Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Also-ran bunch headed for playoff

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KAMLOOPS. B.C. -- There's still another four draws of round-robin action to be played here at the Tim Hortons Brier -- three draws today and one more Friday morning -- but we already know which four teams are now outside looking in at next year's Brier.

With an 8-3 loss to New Brunswick Wednesday morning, P.E.I. fell to 3-5 and became the fourth and final team that will have to play its way back into the Brier next year as part of a new format.

Nova Scotia, at 0-8, was also relegated earlier this week. Those two provinces will join Nunavut and Yukon in a special four-team playoff that will take place immediately prior to the start of next year's Brier in Calgary.

Only one team will advance from the special playoff to compete in the actual Brier, while the other three teams will be sent home.

Nova Scotia and P.E.I. were tied with B.C. coming into this year's Brier for the fewest combined wins over the last two Briers (5). But with B.C. off to a blazing 8-1 start at this event, there was never really much doubt that it was going to be P.E.I. and Nova Scotia who were going to end up with the fewest wins in the last three Briers and therefore get assigned to next year's special playoff.

"It was going to be a stretch for us to dig our way out of that to start with," said P.E.I. skip Eddie MacKenzie. "It's unfortunate, but that's the way it goes."

With both P.E.I. and Nova Scotia now assigned to the special playoff, there is no longer any doubt one or the other -- and possibly both -- will fail to qualify for next year's Brier, meaning the 2015 Brier will be the first in the modern history of the event to be held without all 10 provinces represented.

At the conclusion of next year's Brier, the team that finishes with the worst record will join the three others that don't qualify for next year's event in a special playoff prior to the 2016 Brier and so on.

The changes in next year's format were made for two reasons -- to accommodate a new Team Canada that will begin playing in 2015 and to also address the reality of Nunavut joining Yukon and the Northwest Territories as recognized Canadian territories.

-- -- --

Newfoundland's Brad Gushue didn't pull any punches on Wednesday in describing the performance of his 4-5 team this week.

A 5-3 loss on the morning draw to B.C.'s John Morris dropped his squad to five losses and typified the way his team has played all week, said Gushue.

"It felt like I was facing three or four yellows every time I stepped into the hack," said Gushue. "I just never saw a whole lot of shots made in front of me and we never got any ends set up all week...It was a lot of factors but it ultimately came down to us. We didn't play very good..."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 6, 2014 0

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