Buffalo Boys finally getting respect

Manitoba skip Rob Fowler delivers his shot during play against Saskatchewan at the Canadian Men's...

Manitoba skip Rob Fowler delivers his shot during play against Saskatchewan at the Canadian Men's Curling Championships in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan March 8, 2012. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)

Terry Jones, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:40 PM ET

SASKATOON - Validated.

When Rob Fowler punched his ticket to the 83rd Brier by winning the Manitoba Tankard in Dauphin, a significant percentage of the populace in the keystone province was doubtful.

It was like, 'We're sending those guys?'

Understandable, when they had Brier defending champion Jeff Stoughton and world tour money leader Mike McEwen. There was also the fact Fowler had never skipped at a Canadian men's championship before and his team of Allan Lyburn, Richard Daneault and Derek Samagalski were all Brier rookies.

"Definitely, that's what everybody was talking about," said Daneault, the team's second. "We had a lot of respect for those other two teams. But we've proved that we're good, too."

The Buffalo Boys ran the table in their final four Brier round-robin games to clinch a playoff position.

"We believed we could win and compete at the top level here," added the 35-year-old former second for Kerry Burtnyk.

"We've just proved that we're a good, solid team that deserved to be here," said third Allan Lyburn, the 40-year-old who once skipped Scotland at the world juniors in Oberstdorf, Germany, before his family moved to the Brandon area to start a dairy farm.

"We haven't won it. But we've put ourselves in position to win it," he said.

The Manitoba foursome scored a 9-3 win over Scott Manners of Saskatchewan in Thursday's morning draw and a 10-4 win over Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario in the afternoon to end up with an 8-3 record.

After having knocked off Alberta's Kevin Koe the night before, the victories put them into a position where a win by Ontario's Glenn Howard over Alberta in the final draw of the round robin Thursday evening would put them in the 1-2 Page playoff game. A loss and they'd be in the 3-4 game.

Lyburn said the curlers knew they were a good team. But until they come here and did what they've now done -- sticking around for the final weekend -- they were not going to be viewed by the public as worthy of wearing the buffalo on their back.

But now, he said, Manitoba has to be happy.

"Jeff is going to retire in a couple of years. Unless you have new blood coming in in ...

"When Jeff retires there will be good teams to take over."

It's been a strange week for Fowler's crew.

"We lost our first game, one which we easily could have won," Lyburn said of a 7-6 loss to Quebec. "We had a meeting and came back and won a few.

"Then we went and lost a few and had another meeting and we've gone and won the last four."

The skip said the week has worked out.

"You want to be playing your best when it means the most," he said.

Howard, who has played a record five extra-end games in this Brier, guaranteed his spot in the Page playoff system 1-2 game when he made short work of Nova Scotia's Jamie Murphy 8-3 in a morning game the Bluenosers abandoned after eight ends.

The win left Ontario with a 9-1 record heading into Thursday night's final round robin-game against Alberta's Koe, who carried a 7-2 record into the day. Koe scored an 8-3 win over Nova Scotia in the afternoon.

His brother, Jamie Koe, finally stopped the bleeding after an 11-3 loss to his brother and a 10-5 loss to Fowler Wednesday, scoring a 9-6 win over New Brunswick's Terry Odishaw to turn the dog sled around after three straight losses.

The Territories team was 6-4 going into an evening game against B.C. With a win, the Territories would be in the 3-4 game, the first appearance in the final four since the adaptation of the Page playoff system in 1995.

When the Territories came into the Brier in the pre-playoff days in 1975, Don Twa ended up finished second.

In 1985 Al Delmage, representing the Territories, made it into a tie breaker but lost.

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terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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