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Brier: Blog Babes say Buh-Bye

by Margo Weber and Dalene Heck

[Margo says:]

Buh-Bye.

When my old friend gk contacted me to see if I’d be interested in blogging it up at the Brier, I was, like, ‘Hells Yeah!’ A whole week at the Saddledome goofing aroundand showering the curling world with my crazy opinions?! Alas, reality hits. I have a couple of young ones at home and this was not possible. Enter my good friend Dalene Heckwho has been nothing short of fantastic. Definitely the Brier Media Rookie of the Year! I’ll never forget Crotch Cam, Stalkergate or the crazy games we played with our new media friends.I have managed to go to a few games, hit the Patch in style (Oh my GAWD) and send in a post now and then. I’ve met people from across the country, reconnected with old friends, ate too many chicken fingers and had way too much to drink.

gk, hope we didn’t trash up your site too much. You kinda asked for it. xoxo

[Dalene says:]

Peace. Out!

And there you have it. Despite a final substitution when Jeff Stoughton ousted Glenn Howard in Saturday’s semi-final, the 2009 Tim Hortons Brier ended as many suspected it would – with a dominating win by Alberta’s Kevin Martin. What a thrill to be at the Saddledome and watch Martin’s foursome earn their second consecutive Brier, and in front of an excited hometown crowd!

A few weeks ago, if you would have asked me what I’d be doing the week of the Brier, I would have said that I’d be catching most of the games on TV while lounging in my giant-baby-one-piece-footed-pink-camouflage-fleece-pajamas. I never would have expected to meet so many great people (including a new BFF!), take so many pictures of crotches, become a stalker, become a stalkee, do an interview in the CBC Radio studios or help pick the All-Star team.

It’s been an incredibly fun week, that ended with a weekend of exciting curling moments. While I am sad to see it all come to an end, there are many things that I am looking forward to: sleep, spending time with hubby and the kitties, detoxification, sleep, reintroducing vegetables to my diet as a replacement for pocket dawgs, sleep, catching up on all my recorded TV shows, getting back on the treadmill, and sssssllllleeeeeppppp!

Thanks to everyone who helped make this experience what it was, especially my hawt partner in crime, Margo Weber! And to our hubbies for putting up with it all (XOXO).

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Brier: I say Johnny, you say Mo

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – I say Johnny, you say Mo!

Johnny!

Mo!

Johnny!

Mo!

What a crowd!

Given the complete blowout that was the final game, I’m happy to say that I stuck it out and watched Alberta’s Kevin Martin, John Morris, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert get to enjoy their historic Brier victory with such amazing hometown support.

And let’s give a big Hells Yeah to Jeff Stoughton and his Manitoba foursome for the class act that they were in that final game. Jeff’s token spin-o-rama gave the fans one more chance to stand on their feet and salute their tremendous efforts at the end of this week.

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Brier: Sorry, Jeff

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – Game time, and time for my final pre-game blogpost of the 2009 Tim Hortons Brier.

Jim Brown of the Calgary Eyeopener asked me on Friday morning if I thought it was possible for any team to knock Alberta off of their record setting performance. At the time, even when there were still four other exceptional teams in the mix, I confidently answered in the negative. Kevin + John + Marc + Benny = Unbelievably Unbeatable.

My tune has not changed. Martin has won his last six matchups against Stoughton, and that winning streak isn’t going to end here either.

Since my interview on Friday, Alberta squeaked out another one from Ontario, placing them directly in the final. While they only won the 1 vs 2 game by an inch on Kevin’s final draw, I truly believe that in today’s final, they will find a way to again be on the right side of that inch. They will continue doing what they have done for the past 25 games – they will always find a way to win.

This is unfortunate for Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton, who has hit his stride in the last three games. After running the house on Quebec in the tiebreaker, Stoughton continued his own winning streak with wins over Newfoundland and then Ontario to place the Bisons in today’s final.

While these games were largely won on the strength of Stoughton’s red hot shooting (three missed semifinal draws aside!) he was also afforded many an opportunity by his opponents. Brad Gushue’s Newfoundland foursome took too long to get their heads in the game and Glenn Howard curled his worst game of the tournament.

