Even without 14-time champion Brad Gushue and his rink, there will quite a few Tankard winners on the ice at Bally Haly Country Club his week.
There will be defending provincial men’s curling champion Greg Smith, of course. But 2000 champ Rick Rowsell and 2006 Tankard winner Ken Peddigrew are heading up teams, too.
Peddigrew, who took the Newfoundland and Labrador title the year Gushue was at the Olympics in Italy, sports a lineup that includes former Dave Noftall, a provincial men’s winner as Gushue’s lead in 2008.
Rowsell’s St. John’s Curling Club team actually includes another Tankard-winning skip. That’s Labrador City’s Keith Ryan, who claimed his crown in 2001. Ryan (who also won as Gushue’s second in 2005) is filling in for an injured Alex Smith on Rowsell’s team.
Others at Bally Haly with Tankard titles to their credit include Andrew Symonds' lead Keith Jewer, who was with Peddigrew in 2006; Greg Smith lead Ian Withycombe; and Andrew Taylor, who was Smith’s second in 2018 and is now with Nick Lane’s St. John’s rink.
But the most notable has to be Jeff Thomas of St. John's, who is the lead on a rink skipped by his son Colin, a three-time provincial junior men’s champion.
Jeff Thomas has skipped three provincial senior men's champions in the last decade. It's part of a curling career that has seen him calling the shots for no less than four Tankard winners. His first Tankard title first came 40 years ago, in 1979. His last was in 1997.
There are plenty of other title-winners competing in this Tankard. For example, Colin Thomas skipped three provincial junior men’s champions, while Trent Skanes, Rod Feltham of Gander and Symonds have all capture the club-level provincial Travelers Championship.
In fact Symonds, who took the national Travelers title in 2015, has to be seen as a top contender this week at Bally Haly, especially after having lost to Smith in last year’s Tankard final.
Mind you, Symonds, will be doing it with a much-changed lineup, one that includes new second Adam Boland, who skipped teams to a provincial junior title in 2013, and a Memorial University to a USports national men’s crown in 2017.
Mark Healy, who had been the longtime third on Symonds’ team (Chris Ford has the job, now), has moved to the same position with Peddigrew.
TWENTY YEARS OF TANKARD WINNERS
Winners of Tankard Newfoundland and Labrador men’s curling championships the last 20 years:
w- 2018: Greg Smith (Matthew Hunt, Andrew Taylor, Ian Withycombe)
x- 2017: Brad Gushue (Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant, Geoff Walker)
2016: Brad Gushue (Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant, Geoff Walker)
2015: Brad Gushue (Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant, Geoff Walker)
2014: Brad Gushue (Brett Gallant, Adam Casey, Geoff Walker)
2013: Brad Gushue (Brett Gallant, Adam Casey, Geoff Walker)
2012: Brad Gushue (Ryan Fry, Adam Casey, Geoff Walker)
2011: Brad Gushue (Mark Nichols, Ryan Fry, Jamie Danbrook)
2010: Brad Gushue (Mark Nichols, Ryan Fry, Jamie Korab)
2009: Brad Gushue (Mark Nichols, Ryan Fry, Jamie Korab)
2008: Brad Gushue (Mark Nichols, Chris Schille, Dave Noftall)
2007: Brad Gushue (Mark Nichols, Chris Schille, Jamie Korab)
y-2006: Ken Peddigrew (Ryan Ledrew, Jeff Rose, Keith Jewer)
2005: Brad Gushue (Mark Nichols, Keith Ryan, Jamie Korab)
2004: Brad Gushue (Mark Nichols, Jamie Korab, Mark Ward)
2003: Brad Gushue (Mark Nichols, Jamie Korab, Mark Ward)
2002: Mark Noseworthy (Bill Jenkins, Randy Turpin, Ian Kerr)
z-2001: Keith Ryan (Garry Pinsent, Mike Ryan, Dennis Langdon)
2000: Rick Rowsell (Peter Hollett, Ken Ellis Jr., Craig Dowden)
1999: Glen Goss (Glenn Turpin, Ken Peddigrew, Brett Reynolds)
w — Brad Gushue of St. John’s competed at the 2018 Brier Canadian men’s championship as defending champion Team Canada and won the event
x — Brad Gushue won the 2017 Brier
y — Defending Tankard champion Brad Gushue did not compete in the 2006 men’s provincial as his rink was representing Canada at the Torino Winter Olympic Games
z — Keith Ryan’s rink from Labrador City is the only non-St. John’s team to have won a Tankard in the last two decades