It was the first time Dave Thomas and his relatively new curling team played at the Tankard, but already he’s hoping it won’t be the last.
“We played in the Traveler tournament,” said Thomas. “(We’re) only one year together as a team, so this is our second year now.”
Thomas says that Brad Gushue’s absence at this year’s tournament prompted some new teams to enter.
“For years in Newfoundland Gushue has won the Tankard, so very few teams have entered the Tankard because there was no sense. Gushue was always going to win it. They have such a good team.”
When Gushue joined Team Canada at the Brier, Thomas and his team members decided to enter the Tankard even though they would enter as underdogs as the only team not coming in from the Re/Max Centre in St. John’s.
“They have great ice,” said Thomas. “The icemaker had the ice really fast, really swingy, just like proper Brier ice.
“The competition was excellent. Phenomenal.”
Thomas admits the faster ice and high level of competitors posed some challenges.
“I struggled personally with the quickness of the ice, the difference from here, so by the end of the week we started to feel it, but we did well. We did what we figured we would do.”
Although his team didn’t get a win, it did push a couple of games right down to the last rock. Over the course of the week the team members pushed themselves hard.
“Right now the thought is that we will probably re-enter again if everyone stays healthy and well,” said Thomas. “I think the experience we had this year is invaluable to entering next year – just playing on the ice of that quality and that speed will help us now next year adjust our game to be better.”
Thomas says faster ice means the way the rock is released matters much more.
“On our ice we can get away with having a very slow spin on our rock but on the ice that has more curl, you don’t get away with that as much.
“We really want to work on our releases to make them more precise, more accurate and sharper.”