The Greg Smith rink which won the 2018 Newfoundland Labrador men’s curling championship Sunday is only the fourth Tankard-winning team in the last 35 years to be comprised entirely of first-time winners.
The fact Brad Gushue-skipped rinks have won 14 of the last 16 Tankards is a big contributor to that statistic; before Smith’s victory over Andrew Symonds and his team Sunday Gushue’s 2002 rink, which included Mark Nichols, Jamie Korab and Mark Ward, was the last all-rookie team to represent Newfoundland and Labrador at the Brier Canadian men’s championship.
The other two all-first time Tankard winners in the last 35 years (1984 onwards) were Keith Ryan and his Labrador City crew (Gary Pinsent, Mike Ryan and Dennis Langdon) in 2001 and John Boland and his team from Gander (Phil Kiely, Bob Skanes and Dave Mayne) in 1991.
Every other rink over that period included at least one other regular player who had previously won a provincial men’s championship.
Smith, Matthew Hunt, Andrew Taylor and Ian Withycombe will be wearing N.L. colours at the 2018 Brier beginning March 3 in Regina. It won’t be the only St. John’s-based rink at the event since Gushue, Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker will be there as defending champion Team Canada.