Prince Edward Island will be up against some of the top men curlers in the world starting today in Edmonton.
The Eddie MacKenzie rink from the Charlottetown Curling Complex will carry the province’s hope at the Tim Hortons Brier, which runs until March 10. The heavyweights, including Glenn Howard (Ontario), Kevin Martin (Alberta), Jeff Stoughton (Manitoba) and Brad Gushue (Newfoundland and Labrador), are all in the 12-team national championship.
“It’s an extremely talented field, but we know that we have four talented curlers as well,” second Alex MacFadyen said before departing for Edmonton. “We’re hoping that if we put our A game together that we’re going to be right up there.”
Canadian men’s curling championship began in 1927 and Prince Edward Island has never won it.
“The goal is obviously to make the playoffs,” MacFadyen said.
This will be MacKenzie third trip to nationals. His best finish is 2-9.
“It’d be nice to have a winning record,” MacKenzie told The Guardian.
That task starts today against Saskatchewan at 4:30 p.m. AT and against Newfoundland and Labrador at 9:30 p.m. AT.
“It would be nice to get off to a good start,” MacKenzie said. “I think it helps with morale and keeps everyone positive if you start playing well off the start.”
MacFadyen and Anson Carmody are in their early 20s while MacKenzie and lead Sean Ledgerwood are the team’s veterans.
MacFadyen was with MacKenzie in 2011 in London, Ont. when they finished 1-10.
“I think that experience is going to help me a lot this year,” he said. “I’m not going to be as overwhelmed.”
MacFadyen and Carmody were part of a junior team with Adam Casey, Brett Gallant and coach Peter Gallant, who are now part of Gushue’s rink. They will meet each other tonight.
MacKenzie earned the right to represent the province with an extra-end 7-6 victory over Roddie MacDonald at the Tankard in February.
“Hopefully we peak this coming week,” MacKenzie said.
The Alberta capital holds the record for attendance for a Brier with 281,985 in 2005.
“The Brier in Edmonton will be pretty amazing I’m sure. There will be large knowledgeable crowds.”