The easy joke here would be that having more crowd noise would be infinitely preferable to hearing “HARRRRRRRDDDD!!!!” all the time. (Seriously — broadcasters should consider putting a decibel limit on their on-ice microphones, or just mute them when they’re not talking strategy. Some of us are listening on headphones to avoid irritating the rest of the house, and we’d rather not go deaf.)
But I had started to wonder if the crowd was getting a little out of hand. The Brier (Canada’s men’s championship) is in Newfoundland/Labrador this year — specifically, the beautiful town of St. John’s — and they’re quite excited to see hometown hero Brad Gushue, the 2006 Olympic champion. Gushue is first in the worldwide Order of Merit rankings. (See spreadsheet below.) The next person from the province is 345th.
During last night’s showdown with defending champion Kevin Koe, the crowd wasn’t just cheering the great shots from Gushue and his team. A roar went up when Koe’s team had a rare miss.
(This was a spectacular game, well worth going back and checking out the replay on ESPN3 or seeing it when Curling Canada posts it. If you don’t have three hours to spare, just skip ahead to the 11th end. Yes, 11th. Overtime, basically. And if you don’t understand curling, watch the following …)
So I wondered if it was just me. Nope. Here’s Glenn Howard, for whom “veteran” is an understatement (four world championships and this ridiculous shot): “I’ve never actually seen a crowd cheering as loudly for misses, and I’ve been to 17 of these. This is the loudest I’ve ever seen in my career, for an opposition missing. I’ve never actually witnessed that before so this is new to me.”
The last round of round-robin play is this morning. This afternoon, they’ll play any necessary tiebreakers to determine the four playoff teams. Then it’s the great Page playoffs:
- 1 vs. 2: Winner to final, loser to semifinal
- 3 vs. 4: Winner to semifinal, loser out
- Semifinal: 1-2 loser vs. 3-4 winner – winner to final, loser out
- Final: The two remaining teams
Here’s the situation:
Newfoundland/Labrador (Brad Gushue) is guaranteed a spot in the 1-2 matchup. They’re playing Nova Scotia (Jamie Murphy), which can’t advance.
Manitoba (Mike McEwen) will make the 1-2 matchup if they beat Quebec (Jean-Michel Menard). Quebec is playing for their playoff lives — a win would at least get them in a tiebreaker, a loss means they’re out unless Canada (Kevin Koe) also loses.
Canada (Koe), so named because they’re the defending champions and didn’t have to play in the provincial tournament to get here, is playing New Brunswick (Mike Kennedy) and can reach the 1-2 matchup with a win and some help.
Northern Ontario (Brad Jacobs) has finished round-robin play and will at least make the tiebreaker. If Canada or Quebec loses this morning, they’re in the playoff.
British Columbia (John Morris) is also idle and needs Canada AND Quebec to lose to force a three-team tiebreaker.
Northwest Territories (Jamie Koe, Kevin’s brother) and Ontario (Glenn Howard, see above) are playing each other and cannot advance.
Already done: Saskatchewan (Adam Casey), Alberta (Brendan Bottcher).
It all makes more sense if you see the standings. In short:
- Newf/Lab: 8-2
- Manitoba: 8-2
- N. Ontario: 8-3 (done)
- Canada: 7-3
- Quebec: 7-3
- Br. Columbia: 7-4
Meet all the Brier participants, along with the top Canadians who did qualify, below. They’re ranked by Order of Merit standings, which can be a little deceiving because some curlers have other priorities besides chasing points. OOM is computed over multiple years; “YTD” is year-to-date.