to the second story of a house or a high-rise building. Neil looked far more athletic than Eddie. Then again, everybody did. I’ll never forget the fuss The Wrench and Paul had to go through one year to prove their fitness levels to the Canadian Curling Association for purposes of competing in the Trials for the Olympics before it was an actual full-medal sport. This was what I called the famous/infamous Fitness vs. Fatness debate. Long before curlers were made of muscle and sinew, they had big bellies and exercised by pounding a corn broom. The game was so different then – and in some ways better. It certainly was more fun and entertaining.

But listening to the chaplain at Neil’s funeral and watching how ceremonial it was, I gained a full appreciation for Neil Harrison the firefighter, not Neil Harrison the curler. He received full department honours for losing his life as a result of an illness incurred in the line of duty. Even though it had been a few years since his retirement, it was proven that the cancerous brain tumour that caused Neil’s death was directly related to his work. This allowed him to have his casket draped in a Canadian flag, which was rolled up and presented to his wife, Jane, and receive the highest medal of honour. His cap rested above the coffin. The service included bagpipers, which reminded me of the many curling events I have seen, and drums. During the rendition of Amazing Grace, I found myself close to tears. The service also included the ringing of the bell for the fallen firefighters and the firefighter’s prayer.

These are things you see dramatized in movies or in a real-life televised funeral of a firefighter or policeman. Now I had come to see Neil in his “real” job away from curling; of being a husband and father of two, one of whom, his daughter, Amber, I found out was married at Neil’s bedside knowing he did not have much time to live.

Neil loved the song American Pie by Don McLean and a portion of it was played during the service. I saw some people moving their heads to the sounds of the music and thought I heard some singing. And as I listened to the chorus, the words took on a different meaning. The song was written as a tribute to singer Buddy Holly, who died in a plane crash, but some of the words applied to Neil – indeed the Chevy had been driven to the levee and the levee was dry because this was the day the music of a world champion curler had died.

And much too soon at that.

Eddie and Paul were among the six honourary pallbearers, along with Neil’s brother, Ross, son Sean, son-in-law Andrew Chard and nephew Steven Yourt.

Many in attendance for the jam-packed service were firefighters, and towards the end of it they were instructed to leave and take their coats. I didn’t see what happened afterward because I was among the last to leave the church, but six carried the coffin and placed it on an antique pumper, while the rest followed behind in a procession towards the nearby reception hall where family, friends and colleagues joined together to remember Neil.

I saw Eddie, wearing his signature pin, holding a beer in one hand and wearing the spats that he and his teammates that won the 1990 Canadian and World Championships dressed in to celebrate their win. They looked like mob gangsters from the ‘20s, but they styled and profiled. And seeing Eddie and Paul and many others brought back a flood of great memories.

Paul told a story at the reception of his memories of Neil, who called him Saul. Some of the stories loosely touched the surface of some of the wild antics that made Eddie, Paul, John and Neil renowned in the curling world for their tremendous skill and penchant for partying. They were world-class players in both categories.

Following his speech, Paul encouraged others to walk up to the microphone and share their stories of Neil, but no one did. How could you possibly follow that?

A video of the 1983 World’s played and I finally had a chance to see Harry in action. It’s been 31 years, can you believe it?

I hadn’t seen Neil in years and had no idea of his illness until I read of his recent passing at the age of 65 – which is far too young.

I knew I had to be at the funeral. I knew I wanted to say good-bye.

I saw many from the curling community, some who had battled against Neil, others who were friends.

The chaplain spoke of the legacy we leave behind when we die. He spoke of how it didn’t matter if you were a world champion curler, but rather what you did to enrich the lives of others. While he said this was a time to mourn and to feel the hurt and loss, it was also a time to think about how Neil had touched us, and that even though he is physically gone he is still alive in our hearts and minds.

Neil Harrison made an impact on my writing career and my life – and more than anything he made me laugh.


The best of Canadian and International men’s curling will be on the ice later this month in Portage la Prairie, as they compete for cash and a trophy being renamed to honour one of Manitoba’s best curlers.

The Canad Inns Prairie Classic Championship – a stop on the World Curling Tour – runs from October 18th – 21st at the Portage Curling Club.

The championship hardware will now be named the Dave Elias Memorial Trophy, in honour of the late Manitoba men’s curling champion, who passed away earlier this year.

“At a young age, Dave became a legend in the curling world.”  said CEO Paul Robson. “Not only was he member of multiple provincial championship contenders and winning teams, he also had the distinct experience of competing at every position. “

“I know the curling world and the broader community misses this exceptional individual and Canad Inns is honoured to have this opportunity to recognize Dave’s legacy,” said Robson.

The Prairie Classic will feature 32 world-class curling teams, competing in the triple knockout event for the $ 60,000 purse.

The competition will provide fans with a preview to the December Canadian Olympic Trial, as well as the Olympics game in 2014.

