Quebec’s win the perfect gift for Bouchard

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:48 PM ET

LONDON — Quebec second Christian Bouchard got the perfect 37th birthday gift Saturday night.

A win in his first Brier game.

The Quebec team scored fourth in the sixth end to beat Nova Scotia’s Shawn Adams 10-4 in their national men’s curling championships debut at the John Labatt Centre.

“Every year, I write down a list of what I want for my birthday,” the hazardous waste management manager at McGill University in Montreal said, “and for 15 years, I’ve been putting a trip to the Brier and this year, I finally got it.

“It was unbelievable.”

Earlier in the day, Bouchard had a chance to earn a two-year lease on a new Ford Edge, but he was knocked out of the Hot Shots competition. Ontario third Richard Hart won the ride.

“The guys kept saying, ‘You’ve got to get the car, you’ve got to get the car,’” Bouchard said. “I tried. That was two things I wanted, but I ended up with one.”

“We tried to get the car for him,” skip Francois Gagne added. “We did our best. Instead, we got him a win in our first game. That’s why we got him four) in the sixth end).

“Only for his birthday.”

In the morning, Quebec lead Philippe Menard showed up at the lanky Bouchard’s hotel room door bearing sweets.

“Phil’s girlfriend is always making cupcakes for us,” he said, “and I opened the door and said, ‘What are you doing here’ and he had a special birthday cupcake with a candle in it so that was pretty nice.”

After the victory, Bouchard got a quick birthday kiss from his girlfriend, Eve Belisle, who skipped the Quebec entry at the 2006 Scotties contested on John Labatt Centre ice.

She made the playoffs, won a tiebreaker game and lost the 3-4 game to Jennifer Jones.

“I was here for the week that year,” Bouchard said, “so it felt familiar. I knew where everything was. I knew where the Patch was. It all came back to me and I think feeling comfortable helped.”

That was one of the little things Gagne said helped calm the team’s nerves. Another was Menard’s two previous stints as an alternate at the 2008 and ’09 Briers.

“Those little things come together and helped,” Gagne said. “It feels so good to start with a win. We feel like we have the tools to take on these guys and that we’ll be better (Sunday).”

It’s easy to see Gagne becoming the kind of crowd favourite provincial rival Guy Hemmings has been at his Brier appearances.

“I don’t know about that,” he said, “but we have a very emotional team. That’s the way you play. You should’ve seen us at provincials. We went nuts with the broom all the time. We were going crazy.

“I don’t think we’re going to change hre. The way I look at it, curling is a game and it’s supposed to be fun, and the day I stop having fun, that’s the day I quit playing.”

He’ll have to come down from the initial high in a hurry. He was due to face Prince Edward Island, a must-win game, Sunday morning.

“I know it’s hard to control my emotions sometimes,” he said with a laugh, “but that’s what you have to do here.”

They have to find a way to get stronger as the week goes on. It won’t get easier — they finish the round robin Thursday with tough tests against Manitoba and Newfoundland.

By then, Gagne and crew will need all the energy they can muster.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ryanpyette


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