Island rink wins opener at Brier qualifier

Published on March 2, 2017

Prince Edward Island Matthew Nabuurs(left) and Sean Ledgerwood sweep during 2017 Brier pre-qualifying play at Mile One Centre Thursday night. Keith Gosse/The Telegram

©Keith Gosse/The Telegram

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. – Prince Edward Island kicked off its bid to qualify for the main Tim Hortons Brier field with an 11-4 win Thursday over Nunavut’s Jim Nix in St. John’s, N.L.

“It was a good first step,” said third Sean Ledgerwood.

P.E.I. started well with a deuce in the first end, set up by a nice come around by Ledgerwood after skip Eddie MacKenzie went right after the opposition by ignoring the Nunavut stone and throwing a corner guard on their first rock.

MacKenzie kept the pressure on in the second and stole one when Nix rolled too far on his last shot. Nix missed a tough draw for two in the third to fall behind 3-1.

P.E.I., which includes second Matthew Nabuurs and lead Robbie Doherty, played an almost perfect fourth, capped by a MacKenzie draw for three to go up 6-1. A steal of four in the fifth gave the Islanders an insurmountable 10-1 lead.

Nunavut had a single in the sixth and stole a deuce in the seventh, but the teams shook hands after MacKenzie scored one in the eighth.

Early in the game, P.E.I. watched the ice carefully as typically the change from local curling club conditions to arena ice is a big adjustment. 

“Ice conditions are be a factor, as we will be the first teams playing on it, and typically this is the time where the ice makers make their adjustments getting ready for the main draw,” Ledgerwood said. “We just accepted what we had and make the most of it.”

Prince Edward Island skip Eddie MacKenzie delivers a rock as teammates Matthew Nabuurs(left) and Robbie Doherty sweep during 2017 Brier pre-qualifying play at Mile One Centre Thursday night. Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Nabuurs said the ice was curling hard but sliding fast. Some draw shots were curling six or more feet.

Nix is a well-known Nova Scotia curler and curling promoter, who was invited to skip Nunavut.

“When I was on vacation, I got a call from a friend, asking me if I was interested in skipping a team in playdowns in Iqaluit,” Nix explained. “The dates were OK with me, so I was open to it.”

In Thursday’s other pre-qualifying match, Nova Scotia was sharp and scored four in the first three ends to defeat a talented but rusty team from the Yukon 8-2.

P.E.I. plays Yukon today at 7:30 a.m. Atlantic. The Island squad knows they face a good team and skip Craig Kochan’s experience gained at four Canadian championships will present a challenge. 

P.E.I. plays Nova Scotia at 3 pm. The top two teams of the four will meet Saturday at 2:30 p.m. for a spot in the main Brier field.