Spoilers could rule at Brier

JOE PAVIA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:11 AM ET

OTTAWA - No Martin. No Stoughton. Almost no Howard.

What a weekend of upsets in provincial playdowns for Saskatoon’s Tim Hortons Brier. The field boasts Glenn Howard, Jim Cotter, Brad Gushue, Brad Jacobs and Kevin Koe.

After that, the field gives a number of rookies and lesser lights a chance to shine. Rookies include Jamie Murphy and Scott Manners.

Returning players are Mike Gaudet, Robert Desjardins, Terry Odishaw, Rob Fowler and Jamie Koe.

Kevin Martin lost out on Alberta’s C-side to young Brock Virtue, while Jeff Stoughton lost his bid to defend his Brier title in the championship round in Manitoba.

Jacobs lost his Page 1-2 game, then scored a sixth-end eight-ender in the semi-final. Howard won his final by the smallest of margins — inches really.

Only Gushue and Koe seemed to breeze through their playoff rounds.

Does this mean the Territories might win its first national men’s championship? Not a chance, but ...

There could be a number of spoilers. A rink like Quebec’s could put a string of wins together. Key games could be won by the weaker teams.

In 2011, Jamie Koe almost defeated Martin — falling 7-6.

Plenty of participants will be rookies, but seasoned squads have untested Brier athletes.

Two of Gushue’s players are new to this tournament.

Even someone like Ontario’s veteran third Wayne Middaugh may take a while to get used to his national return.

Take Cotter’s team for instance. Cotter won plenty of money this season, but doesn’t have a stellar Brier record — 4-7 in 2011. However, they just might seize the moment and score some big ends in Saskatoon.

Manitoba’s Fowler is not a Brier newbie, has won almost $30,000 this season and is used to playing top teams. He could be a factor in determining final four.

This may not be the cake walk some pundits are already predicting.

SCOTTIES

The Scotties Tournament of Hearts begins Saturday. Defending champion and Team Canada skip Amber Holland will have her hands full defending her title. Jennifer Jones wants to regain her title in the worst way. Expect strong showings from Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, B.C. and Alberta. The spoilers later in the week just may be Ontario and the Territories.

WINNER'S CIRCLE

In Branch Governor Generals and Lady Tweedsmuir play, rinks from Navan defeated their Quebec counterparts in the double-rink competition. The men’s winners were Kris Ruiter, Ken Reilly, Gary Findlay and Todd Reilly. The second squad was Kelly Oka, Mat Camm, Keith David and Greg Camm. The Tweedsmuir victors were from North Grenville. Dawn Kish, Marjorie Graham, Lynn Surette and Debra Gerylo-Smith made up one foursome, while the other was Virginia Cunningham, Penny MacDonald, Jean Hardjes and Laurie Fraser. At the recent Bantam provincials, Kimberly Gannon’s Ottawa rink won a tie-breaker to qualify for the Ontario Winter Games in March. The other members are Lindsay Bell, Abby Bolton and Morgan Steele. Their coach is Bruce Gannon.

END NOTES

While Jamie Sinclair’s team failed to make the playoffs at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors in Napanee, her lead, Chantal Allan, was named second-team all-star. Sinclair finished just shy of the playoffs with a 7-5 record ... The folks in Stratford hosted an impressive Dominion Tankard. Former Ottawa curler Dave St. Louis was the co-chair while next year’s chair for the Barrie Dominion Tankard is another former Ottawa curler Ken Leach.


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