SASKATOON - Son, don’t you do what your old daddy once done.
Twenty-five years ago Brian Fowler went to the Brier representing Manitoba, lost his first two games and never really recovered.
So when his son lost his first one on opening day this year, there was the unspoken challenge there.
With his dad watching at the back of the house as the Manitoba coach, Rob Fowler saved his opening day with a 6-3 win over New Brunswick.
“Obviously we didn’t want to do that,” said the young skip. “But we didn’t talk about it. You try not remember your losses.”
Does it change anything when he finds out he lost it to “Curling Bob”?
That’s the name 41-year-old Robert Desjardins answers to in Chicoutimi, Quebec.
Plain and simple, “Curing Bob” out-curled Brandon’s, er, Curling Rob in the battle of two former thirds returning to the Brier for their first appearances skipping their own teams.
Fowler struggled, especially early, in recording a 75% opening draw average.
“To be honest, I was a little nervous in the first five ends,” said the GM of Fowler Hyundai, here skipping a team with two rookies including former Scotland junior champion Allan Lyburn and lead Derek Samagalski who were 85% and 89% respectively.
“They did better. They threw good enough games for us to win,” said the skip who gave up a pair of steals and ended up in an extra end without hammer in the 7-6 loss.
As much as it was an opening game bummer for the team which knocked off defending Brier champion Jeff Stoughton and tour money leader Mike McEwen to get here, it was a terrific adventure for “Curling Bob” who was looking at two, one of them biting the four foot when he drew his last rock to the button to win it.
“It’s great, you know. Eleventh end. Our second game like that in a row.
“In the last game of the provincials, I had the same thing — draw to the button in the extra end.
“It’s fantastic. I knew I could do it, already, but it’s fun.”
In a Brier where beyond the two favoured teams — Alberta’s Kevin Koe and Ontario’s Glenn Howard — it’s so wide open that TSN decided to feature 10 different teams in the first five draws of opening weekend, “Curling Bob” was more than a little conscious he was playing on television.
“I mean, it was the first-ever complete game for me on TV. I think this shows what Quebec is made of.”
Quebec is one of five teams which goes into play Sunday with a 1-0 record.
Nova Scotia in first
But they’re all behind Nova Scotia’s Jamie Murphy and his all-rookie team which scored a 9-5 win over the Territories Jamie Koe and followed it up with a 10-4 win over Mike Gaudet of PEI.
The two overwhelming favourites, Glenn Howard of Ontario and Kevin Koe of Alberta managed to get through the day unscathed, along with Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario and Scott Manners of Saskatchewan.
Other than defending champion Manitoba losing for openers, the other significant setback was suffered by 2006 Olympic gold-medal winner Brad Gushue of Newfoundland.
Curling an abysmal 74%, Gushue lost to Jacobs, who turned in a 75% stat, and lost 7-6 in extra ends.
“We were horrible in the extra end,” said Gushue. “We missed our first six shots in the extra end. We had a horrible line call in the ninth. We just made a lot of mistakes.”
“It was a game we really needed,” said Jacobs. “I think we were all a little nervous and in the middle part of the game we were really sloppy. But in the end we got the W.
Alberta’s Kevin Koe felt pretty much the same as Jacobs after posting a 9-5 win over Jim Cotter of B.C.
“It wasn’t pretty,” he said. “For sure it wasn’t our best game. We were off a little early.”
Koe led the game 4-0 after two ends.
“We got off to a good start but then we followed up and gave three right back.”
He said maybe it had to be expected.
“It was our first game since Camrose,” he said of the provincial playoffs. “The rust showed for sure.”