CORNWALL, P.E.I. – The Eddie MacKenzie rink is heading back to the Tim Hortons Brier after a 12-4 win over John Likely to earn the P.E.I. Tankard Sunday in Cornwall.
The MacKenzie-skipped foursome defended their P.E.I. provincial men’s curling title with a solid performance that saw it jump out to a 6-1 lead through five ends then drop a five-spot in the ninth.
At that point, Likely conceded, the rinks shook hands and MacKenzie had skipped his fifth Tankard winner and moved on to the Brier, which takes place March 3-11 in Regina, Sask.
Not bad for a team with a new second (Christ Gallant) and third (Josh Barry) and last year’s third, Sean Ledgerwood, returning to lead.
Or for team that hadn’t practised much before the event and Barry living in Nova Scotia.
“We made enough shots to win, played pretty well. We practised throughout the year and just kind of gelled (in Cornwall). These guys have a lot of experience,” MacKenzie said. “We had the hammer to start and we wanted to get a deuce on the even end and follow through.”
That’s exactly what happened as the teams blanked the first end then MacKenzie hit a solid takeout with the hammer in the second to score two. He stole one in the third before Likely drew for a single in the fourth.
MacKenzie nailed a draw in the fifth for three and put his rink up 6-1. The Likely foursome fought back and scored three more during the next three ends, countered by a MacKenzie single in the seventh, and closed the deficit to 7-4.
But MacKenzie took advantage of some missed shots by the Likely rink to score five in the ninth and ice the championship.
Likely’s rink was even more unlikely to reach the final as its first games as a team were Thursday on the tournament’s opening day.
“This is a team that got together and ended up doing alright. Went in for a little fun,” Likely said. “We didn’t play good (Sunday), it’s pretty simple. We played good up until (Saturday).”
With the modified, triple-knockout format, Likely needed to win twice on Sunday to claim the title. Had he won the early game, a second championship was set for 7 p.m. MacKenzie needed to win one of the two games to take the crown.
Likely’s rink also included third Robert Campbell, second Matt Nabuurs, lead Robbie Doherty and alternate Mark O’Rourke.
P.E.I. Tankard winners this decade (skip to lead)
2017 – Eddie MacKenzie, Sean Ledgerwood, Matthew Nabuurs, Robbie Doherty.
2016 – Adam Casey, David Mathers, Anson Carmody, Robbie Doherty.
2015 – Adam Casey, Josh Barry, Anson Carmody, Robbie Doherty.
2014 – Eddie MacKenzie, Anson Carmody, Tyler MacKenzie, Sean Ledgerwood.
2013 – Eddie MacKenzie, Anson Carmody, Alex MacFadyen, Sean Ledgerwood.
2012 – Mike Gaudet, Tyler MacKenzie, Tyler Harris, Sean Clarey.
2011 – Eddie MacKenzie, Mike Gaudet, Mike Dillon, Alex MacFadyen.
2010 – Rod MacDonald, Kevin Champion, Andrew Robinson, Mark O’Rourke.