These sorts of opportunities will not be loosely offered up by team Alberta, if at all. Where Stoughton and third Kevin Park have been streaky in their game performances, Alberta has been extremely consistent with nary a blemish to their record. If the Martin foursome let the Brier Tankard slip out of their hands due to a less than stellar performance, it will be nothing short of a catastrophic upset.

Jeff, thanks for making the playoffs exciting after a relatively dull week of curling. Sorry that you won’t be able to see it through.

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Brier: Media scrumming

CALGARY – In this Facebook photo snapped by New Brunswick fan Rebecca Tremblay, we can see the Brier media scrum which followed the epic Glenn Howard versus Russ Howard (and Steve Howard) battle on Tuesday. Click to zoom in (a little).

A gaggle of major curling poobahs are indicated by number. Plus the key on-ice protagonists.

At number eight is the shoo-in for Brier Media Rookie of The Year – if they had such an award – Dalene Heck of The Curling News.

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Brier Patch II: Stalker confrontation

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – To my pleasant surprise, all-star hottie third James Grattan (left) did not run for the hills when he learned who I was. He was aware of his “hottie” status thanks to skip Russ Howard, who actually showed him this blog!

James even offered to keep the Crotch Cam alive by promising to send other pictures, for apparently team New Brunswick has more stylin’ belt buckles in their arsenal.

And yes, that’s me in the middle. Pleased to meet ’cha!

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Brier: There Is Beer

[Editor’s Note: Superstar TCN Blogger Dalene Heck will appear on CBC Radio’s Calgary Eyeopener with host Jim Brown at approximately 6:22 am local time tomorrow, Friday March 13. Dalene will talk about the Tim Hortons Brier, set up the playoff picture and possibly describe her Keith’s Patch adventures from the previous evening. Hoo-wah. Tune in to 99.1 FM, 1010 AM or via the internet from anywhere ]

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – Thursday night at the Brier. A weird buzz overall. Craziness. Last-minute wrestling for a playoff spot. Standing ovations from the crowd (CCA photo by Michael Burns) to those who are headed home. It’s electric.

And, of course, there is beer.

Every day, the event daily Tankard Times churns out profiles on different players. I can’t help but question whether some of the players allow their friends to complete their forms for fun, or perhaps they have ingested a few wobbly pops before putting pen to paper?

Here are a few that have gotten me wondering…

• Nova Scotia third Bruce Lohnes’ nickname is apparently Juicy Brucey. I’m not sure I’d be advertising that little fun fact myself.

• New Brunswick third James Grattan described himself as “sexy”. While I can’t disagree with him (Hello? All star HOT third!) I never pegged him as the narcissistic type.

• The British Columbia team obviously had fun with their profiles. Skip Sean Geall’s profile stated that he loves curling because “there is beer”. Second Kevin Reckseidler described himself as “classy, gassy and sassy”, while lead Mark Olson is “huggable and kissable”. However, third Brent Pierce apparently wasn’t a part of this game as his profile is lacking some pizzazz!

• When asked why he loves curling, Jamie Koe of The Territories responded with: “Two words, The Patch”. I have to say that I believe my good friend JK completed his profile with all honesty. That is the JK we know and love.

PS: This will officially be my last mention of James Grattan. I can smell the restraining order…

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Brier: All-Star voting? Moi?

by Margo Weber

CALGARY – We have a SAY in this stuff?

I learned yesterday that fellow blogger Dalene Heck and I actually have a SAY in who will be on the Brier All-Star team.

Yep. The real one. Not the All-Star Hottie Team. Not the Sense of Ha-Ha Team. Not even the Best Belt Buckle Team. But indeed the real ‘You Can Curl and Should Be Awarded for it’ Team.

You see, the media get to vote on the All Stars. And, can you believe it, we are the media. Ha! Take that, players! Instead of the hardworking people out on the ice voting for their peers, we – the media – get to once again pass our judgement on the curling world. Yay for us!

We need to have our votes in by tonight and I’m super stoked.

I hope that there is no repeat of the Scotties fiasco, where the first and second All-Star teams were actually announced backwards. Both in the presentation at the arena, and for TV, The BC back end of Marla Mallett and Grace MacInnes were shown as first team All-Stars instead of second team. I was like WHAT!? Anyways, total error. Phew!

