The Northern Ontario legend they call “The Iceman” can still send chills down opponents’ spines at the thought of having to face him.
Two-time Brier and world men’s curling champion Al Hackner of Thunder Bay was sitting at 2-1 after his first three draws at the Canadian senior curling championships Sunday at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, just one game back of leaders Wes Craig of B.C. and Brad Heidt of Saskatchewan.
Hackner lost 6-5 to Gareth Parry in the Battle of Ontario Sunday morning, but bounced back with a 5-4 win over Manitoba’s Rob Ramage in the afternoon.
Still trim and fit at 56, the man who made one of the greatest shots in history to send the 1985 Brier final to an extra end before winning the title is still as enthusiastic about the game as ever a quarter-century later.
The difference is, Hackner said, things are a little more laid-back nowadays.
“We’re still competitive,” he said.
“We want to go out there and make every shot. We just don’t have to work as hard for it. The seniors is a little more relaxed. The big effort isn’t there to beat your opposition and hate them.”
Hackner has been to nine Briers, the last in 2001 — and he figures he might not be done with the event just yet.
“In order to win the Canadian seniors, you’ve got to be throwing the rock pretty good,” said Hackner, whose son Andrew was also competing in Ottawa last weekend — as a guard for Lakehead University’s men’s basketball team at the CIS championship.
“You know at that point you realize that if you’re that close, why don’t I try some men’s curling, you never know. Next year I’m fully retired, and I can do a little more practice and go at it.”
On the women’s side Sunday, New Brunswick’s Heidi Hanlon (3-0) seized sole possession of top spot with an 8-2 thumping of Ontario’s Dale Curtis (0-3). Saskatchewan’s Susan Lang was also unbeaten at 2-0 before Sunday night’s late draw.
SENIOR NOTES: Russell’s Rick Bachand, who throws third for the 2009 Canadian senior men’s title-holder, is getting lots of high-calibre practice before he heads to the senior worlds in April. Because of an injury suffered at the Quebec senior provincials, Bachand is throwing second and holding the broom for Quebec until further notice. Thurso’s Maurice Cayouette is the man with the bad knee… The 1990 Scotties Tournament of Hearts winner Alison Goring was one of the numerous out-of-town spectators in the house.