Morgan Currie and Ian MacAulay are P.E.I. Tankard champs.
The Island-born Ontario residents were part of the winning Bryan Cochrane rink that ran the table at the modified triple-knockout championship at the Montague Curling Rink.
“It’s a dream come true, not only for me but also my friend Ian MacAulay,” Currie said Sunday.
Curling Canada implemented a new birthright status eligibility rule in the spring for this year’s Tim Hortons Brier and the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. It allows athletes to choose playing in the province they live in or the one they were born in.
“When we heard about this policy (change) we got very excited,” Currie said.
Currie is from Summerside while MacAulay calls Souris home.
Cochrane was able to join the team as its permitted free agent under a rule that has been in place for a few years. The trio, which curl together out of the Russell Curling Club in Russell, Ont., near Ottawa, won the 2019 world senior men’s championship in Norway.
The world champs then looked for a player to complete their P.E.I. squad.
“We felt very fortunate in our team to be joined by Mark O’Rourke,” Currie said of the recent Prince Edward Island Curling Hall of Fame inductee who has attended 10 Briers and other curling nationals during his career.
“We thought of Mark right away,” Currie explained. “As soon as we started to talk about Mark, I said I’ll call him because I couldn’t wait to talk to him.”
Currie curled with junior teams in Summerside and played against O’Rourke and his Charlottetown-based teams. They curled against each other in men’s but hadn’t played together. Currie also started curling at the same time as O’Rourke’s wife Kathy in Summerside.
Mark jumped on board and the team was formed. They curled together in the Monctonian in October and the O’Rourkes visited Ottawa about a month ago to get some more practice and games in together.
“We just meshed really well,” Currie said. “We have a very similar viewpoint on the game.”
The Cochrane rink, which represented the Cornwall Curling Club, went 7-0 in the Island championship. They defeated Charlottetown’s Eddie MacKenzie rink 8-1 in the A final and 8-4 in the B final and completed the sweep by defeating Charlottetown’s Philip Gorveatt 7-4 Saturday night in the C final. Having won all three events, a championship round wasn't required.
“I think we’re very happy, relieved and possibly even a little bit surprised that we went through undefeated,” Currie said. “We faced tremendous competition from the great players and the great teams here, which we expected.”
While it is a bit of different situation having three non-residents win the provincial title, Currie said everyone was very supportive of them. He said Curl P.E.I. and local media were supportive of him and MacAulay as they made their senior men’s world championship run and always referred to them as Island natives.
“It was a real homecoming for us because we have good friends here who play, some of them were just instrumental for me in learning to curl and some of them were actually in the event,” Currie said.
The winning team is expected to visit the Cornwall Curling Club on Tuesday. Cochrane and MacAulay will fly home later that day while Currie is staying a bit longer to spend time with his father Doug and visit friends in Summerside.
“He was down here watching every game all week,” Currie said of his father.
The team’s attention will soon turn to the Tim Hortons Brier, Feb. 29-March 8, in Kingston, Ont. As news broke back in Ontario of the trio’s victory, Currie said he was getting numerous messages from family members, club members and friends booking tickets to the Brier.
“I think P.E.I. will have a strong contingent of supporting fans in Kingston,” he said.