Scott Chadwick says he still hasn’t fully processed last week’s Brier experience, but one thing’s for sure — he can’t wait to go back.
The Napanee native, serving as lead for Team Ontario’s Scott McDonald, saw his team go 6-5 at Canada’s premier curling event, held in Brandon, Man, finishing tied for fifth overall. After an 0-2 start against two of the tournament’s top teams, Ontario rallied to win four of its next five to reach the championship pool. Ontario kept on winning to open the playoffs, topping Saskatchewan 7-4 and Northern Ontario 7-6 before back-to-back losses to Brendan Bottcher’s Wild Card team and an 8-4 loss to Manitoba ended their tournament run.
“The big takeaway is I really want to get back,” said Chadwick when asked to reflect on last week. “It always kind of felt like, I don’t know if dream is the right word, but this dream bonspiel that I hoped one day I’d get to and now that I’m there and competing at it, I really want to get back there and get a crack at winning it.”
Ontario opened the tournament with a 7-6 loss to Brad Gushue’s Canada team followed by an 8-5 loss to Kevin Koe’s Alberta team. Koe would go on to top Bottcher in the final.
“Looking at the schedule, starting with Gushue, the two-time defending champion and then Koe, who just won his fourth this week, that’s not an easy way to step into your first Brier experience,” said Chadwick. “Before the first game, (TSN commentator) Vic Rauter came down and said to me, ‘This is Game 1 for you guys and Game 210 for Brad.’ Not an easy start but we played really well those first two games. Even though we lost them both, we were making a ton of shots. We stayed confident and held our composure and it gave us a lot of confidence going into the rest of the week and we were able to rattle off a few wins in a row.”
After winning three straight in pool play, Ontario seemed well on its way to the next round until a heartbreaking extra frame 9-8 loss to New Brunswick. That set up a must-win match against British Columbia to close out pool play. Ontario was able to pick up two points in the 10th end to steal a 10-9 victory.
“Our big goal was to be playing on the final weekend, in order to get there we had to make the championship pool,” said Chadwick. “We put ourselves behind the eight ball starting 0-2 and dropping a tough one to New Brunswick later in the week. We really had to come out firing against British Columbia’s Jim Cotter, who is a world class team. That was a big win on Wednesday night to get into the Championship Pool.”
Though they came up short in their bid to capture the Brier, the season to date has been nothing but a resounding success for the former member of the Napanee District Curling Club in his first year with the McDonald rink, which also includes Wesley Forget at second, Jonathan Beuk at third with Jeff Grant as alternate.
“We made three pretty lofty goals at the start of the year and we hit them all out of the park,” said Chadwick. “At the start of the year all of us wanted to play in a Grand Slam, we checked that off the box in November. Then we wanted to play in the Brier, which we checked off the box. Then, in curling, the winning number is 60. If you can get to 60 wins in a season, you’ve had a fantastic year. Our win against Northern Ontario was No. 60.”
During the tournament Ontario got plenty of national exposure as well, as Chadwick says five of their games were broadcast on TSN. Back in Napanee, he received plenty of hometown support.
“We tried to stay off social media and our phones as much as possible, we were solely focused on winning games,” said Chadwick. “But you’d get off the ice with 100 text messages and a couple hundred social media posts. It’s been a busy couple of days since we’ve been knocked out to try and catch up and tell everyone thanks for their support all week.”
As great as his season has been, it may not yet be over. The team is currently awaiting the release of the world rankings to see if they qualify for the Players’ Championship, which will take place April 9-14 in Toronto.
They’d need to finish as the 12th ranked team in the country to qualify, they’re currently hovering around 12th and 13th.
“We’ve done the math and it’s really close,” said Chadwick. “We just have to see where the chips lie here.”
The rankings for the Players’ Championship are expected to be released later this week.