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This article was published 28/2/2015 (1721 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
CALGARY — Just about no one is picking Reid Carruthers to win the Brier a week from tomorrow.
That suits Carruthers just fine.
Carruthers, of course, also flew under the radar at the Manitoba provincials earlier this month, gliding almost unnoticed through an event just about everyone expected to be won by either Mike McEwen or Jeff Stoughton.
When the smoke cleared, it was Carruthers standing atop the podium with a first-year team that includes third Braeden Moskowy, second Derek Samagalski and lead Colin Hodgson.
It was all very familiar for this Carruthers squad when they landed here this week to find they're being barely mentioned in a field many expect will be dominated by 2014 Olympic gold medallist Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario, John Morris of Team Canada and Brad Gushue of Newfoundland.
Toss in a hometown Alberta team being skipped by the skip who won this event last year, Kevin Koe, and, well, there's not many here giving Carruthers' Manitoba squad much of a chance.
"I'm not all that surprised," said Carruthers. "But for me, I'm just looking at it as we just need to keep proving ourselves. We're pegged as the underdog and that's fine — it doesn't matter.
"All that matters is who's the champion next Sunday... It takes the pressure off us. People don't expect us to win."
Carruthers won this event — and went on to win a world title — as second for Jeff Stoughton in 2011. Moskowy, meanwhile, previously competed at a Brier for Saskatchewan, while Samagalski represented Manitoba in 2012 with Rob Fowler.
Hodgson is the only team member without Brier experience, but it didn't seem to faze him Friday — the Manitoba lead shot lights out in the pre-event skills competition, registering 26 out of a possible 30 points to advance to today's playoff round.
Manitoba will need to be sharp early — they face Morris in the opening draw this afternoon and then come right back out tonight to face Saskatchewan's Steven Laycock.
"Tomorrow's a big day — if we come out (of) tomorrow .500, that will put us in a good spot," said Carruthers.
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Nova Scotia, which won the first Brier in 1927 and has taken part in every one since then, will miss this one — by the narrowest of margins.
Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Yukon all finished tied Friday night with 1-1 records at the conclusion of a first-of-its-kind pre-event round robin held over the last two days.
Those three teams had been relegated to the pre-event qualifier based on their performance in previous years. P.E.I. and Yukon will now play a single game knockout this afternoon, with one team advancing to play in the regular Brier round robin.
With all three teams tied at 1-1 the tiebreaker to determine which two teams would advance to today's pre-event final became draws to the button. P.E.I. finished first in that contest at 97.9 cm, while Yukon was second at 118.3 cm. Nova Scotia finished a mere two centimetres behind Yukon at 120.3 cm. That two centimetres proved to be enough to eliminate the province from the Brier.
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Paul Wiecek was born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End and delivered the Free Press -- 53 papers, Machray Avenue, between Main and Salter Streets -- long before he was first hired as a Free Press reporter in 1989.