Saskatchewan staged an upset victory against one of the Brier’s top teams.
And it wasn’t even close.
The third-ranked Brad Jacobs rink had been undefeated until Saskatchewan handed them an 8-4 loss in just eight ends.
“(Northern Ontario is) obviously a great team so you know going into games like that you’ve got to play your very best to have a chance and something that isn’t good enough against teams like that,” said Team Saskatchewan coach (and past Brier champion) Pat Simmons.
And it was Saskatchewan’s best game of the tournament.
After a blank first end, Saskatchewan rallied to lay four in the second. Northern Ontario came to score one in the third and fourth, but Saskatchewan laid three in the fifth, essentially sealing their win. Though they did go on to score one more in the seventh end.
“This was by far our best game and obviously trending in the right direction which was great,” Simmons said. “(We) made the big ones when we had to and kept the pressure on which was good.”
Northern Ontario, on the other hand, never seemed to get comfortable in the morning draw.
Perhaps in part because they were without one of their regulars: lead Ryan Harnden was ill and unable to play requiring alternate Tanner Horgan to step in.
Brad Jacobs said it’s the first time they’ve ever gone down a man during a tournament.
Perhaps it was fortunate, then that Saskatchewan was able take advantage.
Simmons, who has won two Briers himself, said he’s seeing the team come together at the right time after feeling some hometown team pressure to start the tournament.
“I think they’re just settled in. Getting use to the surroundings and the home crowd and the ice and everything. Steve’s doing a good job of reading it now and everyone’s getting a good feel of getting rocks in good spots in draws.”
Saskatchewan plays 0-5 Nunavut Tuesday night and a win would see their record improve to 4-2 with just one round-robin game remaining.
The top four teams in the eight-team pool a will move on to the Championship pool on Thursday. Tuesday morning’s win significantly upped Saskatchewan’s chances of being there.
“I think now it’s more just trying to take care of what we can control so just trying to improve and get as fine-tuned as we can knowing that the games are going to get tougher as the week goes on,” Simmons said.