A slow start at Canada’s Olympic curling trials usually means trouble.
Only one team in the history of the trials has made the playoffs after losing three of its first four games. Manitoba’s Kerry Burtnyk accomplished the feat in 2001, eventually losing to Kevin Martin in the final. No four-loss team has ever made the playoffs.
Winnipeg’s Team Reid Carruthers started 0-2 in Ottawa this week, but have fought back to even their record at 2-2 after a close 7-5 victory over Team John Epping of Toronto Tuesday morning.
Lead Colin Hodgson says any sort of closed-door team meeting wasn’t needed after dropping games to Mike McEwen and Kevin Koe to kick off the week. All it took was a good soak.
“We just went in and enjoyed ourselves. We got a rental house and a hot tub, so we did everything we could just to stay relaxed. We know how long of a week it is,” said the 27-year-old.
The skipper and team alternate Craig Savill provided the calming influence the team needed after a rough start.
“They knew what not to do, which was implode because of momentum we didn’t have going for us,” said Hodgson. “So I think it was just staying calm that created that atmosphere.”
Carruthers has been battling a cold all week in the nation’s capital and thinks his team has yet to reach their peak.
“I’m still trying to battle this cold, so I’m not shaking hands with these other guys. I’m not a jerk,” Carruthers joked. “We’re trying to get a little momentum, but we’re still not flying on all cylinders. We had a couple breaks early on it that game and we managed to close it out, but it was maybe just a little sloppy.”
The skip, who competed at the 2013 Olympic trials as a Jeff Stoughton’s second, was forced to draw to the button against three Epping rocks with his last shot in the 10th – not a situation you want to be in with hammer. Hodgson says their games are rarely pretty, but the pressure might turn out to be helpful down the road.
“It’s probably the best thing that could have happened to us,” said the lead. “Knowing how to make that shot and how big of a game it was if we lose that, it’s practically over for us.”
All things considered, Team Carruthers can probably afford to lose one more game this week and still have a good chance at the playoffs or a tiebreaker. Two losses would more than likely put them out, meaning a win against either Brad Gushue or Brad Jacobs is a must.
“The way I see it, if get to 5-3 or 6-2 it will give us a shot,” said Carruthers.
Carruthers takes on Gushue Tuesday night followed by John Morris on Wednesday, Jacobs Thursday and finally Brendan Bottcher on Friday night to cap off the round robin.