SARNIA -- Brian Chick can't explain his skip Damien Villard's dreadlocked hair-do.
"All I know is I've known him for four years and it's always been long like that," the Renfrew Curling Club rink's third said.
Chick can, however, break down why the hastily put-together Villard crew is wearing flashy lime green jackets, which makes their leader look like a scarecrow at a neon dance party this week at the TSC Tankard Ontario men's curling championship at the Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre.
"Every curling team we've ever seen wears black or grey jackets so we wanted to go with something different and shake it up a bit," said Chick, 25. "We're the nobodies here. No one knows who we are. But we always like to have fun and that's what we're going to do this week."
Villard's on-ice appearance had people buzzing early this week. But the Cambridge resident, an ice technician in Galt during the winter and self-proclaimed tree planter during the summer, proved he wasn't just a gimmick when his Renfrew crew -- assembled before the Eastern playdowns for a run at provincials -- won early here to put themselves in the mix for a potential playoff run and a shot at the coveted Ontario Brier berth.
"It was a relief to win a couple of games here early," Chick said. "You're always a little worried when you put a team together and only have eight games under your belt that you're going to come here and get skunked. But we're doing all right and it's really taken the pressure off.
"We know we can play here."
Villard did a masterful job in culling together some old Renfrew pals to form a team for the playdowns and provincials. He, Chick, Scott Drinkwalter, Derek Visutski and Matt St. Louis formed an association they all feel has the right stuff to stick, although they did suffer a 10-5 setback at the hands of Wayne Middaugh yesterday afternoon.
Trailing 4-1, they scored three in a fourth end that had Middaugh slamming his broom in frustration. But the veteran playing out of Toronto St. George's roared back with two in the fifth and four in the sixth to put Villard away.
But the setback wouldn't be enough to frustrate the lime-adorned set for long.
"Everybody in curling knows everybody and we all knew each other through this loose web," Chick said.
"The best thing is these are great guys and we have a lot of fun. It's the biggest thing and it's why we could stay together."
Chick, who spent much of his youth growing up in the United States (he listed Albany, N.Y., as one of his family's key stops), attended the Ryerson School of Journalism and now works as an application specialist for CBC Television. He has worked on shows like The National, The Hour and for NewsWorld.
"I'm a behind-the-scences guy -- if the TelePrompter goes down, it's me who come running," he said. "Peter Mansbridge's office is right around the corner from mine."
Besides his curling pastime, Chick plans on pursuing a long-distance education with a Master's degree through the University of Alberta.
"There's a lot of down time in the news business so I figure I might as well spend that time bettering myself," he said with a grin.