This year’s line-up features last year’s winner Team Kevin Koe as well as two-time winner Team Mike McEwen. Other Canadian Olympic contenders competing include the Jeff Stoughton, Glenn Howard and Brad Gushue teams as well as top teams from Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

On the international side, Niklas Edin – the 2013 World Men’s Champion – will be there as well as teams from Russia, Norway, China and the United States.

Friday to Sunday draw times are 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. with the final games taking place on Monday place at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and the final at 6 p.m.

Shaw Cable will broadcast the 5:00 pm and 8:30 pm game on Sunday and the Final game on  Monday at 6:00 pm.

Tickets for the Canad Inns Prairie Classic are available by contacting Trent Ward, General Manager of Canad Inns Destination Centre Portage la Prairie at 204-857-9745.

Draw pass $ 8.
Daily pass $ 15.
Weekend pass $ 20.
Event pass $ 40.

Canad Inns is committed to the spirit of community partnership and is proud to host the Prairie Classic in Portage la Prairie as part of the World Curling Tour.

– 30 –

Media Contact:

Cindy Carswell
Vice President, Corporate Identity & Community Relations
Canad Inns


It is with much enthusiasm that the organizing committee and the board of directors of the Buckingham Curling Club announce today the 5th edition of the Challenge Château Cartier de Gatineau which will be held from October 23th to 27th 2013 at the centre sportif Robert Rochon (Masson-Angers sector of Gatineau) as well as the Buckingham Curling Club and the Thurso Curling Club.

This tournament is part of the 2013-2014 World Curling Tour » (WCT) and is considered as one of the most important competitions held in Eastern Canada.

For this 5th edition, there are 32 elite men’s teams, 16 women’s elite teams and 20 open class teams registered for a total of 68 teams coming from 8 Canadian provinces and from Sweden. All these teams will play for a record total purse of more than $65,000.

Highlighting some of the most notable men’s elite teams:

  • The 2013 Canadian Champions and currently ranked # 2 team on the WCT, the team skipped by Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste-Marie;
  • The 2012 defending Challenge Champions, the team skipped by Mark Dacey from Halifax;
  • The gold medalist from the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Brad Gushue;
  • The 2013 Quebec Champions skipped by Gatineau’s Jean-Michel Ménard.

Highlighting some of the most notable women’s elite teams :

  • The 2013 Canadian Champions and currently ranked # 1 team on the WCT, the team skipped by de Rachel Homan of Ottawa;
  • The 2012 defending Challenge Champions, the team skipped by Julie Reddick of Toronto;
  • The team skipped by Cissi Ostlund from Sweden, a member of the 2011 world championship team;
  • The 2013 Quebec Champions skipped by Allison Ross from Montreal.

The director of the Challenge, Mr. Dany Beaulieu would like to highlight that there are 8 teams (6 men’s and 2 women’s) registered in the Gatineau tournament that are currently part of the upcoming Olympic selection process for Canada.

The elite teams will take the ice at the Centre sportif Robert-Rochon starting at 8:30 Thursday October 24th . The tournament goes until Sunday October 27th when the Finals will be played at 15:30.

The Open Class games will get under way Wednesday October 23rd at 18:45 at the Centre sportif Robert-Rochon. Most of the remaining games will be held at the Buckingham and Thurso Curling Clubs except for the semi finals and finals which will be held at the Centre sportif Robert-Rochon on October 27th starting at noon .

The “On the Rocks” lounge, located on the 2nd floor of the centre sportif Robert Rochon, will allow spectators to comfortably view the many games. The daily admission fee will be 5$ for spectators.

Buckingham Curling Club’s president, Mr. Alain Deschâtelets, reminded the importance of the many partners, sponsors, collaborators and volunteers that will make this major event successful and which will have significant economic benefits for Gatineau and all of the National Capital region. Mr. Deschâtelets highlighted the contribution of the City of Gatineau, Curling Québec, TC Média and the title sponsor of the event, Le Château Cartier now referred to as Double Tree by Hilton Gatineau-Ottawa.

Representing our title sponsor, Double Tree by Hilton Gatineau-Ottawa, Mr. Pierre Charette is proud to once again be partnering with the most prestigious curling tournament in our region. Mr. Charette also mentioned the great work done by Mr. Dany Beaulieu and his organizing committee to ensure the success of this event and outlined the efforts of the Buckingham Curling Club’s board of directors for showcasing the sport of curling in our region.

Request for information:                

Dany Beaulieu
Director, 2013 Challenge Château Cartier de Gatineau
(819) 213-7027

Alain Deschatelets
Buckingham Curling Club President
(819) 986-2284

Web Site :


We’ll be streaming on Youtube all weekend from the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard, with games archived soon after they complete.  The event wraps up on Sunday with the playoffs at 9am (Quarterfinals), 12:30pm (Semfinals) and Finals at 4pm ET.

Be sure to check out our schedule link below for the latest update on game times:



Baden field included Olympic teams heading to Sochi from Sweden, Norway, Great Britain, Switzerland, Denmark, Russia.

