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The Stu Sells 1824 Halifax Classic may be missing its defending champion but the third annual curling event will still ice a strong field.
The cashspiel that begins on Thursday (4:30 p.m.) at the Halifax Curling Club features 16 teams, including former world and Olympic champion Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador, six-time Nova Scotia Deloitte Tankard champion Jamie Murphy and 2019 Nova Scotia Tankard winner Stuart Thompson.
Murphy lost 5-4 to Ontario’s Glenn Howard in the Stu Sells final last year and is excited to be back on the ice for the $20,000 cashspiel.
“We’re very lucky in this region, no question,” said Murphy. “We’re lucky to have organizers that are willing to put them on and the clubs that are willing to host them, and great teams are willing to come. Other parts of the country, due to restrictions can’t even put events on. So we're very lucky in this region for a magnitude of reasons.”
The cashspiel is only the second of the season for the Murphy rink that includes Paul Flemming, Scott Saccary and Phillip Crowell. They lost 7-5 to Thompson in the semifinal of the Dave Jones two weeks ago at the Mayflower Curling Club. Gushue defeated Thompson for the championship.
Murphy says his foursome is trying to find their footing like all the other rinks in the region.
“Everybody is in a pretty similar boat. There’s always a fair share of makes and misses early in the season. Nobody has had a lot of time to play and compete.”
Other rinks looking to claim the winner’s prize of $6,000 are Travis Colter, Paul Dexter, Andrew Gibson, Brent MacDougall, Matt Manuel of Halifax; Chad Stevens and Graeme Weagle of Chester; Trent Skanes, Andrew Symonds, Colin Thomas and Greg Smith of St. John's, James Grattan of Oromocto and Scott Jones of Moncton. The championship game is Sunday at 1 p.m.
We’re lucky to have organizers that are willing to put them on and the clubs that are willing to host them, and great teams are willing to come. Other parts of the country, due to restrictions can’t even put events on. So we're very lucky in this region for a magnitude of reasons.
- Jamie Murphy
Murphy expects the deep field to deliver some elite curling.
“For the year that it is, it’s teams in the Atlantic bubble,” said Murphy. “But you have the top teams in every province here this weekend. It will be every bit as good an event as it was the first two years.”
Off the ice, the look will be different with no spectators at the Halifax Curling Club. Fans can watch the games streamed live on Bell and CBC.
“It’s a little different without fans,” said Murphy. “It takes away from it a little bit, but they will have some streaming this weekend for friends and family to take it in.
“There are some restrictions, but it seems the Halifax Curling Club is really on the ball and everything has been well described to the players. It was great at the Dave Jones and it will be every bit as good here.”
Business as usual
It’s been business as usual for the Murphy foursome once they were allowed back in the rink. They are preparing for the provincial Tankard and if all goes well a trip to the Tim Hortons Brier.
“We are just practising and preparing that there’s going to be that on the line,” said Murphy. “We still enjoy the game, enjoy each and enjoy competing. So at the end of the day, that’s what we are focused on.
“We weren’t sure there would be a curling season so the fact that we are able to play and enjoy the sport we love is pretty cool.”