Spuds and the kid get a lesson from Martin

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:58 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- It was a game to tell your grandchildren about one day.

"It was 2011, son, in London, Ontario and your grandpa was 21 at the time and I played against the legendary Kevin Martin in the Brier. It was the day he won his 101st game and extended his Brier winning streak to 30 consecutive games and ..." Alex MacFadyen is pretty sure that's the way it will be.

"In one way you don't want to be the victim in a game like this, but at the same time you know you'll always cherish the time you had out there," he said Monday.

Fresh out of junior curling, MacFadyen had the thrill of getting clobbered 9-2 by Martin, who is attempting to become the first five-time Brier champion in history.

MacFadyen's skip, Eddie "Spuds" MacKenzie, spent almost two decades trying to get back to the Brier to play that game.

However, the 38-year-old accountant, who played third for Prince Edward Island in 1994, is also starting to understand the expression "be careful what you wish for." There's only one thing they demand out of their Brier rep from the birthplace of Canadian confederation: Don't lose 'em all!

Not since G.J. Hanes in 1948 has a team from the home of Anne of Green Gables gassed all its games.

And it was only 0-9 in those days.

Four teams from Newfoundland, four more from the Territories and one from Quebec have gone winless at the grand national rock concert since 1948. But Spuds MacKenzie is set up to go all the way.

"We're not only curling on the wrong side of the inch, we're on the wrong side of the foot," he said.

After an opening weekend in which he suffered a 12-1 loss to Brad Gushue, a 9-4 loss to Jeff Stoughton and a 10-3 loss to Brier rookie Francois Gagne and even lost a game to the Territories, they knew they were going to lose the next one. But no matter what happens, Mackenzie and his team of Mike Gaudet, Mike Dillon and MacFadyen will always have Monday.

And MacKenzie will always have the fifth end.

That's when he made a run-back double to score one to make the crowd explode with wild cheering and applause.

"You sure look forward to making a shot like that here," he said.

MacKenzie said it was Martin who fuelled his dreams and inspired him to get back to the Brier as a skip.

"When we heard of his 80- to 100-rock a day practices, that gave me the inspiration to see if we could do it, too. I liked the work ethic."

Lead MacFadyen's inspiration was much more recent.

"I went to Kevin's junior summer bonspiel in Edmonton and became pretty good friends with his son, Karrick, before. I was invited over to his house before the event and Kevin answered the door. I'd never met him in person before. He has been my idol.

"It seems every day I'm playing against one of my idols. I'm telling a guy on Saturday 'You were my idol' and I'm telling a guy on Sunday 'You were my idol' ...

"I've always dreamed of getting to the Brier but I never expected to do it my first year out of junior," said the lead who is shooting 87% and sitting in third place in the stats at that position while his teammates are 11th, 12th and 12th. That was the thing about Monday.

The Brier is a celebration of Canadiana and there's something about a game involving the Olympic gold medal winner versus four guys from the little red-soiled island which is home to the grand total of seven curling clubs.

But soon there could be a year where Prince Edward Island is not in a Brier. Coming soon -- likely in 2012 -- will be a new system where the 12th-place team gets relegated to a pre-Brier tournament as the Brier welcomes a Team Canada and separate teams from all three Territories and throws them all into a mini-tourney on the two days before the Brier to determine the 12th team to proceed into the event itself.

It's a move welcomed by the entire curling world. But it will take something away one day for the province which is the seat of Canadian confederation.

"It changes what this was created to be all about," MacFadyen said.

On the other hand Martin could have been playing Team Canada skipped by Kevin Koe Monday. Kinda kills the argument.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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