Sault Ste. Marie native Brad Jacobs is no stranger to the big-stage, and this week marks the 2014 Olympic Gold medalists’ twelfth appearance at the Tim Hortons Brier.
At this year’s men’s nationals, Jacobs’ rink is certainly considered one of the favourites. Not only is the team ranked No. 1 in the world, but last fall they added veteran Marc Kennedy at third; an addition the team hopes will help carry them over the edge.
Kennedy, who previously curled for Team Canada’s Kevin Koe, took a break from the game in 2018-19. However, when Jacobs came calling, the St. Albert native knew it was the right time to make a return to the game.
“I felt like I was ready to give my all again, and that was the only way I was going to come back, if I was going to be at a hundred percent,” Kennedy said of the opportunity to return.
Kennedy’s addition to the team came after a rather unfortunate year with previous third Ryan Fry. At an event in Red Deer in the fall of 2018, Fry was involved in a “drunken incident,” causing him to take an indefinite leave from the game.
Fry’s leave provided the opportunity for Team Jacobs to bring Kennedy on as a replacement third at the 2018 Canada Cup in Estevan. Sask., an event the squad would go on to win.
It was that experience in Estevan which made Kennedy realize he would fit in well, when the team eventually asked him to join on full-time.
“When I got the call, I was excited and that kind of gave me an answer as to what I wanted to do,” he said.
For Jacobs, bringing Kennedy onboard should give the team what it needs to return to the success they enjoyed several years ago.
“He brings a tone of experience, phenomenal mechanics and delivery. Just a great third I would say, helps me about a tone on the back end,” Jacobs said of Kennedy’s unique abilities.
“He’s really helped bring us together as a team and he’s really helped develop an awesome dynamic.”
With Kennedy on-board, Jacobs’ rink has their sights firmly set on the championship here in Kingston.
The road to victory this week will not be easy. Team Jacobs dropped their first draw of the tournament Saturday night to Team Alberta.
Northern Ontario enters the round robin in Pool B, alongside the likes of Brad Gushue (two-time Brier champion and 2006 Olympic gold medalist), and Brendan Bottcher (two-time consecutive Brier runner up).
The team will need to curl their very best all week if they hope to be alive come next weekend’s playoffs. Jacobs is certainly no stranger to this kind of pressure – he has made the final four seven times in his last 11 visits to nationals.
While the Northern Ontario rink has enjoyed modest success over the last several years, they would like nothing more than to repeat the success of 2013’s championship run.
Despite the fact that Team Jacobs’ main focus this weekend is on winning the Tim Hortons Brier, the 2022 Winter Olympics are more than likely at the back of their minds. A victory here in Kingston will guarantee the team a spot at the Olympic Trials next December in Saskatoon.
For now, the Northern Ontario foursome will focus on playing their very best curling over the next eight day, hoping they’ll have what it takes to win another national championship.
Dylan Chenier is a busy student, writer and actor. When he’s not writing about his favourite sports like curling or auto racing, he can often be found on-stage or behind the scenes at the Domino Theatre. Follow him on Twitter for more 2020 Brier coverage at @DylanC98.