The 2013 Baden Masters had a familiar champion once again as Brad Gushue won his 3rd career event title in Switzerland, going undefeated in the opening event of the Men’s Tour season. The Canadians would go on to edge out Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud 4-3 in extra ends, after controlling much of the final game. Gushue opened scoring by stealing a single in the first end, then held Ulsrud off the board until the 4th end when they tied the game at 1. Gushue scored a single in the 6th end and then stole another point in the 7th end for a 2 point lead.

Ulsrud was able to score 2 points in the 8th end to tie the game at 3 after regulation, but Gushue held the all-important last shot hammer in the extra end, which he used for make an open hit for the win.

The Champions Tour Event, which is affiliated with the World Curling Tour, boasted a lot of international flavour including Olympic teams from Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Great Britain, Switzerland, as well as lineups from Czech Republic, France, Germany and Latvia, along with the lone-Canadian team, the Gushue foursome which included Brett Gallant, Adam Casey and Geoff Walker of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Undefeated after the round robin, Gushue posted a 7-2 win over Switzerland’s Alex Attinger in the Quarterfinals, and then upended reigning back-to-back Baden Masters champion and Swiss Olympic representative Sven Michel 8-1 in the semifinals to advance to the championship game against Ulsrud.

“(The Semifinal) was a good game, a bit closer than the score indicated. Got a good break to score our first three when he was light on a tap. From there we were able to keep the peddle down and get a couple steals,” said Brett Gallant after the game.

“They (Michel) typically are tough to beat at this event so winning that game was huge.”

“(Michel) have the advantage of getting ice in mid-June which is definitely helping them improve to one of the top teams right now.”

Ulsrud’s ever-so-bright Norwegian team, also known as “The Pants,” boasted an undefeated record going into the final, beating reigning World Mens Champion and Swedish Olympic representatives Niklas Edin 8-3 in the quarterfinals, and moving past Pascal Hess of Switzerland with a 6-4 win the semifinals.


Champions Tour Curling got off to a great start this weekend in Baden, Switzerland. The Baden Masters embarked upon its 10th championship with as strong of a field as ever. International Curling talent litters this years Champions Tour Event to get an early foothold on the season.

Just a few of the many notable teams taking part in the 16 team round robin event are Sweden’s 2014 Sochi Olympic representative & reigning men’s world champion Niklas Edin, Norwegian 2010 Olympic Silver Medalists “the pants” Thomas Ulsrud, Great Britain 2014 Sochi Olympic representative David Murdoch, Canada’s 2006 Olympic Gold Medalist & 2-time Baden Masters champion Brad Gushue.

Home country favorite Sven Michel from Adelboden, Switzerland is looking to make it three Baden Masters titles in a row after a sharp 4-0 start in round robin play. Michel defeated Rasmus Stjerne of Denmark in the quarter finals, advancing with a 4-2 win and will face Gushue in the semi finals. The other semi final match Sunday morning, 9am CET (3am ET) features Ulsrud and Pascal Hess of Switzelrand. Viewers can catch live coverage from the Baden Masters online at:–.html


TORONTO (June 24, 2013) – Sportsnet today announced that Suncor Community Leisure Centre in Fort McMurray will play host to next March’s The National, completing the list of event locations for next year’s Grand Slam of Curling series.

This marks the first time the Grand Slam of Curling will take place in Fort McMurray, who in partnership with MacDonald Island Park and Fort McMurray Oilsands Curling Club, will welcome 18 of the top men’s teams from around the world competing for a $100,000 purse.

“Curling is an essential part of the Canadian DNA and we’re thrilled to bring this world-class event to the great city of Fort McMurray and the community of Wood Buffalo,” said Greg Albrecht, Executive Director, Rogers Media. “Sportsnet has a long history of producing curling in Canada, and combined with the first-rate facilities at McDonald Island Park, The National will not disappoint.”

“I want to thank MacDonald Island Park, the Fort McMurray Oilsands Curling Club and the organizing committee for their commitment to bringing world class sporting events to Wood Buffalo,” said Mayor Melissa Blake. “The National will offer great entertainment for our citizens while showcasing our community as a great place to live, work, stay and play.”

With all new venues and cities, the 2013-14 Grand Slam of Curling series is now confirmed.  Details are as follows:

Masters – October 30 – November 3, 2013
Location: Abbotsford, BC – Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre
Draw:  Men’s and Women’s draws
Purse: $200,000 ($100,000 spilt)

Canadian Open – November 13 – 17, 2013
Location: Medicine Hat, AB – Medicine Hat Arena
Draw:  Men’s draw only
Purse: $100,000

The National – March 12 – 16, 2014
Location: Fort McMurray, AB – Suncor Community Leisure Centre
Draw:  Men’s draw only
Purse: $100,000

Players’ Championship – April 15 – 20, 2014
Location: Summerside, PEI – Credit Union Place
Draw:  Men’s and Women’s draws
Purse: $200,000 ($100,000 spilt)

Additional details regarding the full 2013-14 Grand Slam of Curling schedule, ticket information and broadcast details will be announced at a later date.

Owned and operated by Sportsnet, the Grand Slam of Curling is an elite series of men’s and women’s curling events which are part of the World Curling Tour and feature the best teams from across Canada and around the world.

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