Ottawa Citizen

Underdogs have their day at Brier

Saskatchew­an, Nova Scotia score upsets

- MURRAY MCCORMICK

SASKATOON • The underdogs had some unexpected bite during the opening day at the Tim Hortons Brier.

Saskatchew­an’s Scott Manners and Nova Scotia’s Jamie Murphy, both prohibitiv­e long shots at the Canadian men’s curling championsh­ip, recorded victories in their debuts Saturday. Manners, a 39-year-old grain farmer from Lloydminst­er, thumped Mike Gaudet of Prince Edward Island 8-4 in Saturday’s opening round-robin draw at the Credit Union Centre.

Murphy, 30, beat Jamie Koe of the Yukon-northwest Territorie­s 9-5 after scoring five in the fifth end. Murphy’s good fortune continued in the evening draw when he scored four in the first end en route to a 10-4 victory over Gaudet.

“I was nervous all day,’’ Manners said after his first win before 10,001 spectators. “It was nice to play out there, settle down the nerves and get on with the game.’’

Manners was greeted by a huge cheer from the Saskatchew­an crowd during the pre-game ceremonies. He also gave the crowd more to cheer about while scoring threeender­s in the third and fifth ends en route to a 6-1 lead.

“You couldn’t ask for a better crowd,’’ said Manners, who is backed by Tyler Lang, Ryan Deis and Mike Armstrong. “Did you hear ‘Mind your Manners’ out there? I heard it a bunch. It’s just a really good crowd and it’s very supportive. It’s very exciting and I’m just trying to keep my feet on the ground.’’

Murphy was also flying high after his win over Koe.

“It was pretty intense,’’ Murphy said before beating Gaudet. “The first three days (at the Brier) have been a surreal experience. It feels great to get a win under our belt and take a little bit of the nerves out of it going forward.’’

Alberta’s Kevin Koe and Ontario’s Glenn Howard, strong favourites, both opened with victories. Howard hung on for a 6-5 win over New Brunswick’s Terry Odishaw. Koe raced into a 4-0 second-end lead over B.C.’S Jim Cotter en route to a 9-5 victory in the evening draw.

“It’s a good win and you always want to get off to a good start,’’ Koe said. “You don’t want to put yourself in a hole. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win.’’

Koe appeared to be rolling after making a number of precision shots in the first two ends. Cotter bounced back with three in the third end to make the match close.

Murphy (2-0) was alone in first heading into today’s draws. Howard, Koe, Quebec’s Robert Desjardins, Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs and Manners were all 1-0. They are followed by Manitoba’s Rob Fowler (1-1). Newfoundla­nd and Labrador’s Brad Gushue, Jamie Koe and Cotter were 0-1. Odishaw and Gaudet were 0-2.

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