Brad Haight knew he had to switch things up. What he didn't know -- or expect -- was that his team would get on such a roll. And stay there.
Haight and his squad -- Trevor Loreth, Ryan Duncan and Ryan Lowdon -- were a perfect 9-0, one of three unbeaten teams at the MCA Bonspiel entering last night's late draw.
The skip out of St. Vital decided to relinquish his game-calling duties to his third, Loreth, midway through the season. The decision paid dividends almost immediately when the squad finished runner-up during the East St. Paul cashspiel, pocketing $2,000. Then Haight, who was born in Thompson but moved to Winnipeg to attend the University of Manitoba, conquered the city zones. He upset James Kirkness in an A-B final earlier this month.
"We had one shaky game in the zones," recalled Haight, 27, after stepping off the ice last night at the Heather after downing Reg Malanchuk 8-4.
"We got off the ice and we sat down and we said 'Look, we're going to have to win four hard games if we're going to win this zone and we better start doing it by taking one shot at a time.' For us to win the zone was pretty emotional."
And so, the foursome will travel to Dauphin next month with three making their provincial debuts. Lowdon has played at the Safeway before, supporting Craig Strand.
"When we won our zone, I was very happy for Ryan Duncan and Trevor Loreth because they've been trying every single year since juniors and hadn't been quite able to make it," said Haight.
But before Dauphin, there's a little matter of the MCA -- and the chance to be grand aggregate champion.
"It's always nice to win your first eight games, obviously, but you don't expect it," said Haight. "Things have to be going well for that to happen. We were quite happy to be 8-0 after (Sunday) night and now it's a bonus if we can win one or two more games on each (major event) side, anything can happen. We might be in the running for grand aggregate."
Haight, who remembers sitting on a curling rock as a kid while his dad pushed him down the rink, took a couple years off after playing juniors but is now one of the hottest skips in the province. The question is, are they ready to claw their way up to the next level of competitive curling?
"I still think there's a gap between the very elite teams like the Burtnyks and the Stoughtons but there's another level where I think we're right in there," said Haight. "We've never been completely outclassed or blown out of the water all year.
"We're obviously not at Stoughton or Burtnyk's level, but I feel we can play with pretty well anybody.
"For the last week since zones we've played super. We've missed the right way all the time and we've called a really smart game. We haven't given up any big ends at all and that's what you have to do."
They'll try to continue that play at 12:45 p.m. against Bob Sigurdson at Wildewood.