It's safe to say the early returns for the new-look Team John Epping have been favourable.
The Toronto foursome was the last rink standing at the very competitive Shorty Jenkins Classic in Cornwall on Sunday, beating Team Brad Jacobs, 5-3, in the final. Sunday's win was especially significant for third Ryan Fry, who spent the previous seven seasons with Jacobs and his Sault Ste. Marie rink.
Epping and Fry, alongside the front end duo of Mathew Camm and Brent Laing, went 7-1 over the five-day event, only losing to Team Jacobs in the round robin. They also beat Brad Gushue, 7-4, in the quarter-final and Peter De Cruz, 7-2, in the semi-final.
Last weekend, Team Epping captured the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard in their first event as a foursome. It's early, but two victories in two events played means this squad could be the real deal this season.
Team Jacobs, who were playing their first event with new third Marc Kennedy, held a perfect record going into the championship game, including a 6-2 victory over Brier champ Kevin Koe in the quarters and a 9-5 win over Braden Calvert in the semis.
Scotland's Ross Paterson and Switzerland's Yannick Schwaller both qualified for the playoffs, but fell in the quarter-final round.
Other notable names in the stacked 24-rink field that failed to make the playoffs included Matt Dunstone (3-2), Brendan Bottcher (3-2), Bruce Mouat (3-3), Reid Carruthers (2-3), Glenn Howard (2-3), Thomas Ulsrud (2-3), Jason Gunnlaugson (1-4) and Scott McDonald (0-5).
On the women's side of the draw, Team Jennifer Jones started their pursuit of a Canadian championship with an impressive 7-0 showing, beating Sayaka Yoshimura in the quarters, 6-1, Gim Un Chi in the semis, 9-0, and Tracy Fleury in the final, 6-4.
This will be the second season that Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes and lead Dawn McEwen play with new second Jocelyn Peterman.
This was the first event for Rachel Homan after giving birth to her first child back in early June. The Ottawa-based rink won their first five games before falling to Winnipeg's Team Fleury, 5-4, in the semifinals. Second Joanne Courtney, who also gave birth to her first child in July, was replaced by Lindsay Dubue for the Shorty Jenkins Classic.
Defending world champ Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland, Scotland's Eve Muirhead and Northwest Territories' Kerry Galusha all lost in the quarter-final round.
Sweden's Anna Hasselborg (2-2), Jamie Sinclair of the United States (2-2) and Suzanne Birt of Prince Edward Island (2-2) all missed the playoffs.
The men's purse for the event was $59,000 while the women had a $34,500 purse.
Booster Juice Shootout
In Edmonton, Winnipeg's Team Kerri Einarson got off to a strong start in their second season together by downing the defending Scotties champions in Team Chelsea Carey, 7-2, to take the Booster Juice Shootout.
Einarson, third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Meilleur won all eight of their games including beating Saskatchewan's Robyn Silvernagle in the quarters and Japan's Satsuki Fujisawa in the semis.
Team Carey, who made an epic comeback in the Scotties final last winter against Team Homan, were also sporting a perfect record before running into Team Einarson in the final.
Casey Scheidegger and Kelsey Rocque both lost in the quarter-final round while Darcy Robertson (3-2), Sarah Wark (3-2), Laura Walker (3-2) and Michelle Englot (3-2), who is returning to competitive curling this season after a brief retirement, all missed the playoffs.
Further West, New Westminster's Sean Geall and Maple Ridge's Kristen Ryan captured the King Cashspiel.
Geall, who skipped BC at the 2018 Brier, capped off a perfect weekend by beating 2013 Olympic trials finalist Jim Cotter, who is playing his second season with third Steve Laycock, in the final, 5-3.
Three time Canadian junior champ Tyler Tardi lost in the quarters to Wes Craig.
Team Ryan lost 8-1 to Team Diane Gushulak in their first round robin game, but then reeled off five straight to take the title.