Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fowler playing underdog role again

Former champ lurking, should give Stoughton, McEwen trouble

  • Print

At a Safeway Championship where almost all the attention is focused on whether Jeff Stoughton will win his 11th Manitoba men's curling championship or Mike McEwen wins his first, Brandon's Rob Fowler seemingly has everyone right where he wants them once again.

No one in recent memory has thrived in the role of underdog more than Fowler, who was virtually ignored all the way to a Manitoba men's title in 2012. Once again, he's skipping in the shadows this week where the dominant narrative continues to centre on the record-setting legend that is Stoughton and the hard-luck upstart that is McEwen.

That doesn't leave much room at the MTS Iceplex this week for what is also a pretty compelling story in Fowler, who has represented Manitoba at four of the last seven Briers -- the first three (2007, 2009, 2010) as second for Stoughton and the last one as skip of his own team.

Fowler said that's fine with him, noting that all the attention being heaped on Stoughton in particular is richly deserved, giving his dominance of this event in recent years and his particularly strong play over the past month, including the recent Continental Cup in Las Vegas.

"If that's the way you want to go with it, Jeff has won this thing six out of the last eight years," said Fowler. "So how do you not pick him to be the favourite? He's the clear-cut favourite. He's hot after Vegas, but at the end of the day, if you can work yourself into a game against him on Saturday or Sunday, we know we can beat him because we beat him before. So that's where we want to be at the end of the week."

Fowler beat Stoughton in the 3 vs. 4 Page playoff game in 2012, en route to a memorable Sunday that saw him beat Willie Lyburn in the semifinal and then stun the heavily favoured McEwen in the final.

Proving he was no fluke, Fowler went on the next month to finish the Brier round robin in second place at 8-3, before losing the 1 v.s 2 game to eventual champion Glenn Howard of Ontario and the semifinal to Kevin Koe of Alberta.

So, can he put together a run like that again?

"Yeah, for sure," he said after a 7-4 win over Gladstone's Geoff Trimble. "That's the goal at the start of every year. Obviously, this year we wanted to be in the Roar of the Rings and we came a couple games short of getting there. So the focus shifted to this and that's our goal here this week."

Fowler's Olympic dream died at a pre-Trials event in Kitchener, Ont., a few weeks before the Roar of the Rings, where Sault Ste. Marie's Brad Jacobs won the right to represent Canada in Sochi.

With that disappointment now behind him, Fowler said his team -- third Allan Lyburn, second Brendan Taylor and Derek Samagalski -- are playing carefree these days.

"I think we're maybe a little bit more relaxed. We played eight out of the 10 weekends in the fall, which was more than we normally play and frankly maybe we played a little bit too much.

"So having had a break and getting back to a bit of a practice routine and training has I think relaxed us. Now, we obviously want to win, so we'll just go out and enjoy the process and have some fun doing it."

While their win over Trimble wasn't exactly dominating -- they were clinging to a 5-4 lead before breaking things open in the ninth end -- Fowler said that too is maybe a good omen for his team this week.

"In 2012, we started off a lot like we did today," he said. "We didn't play our best game at the start of the week, we played our best game at the end of the week. Other years, we were dominant early and weren't that way on the weekend.

"So, you just kind of got to pick up momentum as you move forward and play your best at the end."

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

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 30, 2014 D5

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Cheapskate: Cheap summer weekends

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Winnipeg’s best friend the dragon fly takes a break at English Gardens in Assiniboine Park Wednesday- A dragon fly can eat  food equal to its own weight in 30 minutes-Standup photo- June 13, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 060711 Chris Pedersen breeds Monarch butterflies in his back yard in East Selkirk watching as it transforms from the Larva or caterpillar through the Chrysalis stage to an adult Monarch. Here an adult Monarch within an hour of it emerging from the Chrysalis which can be seen underneath it.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who are the real Bombers?

View Results

Ads by Google