The magic didn’t last long, but Nova Scotia finally turned heads — for the right reasons — at the Tim Hortons Brier.
Ian Fitzner-LeBlanc’s Mayflower rink got itself in the win column after opening the Brier with five straight losses, earning a shocking 13-8 blowout upset over heavily-favoured Kevin Koe of Alberta yesterday afternoon at the Metro Centre.
The 25-year-old Fitzner-LeBlanc had the crowd of 4,017 fixated when he jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two ends and then scored a record-tying six in the fifth end to grab an insurmountable 11-2 lead that looked like a misprint.
Even opponents such as Glenn Howard and Brad Gushue, playing on neighbouring ice surfaces, stopped and took note when Fitzner-LeBlanc earned a share of Brier history with just the fourth six-ender in the past 23 years.
“It was a big relief, for sure,” Fitzner-LeBlanc said. “We’ve been battling so hard, the crowd has been so great, and unfortunately, we haven’t given them much to cheer about. When we were able to put six on the board and create some space, it was a rewarding feeling.”
Koe, a World Curling Tour star who is making his Brier debut in part due to the absence of Olympic gold-medallist and provincial rival Kevin Martin, was disgusted with his performance.
“Brutal game,” he said. “We were down, we had to gamble, and we didn’t make our shots.”
Koe bounced back in the evening with a 7-2 triumph over 1996 Brier champion Jeff Stoughton of Manitoba.
Fitzner-LeBlanc, the second-youngest skip at the Brier, and teammates Stuart MacLean, Kent Smith and Phil Crowell were unable to keep the momentum rolling in the late draw, falling 7-2 to the winless, shorthanded Yukon/Northwest territories.
The territories were without skip Jamie Koe, Kevin’s younger brother, as the 32-year-old was at Saint Mary’s taking an accounting exam. Third Kevin Whitehead filled in.
Nova Scotia and the territories are tied for last with P.E.I. at 1-6.
“He played tremendous,” Fitzner-LeBlanc said of Whitehead. “He made everything. Credit to him.”
- Labrador retriever fetches top U.S. dog breed honor for record 28th year7 Pictures
- Oscars 2019: Red carpet looks and full list of winners36 Pictures