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Back to skipping, Jacobs embracing return to Montana’s Brier after brief hiatus

Reid Carruthers Brad Jacobs Mantioba Reid Carruthers and Brad Jacobs - TSN

REGINA – Brad Jacobs was only gone a year, but is quickly realizing he missed competing against the best in the country at the Canadian men’s curling championship.

“It turns out being back here that I realized that I did miss it,” Jacobs told “I said at the beginning of the week it almost feels like it’s my first Brier. Silly as that might sound, it kind of does. New province, new team, I’m back playing skip and I missed playing the Brier last year.”

After representing Northern Ontario at 14 Montana’s Briers, the 38-year-old took a brief hiatus from the game following the Lethbridge Brier in 2022, only playing sparingly as a fill-in for Team Reid Carruthers last season.

Now Jacobs is back at the national championship this week in Regina, wearing Manitoba colours for the first time in his career with Winnipeg’s Team Carruthers.

Team Jacobs - with Carruthers at third, Derek Samagalski at second and Connor Njegovan at lead - has yet to drop a game at Brandt Centre after improving their record to 3-0 with a pair of extra end wins on Sunday over Ontario’s Team Scott Howard and Northern Ontario’s Team Trevor Bonot.

“Every game we’ve played so far has come down to me having to make our last team shot,” said Jacobs, who’s shooting 82 per cent for the tournament. “We’ve done that three times in a row and it’s a great feeling.”

Team Carruthers has an off day on Monday before taking on British Columbia’s Team Catlin Schneider and New Brunswick’s Team James Grattan on Tuesday.

“Our team is confident that we can compete with anyone here in Canada, but as you can tell, the competition is very fierce,” said Carruthers. “We’ve had to earn every win. These teams are playing great.”

The top three teams from each pool advance to the playoffs at the conclusion of round-robin play on Thursday.

Carruthers began the 2023-24 season as the team’s full-time skip and had some early success with a second straight win at the PointsBet Invitational in September.

Following the win in Oakville, Carruthers’ rink out of the Granite Curling Club missed the playoffs in two of their next four events, including an 0-4 showing at the National in November.

A change was needed as Jacobs took over skip duties at the Masters in December.

The tweaked lineup made a finals appearance at the Astec Safety Challenge in January before winning the Manitoba championship last month by beating Team Braden Calvert in the final.

“Since we’ve made that move, we’ve been a lot more consistent and I feel like everyone has really bought into their role,” said Carruthers, who owns a lone Tankard from his rookie Brier in 2011 when he played second for Jeff Stoughton.  

Jacobs, a 2013 Brier and 2014 Olympic champion, says he feels he’s back to where he’s most comfortable, calling the game and throwing last stones.

“It feels like home holding the house and helping lead the team,” he said. “It feels natural. It feels like where I belong.”

Aside from his first Canadian championship in 2007, Jacobs’ next 13 appearances at the Montana’s Brier were alongside his cousins in E.J. and Ryan Harnden, otherwise known as the Brush Brothers.

The native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., is now playing in a new province with different teammates and personalities.

“I believe in servant leadership. I believe in doing everything I can to help my guys be better and make their shots better,” explained Jacobs. “Communicate with them and just help them out in any way I can. I think it’s been going pretty well so far.”

Jacobs has always been known for his passion and intensity on the ice during games. That hasn’t changed with the new provincial threads, but Carruthers says the intensity doesn’t take away from his ability to be a solid teammate and leader.  

“Through the intensity, you never really know what kind of teammate he is. It’s almost like he’s got that intensity, you can’t imagine him being a world-class teammate,” said Carruthers, 39. “That’s the thing that I found really interesting. Not only is he fiery, but he’s absolutely got our backs. All of us. Win or lose. He’s a great teammate and I’ve just enjoyed going to work with him.”

This is a busy time of year for Carruthers, the husband and father to one-year-old son Bo.

Carruthers spent over a week in Calgary at the end of February, coaching Team Kerri Einarson at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and dealing with the behind-the-scenes chaos of Briane Harris’ ineligibility ruling.

Despite the loaded schedule, the excitement of the Brier is keeping Carruthers’ battery charged in Regina.

“Anytime you can get to play in the Brier, it brings you to a different level,” he said. “You’re running on adrenaline because you feed off the crowd. That’s how I’ve been feeling out there.”

Still, after playing 22 ends on Sunday, Jacobs and company are ready for some rest on Monday.

“It’s a long week and this bye couldn’t have come at a better time,” said the skip.