So, how is it possible that this is how the All-Stars are chosen? Someone enlighten me. Is this some sort of reward for the reporters, a slap on the back, if you will, for a job well done as we clog our arteries with arena food and spend way too much time away from our families? Either way… I’ll take it. I feel like kind-of a VIP. Ha!

Whatever the reason is, I plan not to waste my opportunity to help reward the entertainers we have been watching all week. I will review relevant information. Haircuts will not be used. Belt buckles will be unimportant.

I will use stats. I will pay more attention. Sweeping, judging, line calling, timely shotmaking and perceived team chemistry contribution may enter the picture. In the end, the guys with the best plus/minus will likely get my vote.

I vow to at no time use my hottie team as a reference. I vow to not drink and vote. And I vow to avoid the beloved media bench after posting this article. Except for you, Al Cameron. I will binocular you from my other seats, as per usual.

Wish me luck.

Editor’s Note: Following Margo’s nice words toward Al Cameron, we have joyfully lifted this photo from the Calgary Herald Brier webpages, located here. And a sweet photo it is, from shooter Dean Bicknell.

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Brier: Picking to win, Day 6

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – Can you smell what the Rockies are cooking?

Oatmeal, that’s what’s cooking. Plain, boring, blah oatmeal. Which pretty much describes the curling that has gone on at the Saddledome through Draw 14.

Thank goodness for Glenn Howard and The Shot (and Russ Howard and The Swing), or there would be very little to be excited about thus far. Let’s take another look at some event statistic to tell the story:

• The average points between winners and losers is still hovering around four.

• How about this for another stat: out of 54 total games, only eight have come down to last rock, and only one of those has gone an extra end.

I have high hopes for today, the final draw of the round robin. A lot of these games mean a lot of things to a lot of players battling it out for the playoffs.

While no one has seemed to be able to even test the dominance of Team Alberta (their average points over their opponents is almost five), at least we have seen some weakness in the armor of Ontario, via Quebec’s win yesterday along with close calls against Saskatchewan and the Territories.

No matter for Ontario as far as standings go – they are safe in their quest for the playoffs – but it gives a glimmer of hope to fans who are rooting for a little more drama in their Brier.

No one likes to be able to guess the ending of a movie when they are only three quarters of the way through!

And how do our Pros figure that the round robin will finish off? Click the graphic above to find out!

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Brier: $1,000 fines

TORONTO (Yes, Not Calgary) – Yesterday, Margo Weber pointed out the Dalene Heck scoop on Russ Howard The Broom-Bashing Maniac.

And the TCN Blog has another scoop for you today.

To preface, we point you once again to the Al Cameron story on the Russbash, and his reveal that a very naughty Brad Gushue will be paying a $150 fine – to the Sandra Schmirler Foundation – for saying bad things in his horrific loss to Ontario.

Brad actually said “Hit the guard, Gawddurnit” after third Mark Nichols gassed his peel, which was the third Newfie gakk of the 10th end.

We also direct you to this piece by the Canadian Press, which points out that bad boy Jeff Stoughton got an initial $1,000 fine back in the 2006 Brier – for accumulating offenses – which was eventually whittled down to some $250 or so.

Sorry, media boys. Your chump change amounts of athlete cash payments no longer register. Here’s our reveal.

The Canadian Curling Association is not fooling around. These boys, one and all, were read the riot act prior to the tournament and long before Russ could wind up for his tomahawk, BOOM! BANG! Both Gushue and Stoughton were fined $1,000, just like that.

Goosh was fined for the previously mentioned “Gawddurnit” and, while we haven’t yet heard what Stoughton’s offense was… suffice to say that sometimes Stoughton is just, well, Stoughton.

Russ may have received his notice already, or it might be coming today, but chances are he will get smacked. We shall see if the zebras take it easy on the living legend.

For you Saddledome observers: if you think you’ve spotted a chargeable offense, keep your eyes peeled to the carpet after the matches, where the officials gather. This is apparently when the notes are compared, and decisions are made.

For you TSN observers: sorry, you are S.O.L.

The CCA doesn’t release this info and has no intention of releasing this info. Unless, of course, this blogpost provokes some action on that front.

So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Media Benchers!

BOOM! BANG! CHA-CHING!

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UPDATE: There is flak coming back about the fines, with some Bench Boys insisting that official word on the fines is indeed similar to past years – $250 or so.

We like our sources, but the investigation continues …