Quebec rink happy with lessons learned

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:37 PM ET

When Francois Gagne has the boys over for dinner sometime later this spring, there won't be any lull in conversation.

They'll have a lot to talk about... everything from their performance in the Brier to how they'll approach the defence of their provincial title to who is going to throw what rocks for the rink next year.

Quebec with skip Gagne, third Robert Desjardins, second Christian Bouchard and lead Philippe Menard, finished their first trip to the Brier as a team Thursday night.

They finished against two playoff teams, losing to Jeff Stoughton of Manitoba 8-4 in the afternoon and Newfoundland's Brad Gushue 9-7 at night.

Quebec won their first two games of the Brier but finished 3-8.

The big question going into the Brier for the team was whether they would be able to handle the big stage and the pressure associated with it.

While there were times when the Gagne foursome played well, they learned a valuable lesson. With the calibre of teams in this event any mistake you make will be punished.

"That's the big thing here," Gagne said. "You can make a good shot but if you leave anything, the good teams they will find it. You can't make mistakes."

Gagne's rink was Desjardins' rink until earlier this year. Both have different styles and the Quebec was probably the team that held more discussions than anyone.

When the two changed places earlier this year, the team began to play better. Gagne did not want to skip this year. In fact, he was thinking of not playing but came back to play third to Desjardins.

"It has taken some time to make the adjustments," Desjardins said.

"For sure, I am surprised that we are at the Brier," Gagne said. "I didn't think I would be here."

In the Brier, most of the top teams have been in place for a number of years.

"But it is important to come here and play," Desjardins said. "I know most of the teams but to play against them here is different."

Gagne was hoping to be in contention for the Brier playoffs but a six-game losing streak ended that hope.

It became a learning experience for the Gagne rink and by the end of the Brier they were playing fairly well again.

Gagne loved his experience at the Brier.

"Playing games like we did (against Northwest Territories, Manitoba and Newfoundland), to see the crowd cheering for everyone, having fun with the crowd . . ." Gagne said. "It's for moments like that we play curling, to live for a moment like that."

He has learned from the experience and as a result will be more comfortable if, and when, he makes it back to the Brier.

"I will for sure be more comfortable," Gagne said. "Now I see the little things the best teams are doing to win. Just learning is really great for me. I will remember everything that happened this week."

"There are two situations here," Gagne said. "You have to beat the best teams in the world. You have to deal with the atmosphere, the environment, the things that make the Brier so big. That's the experience we got from that. It's dealing with the big games at the same time as everything around you.

"For me it's a lot of things I can bring back home and talk to with my team."

When will that talk come?

"I will organize a big dinner at home invite our team," Gagne said. "We will talk about what we will do and see what happens. We have a title to defend. We are going to be at the provincial next year for sure.

"We had a great season. I don't want to change too much. We will have to talk and see what roll Robert would like. He's been a skip for a long time.

"One thing, we will have a nice dinner."


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