Islander no stranger to nationals

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:17 AM ET

The way Rod MacDonald sees it, everybody won.

Reigning P.E.I. provincial champion Peter Gallant opted to sit out a season of competitive curling to coach his son Brent, a move that earned both a Canadian crown and an invite to the world junior championships.

MacDonald, meanwhile, joined forces with a pair of sharpshooters -- Kevin Champion and Mark O'Rourke -- from Gallant's 2008 rink.

The revamped bunch is Brier-bound.

"It kind of worked out for everybody," MacDonald said. "I'm sure Peter misses it, but winning the Canadians with his son was probably the highlight of his career, even though he has nine Purple Hearts. That only happens very rarely."

For MacDonald, Brier berths have been coming in bunches. The 51-year-old skip is making his sixth straight trip to Canada's premier 'spiel, although he's primarily been a spectator at the last two.

MacDonald has won P.E.I.'s provincial men's tankard as a skip three times in the past five years, including both 2004 and 2005. He served as fifth for Gallant's rink two years ago and coached the Island entry last March in Winnipeg.

The Summerside resident figured he'd focus on the senior ranks this season but changed his mind when he was recruited to join a few old friends, first as a lead who also called the shots and then as skip after the struggling rink shuffled its lineup in mid-December.

Champion, whose resume now includes six Brier appearances, will throw third rocks. Andrew Robinson, a former provincial champion skip, is playing second and O'Rourke rounds out the front-end.

MacDonald played lead with his brother Peter in 1996, the last time the Islanders advanced to the Brier playoff round. He knows equalling that feat won't be easy.

"It's going to take a whole lot of good shootin', that's for sure," he said. "You're playing the best in the world, so we're going to have to play awfully well and get some breaks."

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

CHARLOTTETOWN CURLING CLUB, CHARLOTTETOWN

Skip: Rod MacDonald, 51, 6th Brier (car dealer)

Third: Kevin Champion, 45, 6th Brier (golf professional)

Second: Andrew Robinson, 39, 2nd Brier (P.E.I. Agromart prez)

Lead: Mark O'Rourke, 46, 10th Brier (co-owner, dry goods store)

Fifth: Peter MacDonald; Coach: Pat Aylward

WCT Earnings: N/A

Highlight: MacDonald was runner-up in 1995 Canadian Mixed


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