SUMMERSIDE – The Players’ Championship marked the beginning of a new chapter in the curling career of Charlottetown native Brett Gallant.
The season-ending event of the Grand Slam of Curling marked Gallant’s debut with the Brad Gushue team in Summerside two years ago. Gallant will return to Eastlink Arena for this year’s event April 15 to 20.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Gallant. “I was able to play in it (Players’ Championship) two years ago, but I wasn’t really a true member of the team at that point.
“I’m looking forward to coming back, and we’ve been playing well on the Grand Slams this year, so we’re really looking forward to playing in front of the home crowd.”
Gallant described his experience at the 2012 Players’ Championship as “a bit of a tryout” with the rink.
“I started out the first year playing second stone, and halfway through the first season moved up to third,” explained Gallant, who holds the record for most wins as a skip in Canadian junior curling history. “It suits me very well.
“There’s still a bit of strategy involved with that, and I’m in the house for Brad’s shots, and I like the sweeping aspect of it as well. It’s a good balance of both worlds. I really enjoy it.”
The Players’ Championship is the season’s final event in the Grand Slam of Curling. The top 12 men and 12 women’s teams on the World Curling Tour are competing in this year’s competition.
“The Players’ is the toughest field you are going to find all year,” said Gallant. “You really have the 12 best teams of the season in one event.
“There is a little extra prize money on the line, and everybody is gunning for that. Being the last event of the year, and for a lot of the teams it’s going to be the last event they play together, it’s going to be some interesting competition and a lot of guys are going to be hungry to win.”
The opportunity to join Team Gushue allowed Gallant to reunite with his former longtime junior teammate, Adam Casey of Seven Mile Bay.
“Adam and I played together for five or six years in junior,” said Gallant, 24. “One of the big reasons I was happy to join this team was to play with Adam again.
“Adam and I have been through it all together. He’s a great teammate, a great shooter, and a good friend.”
Gallant admits “it was a big change” moving to the second- and third-stone positions after skipping for many years in junior.
“I had to learn how to sweep first,” said Gallant laughing. “It’s certainly a different game.
“When you are skipping you are putting the broom down for yourself and you are ultimately making the decision on the strategy, line and all those things.
“When you are playing for someone else, they have that control and there was a bit of an adjustment there, but it didn’t take too long to get used to Brad and the rest of the guys.”
Gallant has had the opportunity to experience some unique opportunities with the Gushue rink. He explained: “We have been to Moscow, Russia, this year, and we’ve been to Switzerland a couple of times and Scotland, trips I probably wouldn’t be making if I didn’t join the team.
“We all get along really well on the ice, and it’s a strong team. Brad is probably the top skip in the game right now, and I really have a good time playing with him.”
While some teams have already announced roster changes for next season, Gallant said the Gushue rink has yet to discuss its future.
“We are just focused on playing this last event,” said Gallant. “Once our season is finished, then we can address staying together going forward.
“Once the Olympic cycle is over, it’s a perfect time for teams to make adjustments. There are a ton of teams doing it, whether we will or not we will cross that bridge once our season is finished.”