Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Maritime disaster -- putrid P.E.I. loses big, fined $2,000

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LONDON, Ont. -- P.E.I.'s Eddie MacKenzie capped off a disastrous trip to the Brier with two more losses on the final day of the round-robin and the news that his team was $2,000 lighter for their foibles.

As has been happening all week, MacKenzie got drummed Thursday in his two final games, falling 7-1 to B.C.'s Jim Cotter on the morning draw and then 12-3 to Nova Scotia's Shawn Adams on the afternoon draw.

The losses gave P.E.I. a final record of 1-10, but those numbers don't do justice to the sheer futility of this Charlottetown foursome. MacKenzie was outscored 92-38 for the week and, perhaps most revealing, managed to score just six deuces with the hammer in 11 round-robin games.

But just when it seemed like it couldn't get any worse for MacKenzie, the Canadian Curling Association announced Thursday that they were also fining the P.E.I. team $2,000 for conceding after just five ends in an 11-1 loss to Ontario's Glenn Howard on Wednesday.

CCA rules require teams to play a minimum of seven ends.

"I should have played the last two ends in retrospect," MacKenzie said. "I understand it, but when you're in that situation, you're not thinking that far ahead. Typically, I like to play games out, but this week has been pretty tough."

The fine will be deducted from the cash the P.E.I. team is scheduled to receive from the CCA for participating in the Brier. CCA events director Warren Hansen estimated the total package Brier teams receive, including per diems and cresting money, to be worth a base of about $17,000 before playoff bonuses.

Still, no regrets, said MacKenzie. "You never regret winning the province. We'll always have that. We were a first-year team and there were a lot of things we could have worked on before we got here. We put a fair bit of effort into it, it just didn't translate into anything on the ice.''

-- -- --

The increasing lack of parity in Canadian men's curling was on display this week as four of the country's elite skips -- Jeff Stoughton, Glenn Howard, Kevin Martin and Brad Gushue -- put distance between themselves and the rest of the field immediately and never looked back.

Seven of the 12 teams competing here had been eliminated by Wednesday, the same seven teams that also finished the round-robin Thursday with losing records.

It was the kind of romp that Stoughton says we should expect to see more and more as teams with their eye on the Olympics -- like Martin's -- increasingly professionalize the sport of curling.

"It's not a great thing for curling," Stoughton said. "There's definitely some separation... It proved it here and I still think there could be a couple more teams who become almost full-time curlers, like Kevin's team has.

"They separated the last couple years from everybody because they can put in four-hour training sessions. I don't have four hours in a week to try and train."

Indeed, while his team is one of the elites, Stoughton said he feels like they defied the odds a bit here this week, putting up a 9-2 record despite a minimum of preparation.

"It's pretty amazing our guys were able to do this on our 45-minute lunch breaks where we go throw rocks," Stoughton said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 11, 2011 C3

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