Must See: A Manitoba Miracle!
With the Tim Hortons Curling Trials quickly approaching, TSN.ca will profile one men’s team and one women’s team each day before the first rocks fly on Nov. 20 at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.
Team Jason Gunnlaugson
Skip: Jason Gunnlaugson (Age 37)
Third: Adam Casey (32)
Second: Matt Wozniak (38)
Lead: Connor Njegovan (29)
Coach: Garry VanDenBerghe (60)
Curling Club: Morris Curling Club
Events: 6 (1 win)
CTRS Ranking: 7
Highlights: Team Gunnlaugson have qualified for the quarters in a pair of bonspiels this season, but came up short at the Masters and the National on the Grand Slam circuit, going 2-3 and 1-3, respectively, against stiff competition. They struggled at the Trials Direct Entry event with a 1-5 showing, forcing them to play the Pre-Trials event where they picked up their lone victory of the season.
How They Got Here
Qualified for the Tim Hortons Curling Trials by beating Tanner Horgan in the A-side final at the Home Hardware Curling Pre-Trials in Liverpool, N.S., in late October.
Nov. 20 – Off Day
Nov. 21 – John Epping
Nov. 22 – Mike McEwen
Nov. 23 – Tanner Horgan
Nov. 24 – Brad Jacobs, Brad Gushue
Nov. 25 – Brendan Bottcher
Nov. 26 – Kevin Koe, Matt Dunstone
Expert Analysis by TSN's Russ Howard
Team Gunnlaugson will win the Trials if…
"Winning the Pre Trials, gives Team Gunnlaugson momentum. When they catch fire they are capable of beating anybody in this field. They need to do it more often."
Jason Gunnlaugson, skipping Justin Richter, Braden Zawada and Tyler Forrest, qualified for the 2009 Olympic Trials after defeating Mike McEwen in the C-side final at the Pre-Trials.
At the Trials, Gunnlaugson went 0-7.
Gunnlaugson has been an alternate at the past two Olympic Trials, playing for Jim Cotter in 2013 and Brendan Bottcher in 2017.
Matt Wozniak has played in the last two Trials as McEwen’s second. Team McEwen missed the playoffs in 2013 with a 3-4 record. However, four years later they were in the final at the 2017 Trials, losing to Kevin Koe in heartbreaking fashion on the final shot.
This will be the first Olympic Trials for Adam Casey and Connor Njegovan.
"To get to the Trials was a huge goal for us," Gunnlaugson said after his Pre-Trials win over Horgan last month. "This is a tough event, but it was a lot of fun and we got through it.
"So, pretty happy with that."
Last Four Years
Gunnlaugson started skipping a new foursome during the 2017-18 season which included Njegovan at lead stones.
They’d go on to qualify for the first-ever Brier wild-card game but lost to McEwen and were sent home packing.
Two years later, curling nomad Casey was brought into the fold as a second and the move helped Gunnlaugson win Manitoba and qualify for his first Tim Hortons Brier.
At the Kingston Brier in 2020, Casey joined Ryan Fry as the only curlers to play for four different provinces at the Canadian championship.
Team Gunnlaugson put together a pretty solid week, highlighted by a round robin-winner that has gone down as the ‘Manitoba Miracle’ thanks to the call from TSN’s Bryan Mudryk. The team made the championship pool and finished with a 5-6 record.
They received an invite to represent the prairie province at the 2021 Brier inside the Calgary bubble after provincials were cancelled, this time earning a record of 6-6.