It’s been nearly 40 years since Saskatchewan has won the Brier, a statistic Team Laycock hopes to change.
Made up of skip Steven Laycock, third Matt Dunstone, second Kirk Muyres and lead Dallan Muyres, Team Saskatchewan has some stiff competition in this year’s event, but also have a strong chance of making it to the championship round and on from there.
“We’ve played all these teams and we’ve beaten all these teams our fair share over the years,” said Kirk Muyres.
“I think if we keep playing the way we have been in the last month or so stretch … I expect us to be on top of the pool and into the championship pool come Thursday/Friday.”
Saskatchewan’s starting pool is made up of Quebec, Manitoba, New Brunswick, PEI, Northern Ontario, Nunavut and Ontario.
The format for this year’s Brier is different than past years but may be familiar if you watched the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
Sixteen teams, one for each of the provinces and territories, plus Northern Ontario, Team Canada, and a wild card team have all been seeded into two pools.
For the first five days of the tournament, the teams will only play within their own pool.
At the end of the day on Wednesday, the teams with the four best record in each pool will head off to the championship round where they will match up against the teams they haven’t played yet.
From there, total records will be counted to determine the page playoffs in which the first place team will play the second place team for a bye to the finals, the second place team will play in the semi-finals. The third and fourth place teams will also play with the loser being eliminated and the winner making the semi-finals.
Team Laycock is hoping that not only will their strong play over the last couple of months will give them a boost, but so will playing in front of a hometown crowd.
“(We’re) really looking forward to the atmosphere I think we’re going to have out there,” said Laycock. “I know Saskatchewan curling fans are the best out there, so really excited to get playing in front of that.”
“Getting to play (a Brier) in your home province definitely (brings) some nerves, the hair sticks up on the back of your neck a little more than some of the other ones,” added Muyres.
“There’s nothing better than a Brier for a curler, and a Brier at home is even better, so I’m nervous and excited.”
Nervous, excited and also hopeful to earn the title for his province for the first time since 1980.
“It’s something I’ve thought about for a lot of years,” Muyres said.
“That would be a pretty cool honour to bring back to the province.”
The Brier kicks off Friday night with the wild card game between two Manitoba rinks: McEwen and Gunnlaugson. The winner stays in the tournament while the loser goes home.
Fans can catch the Friday night game free of charge.
Saskatchewan, on the other hand, plays its first game Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. against Quebec.