LONDON, Ontario — Morning can’t come soon enough for Ryan Fry at the Canadian men’s curling championship.
Brad Gushue couldn’t agree more with Fry, who plays second for Newfoundland and Labrador’s playoff-bound team at the Tim Hortons Brier after a pair of decisive wins Wednesday.
Both are eager to get on the ice with Brier leader Jeff Stoughton first thing Thursday morning as the 11-game round-robin tournament winds down and teams will know by day’s end who will make the playoffs that start Friday.
The reason? They believe the team plays better in the morning.
“We’re starting to feel more comfortable with the ice and the morning games are a little easier than the afternoon games ‘cause you’re not sitting around for six hours when you wake up. It’s a lot easier to stay energized,” Fry said after a confidence-boosting 9-3 win over Shawn Adams on Wednesday morning.
They followed up with a smooth 6-5 victory over James Grattan of New Brunswick in the afternoon.
“We don’t like the morning’s off at the Brier because you just sit around your room and watch TV and you go for one meal and you come out feeling a bit sluggish in the afternoon,” Gushue added. “At least in the morning you get into a routine. You’re up, you’re awake and we seem to come out a little bit better.”
And one more reason: “I like having the afternoon off because I’m getting old now so I can go for a nap and be ready for the night game, too,” added Gushue, 30, with a chuckle.
(The team played just one other morning game, a win over Saskatchewan’s Steve Laycock.)
Gushue was impressed following the past two games by the team’s improved performance at the John Labatt arena including third Mark Nichols and rookie lead Jamie Danbrook.
“Mark had a rough day Tuesday and he came back better,” Gushue said. “I’m starting to feel a whole lot more confident and Ryan’s been confident all week. Also Jamie has actually played very well the past few games.
I’m pretty optimistic.”
Gushue was tied with Ontario’s Glenn Howard and Alberta’s Kevin Martin at 7-2. Jeff Stoughton regained first place with a 5-1 win over Martin. Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario remained in contention at 5-4.
Depending on the outcome of other games and if Gushue wins his final two against Stoughton and Quebec’s Francois Gagne, Newfoundland and Labrador could finish as high as second.
Losing both games combined with two last wins by Jacobs would result in a tie for fourth place and an extra game to settle the final spot in the playoffs.
The top four teams make the Page playoffs, a system that pits the first and second place teams with the winner advancing to the Sunday night Tankard final.
The loser plays in a Saturday night semi-final against the winner of a playoff between the third and fourth place teams.
Said Fry: “We’re in the driver’s seat for the playoffs.”
Meanwhile, Winnipeg was selected as the site for the next Olympic curling trials December 1-8, 2013 to determine the men’s and woman’s teams to compete in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
NOTE: This version has been corrected due to a gramatical error.