It’s official — every province and territory has now won at least one official game at the Tim Hortons Brier.
Nunavut made history at the Canadian men’s curling championship thanks to a 7-4 win over Newfoundland and Labrador in the first game for both teams at the 2023 edition of the event in London, Ont. Jake Higgs and his rink of Sheldon Wettig, Brady St. Louis and Jeff Lichty out of the Iqaluit Curling Club stole singles in the ninth and 10th ends to salt the win away.
They now sit atop their pool as part of a four-way tie following completion of action on Saturday.
In the post-match media scrum following the win, Higgs, who’s playing with the team as the out-of-territory player under Curling Canada’s rules, was just trying to take it all in.
“The crowd was so great it almost made me want to tear up,” he said. “You just try to keep breathing. I was nervous out there and you say just make all the shots you can and let the chips fall where they may.”
Nunavut started the contest with last rock in the first end, but Newfoundland and Labrador would steal a single to go up, 1-0. Higgs would score two in the second to go out in front, 2-1, and the teams would trade singles from the third end to the eighth. At 5-4, Nunavut would steal one to increase their lead to 6-4, and another steal in the 10th and final end sealed the deal and set off some wild scenes at the Budweiser Gardens.
The big shot of the game came in the final end courtesy of Higgs — he could’ve played a double takeout to remove two Newfoundland and Labrador rocks, but he chose to play a hit-and-roll behind a guard. That took away any chance for Newfoundland and Labrador to score at least two and tie the game.
Higgs even said the hit-and-roll was his shot choice all the way.
“Most of the teams here will play the bullet-weight thin double,” said Higgs. “That’s not my shot. I’m more control weight, make the nice hit and roll.”
Nunavut is scheduled to be back at it on Sunday morning against Manitoba at 9 a.m. EST, followed Northern Ontario in the evening at 7 p.m. EST.