A capsule look at the 18 teams competing in the March 5-14 Canadian men's curling championship in Calgary (team members listed skip to lead along with home club location).
Teams listed in alphabetical order in their pools:
Brendan Bottcher, Darren Moulding, Brad Thiessen, Karrick Martin; Edmonton.
Bottcher is looking to end a streak of three straight second-place finishes at the Brier. Don Bartlett will handle coaching duties. He won in Calgary in 1997 with Kevin Martin — Karrick's father — at skip.
Steve Laycock, Jim Cotter, Andrew Nerpin, Rick Sawatsky; Vernon
The veteran team will hit a milestone in its opener as Laycock, Cotter and Sawatsky will all reach the plateau of 100 Brier games played. Tyler Tardi, a two-time world junior champion, is team alternate.
Jason Gunnlaugson, Adam Casey, Matt Wozniak, Connor Njegovan; Morris.
Gunnlaugson lost the play-in game in 2018 before reaching the main draw last year. Casey has previously played for three other provinces at the Brier (N.L., Saskatchewan and P.E.I.).
James Grattan, Jonathan Beuk, Andy McCann, Jamie Brannen; Oromocto.
Beuk will replace Paul Dobson at vice-skip for this event. Grattan made his first career Brier appearance in Calgary in 1997.
Brad Jacobs, Marc Kennedy, E.J. Harnden, Ryan Harnden, Sault Ste. Marie.
Jacobs and the Harnden brothers won Olympic gold in 2014 with Ryan Fry. They enter play as the top-ranked team in the country.
Greg Skauge, Tom Naugler, Brad Patzer, Robert Borden; Yellowknife.
Longtime territorial rep Jamie Koe didn't participate in this year's N.W.T. championship. Skauge, a Brier alternate for Koe on three previous occasions, won a two-team playdown for the berth.
WILD CARD NO. 1
Mike McEwen, Reid Carruthers, Derek Samagalski, Colin Hodgson; West St. Paul, Man.
One of three wild-card entries in the field, McEwen earned the first spot based on his No. 5 national ranking. He won the play-in game last year but didn't make the four-team Page playoffs.
WILD CARD NO. 3
Glenn Howard, Scott Howard, David Mathers, Tim March; Penetanguishene, Ont.
Howard recently hurt his ribs while snowmobiling and will likely turn to alternate Wayne Middaugh more than originally planned. They won a world title together in 2012 with a different lineup.
Dustin Mikkelsen, Alexx Peech, Brandon Hagen, Robert Mckinnon; Whitehorse.
Mikkelsen was acclaimed for the spot after the team skipped by 2020 Yukon champ Thomas Scoffin was ruled ineligible to compete in the territorial playdown.
Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant, Geoff Walker; St. John’s.
Gushue won his third title in four years last season in Kingston, Ont. The team won two bonspiels in Halifax last fall. This will be the first time this season that they've played with the Alberta-based Walker.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Greg Smith, Greg Blyde, Alex McDonah, Evan McDonah; St. John’s.
With an average age of 22.25 years, Smith will skip the youngest team in the field. He's the only one in the foursome with Brier experience.
Scott McDonald, Paul Flemming, Scott Saccary, Phil Crowell; Halifax.
McDonald will be skipping the Bluenosers as a replacement for Jamie Murphy, who declined to make the trip west. McDonald reached the championship pool in his lone Brier appearance in 2019 with Ontario.
Peter Mackey, Jeff Nadeau, Greg Howard, Jeff Chown; Iqaluit.
Mackey beat Wade Kingdon in a two-team territorial playdown last January that went the five-game distance.
John Epping, Ryan Fry, Mat Camm, Brent Laing; Toronto.
Epping holds the No. 2 position in the Canadian rankings and is looking for his first Brier title. Laing leads all players in the field with a .759 career winning percentage at this event.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Eddie MacKenzie, Tyler Smith, Sean Ledgerwood, Ryan Lowery; Crapaud/Montague.
MacKenzie returns for the sixth Brier appearance of his career. He made his debut in 1994 at Red Deer.
Mike Fournier, Martin Crete, Felix Asselin, Jean-Francois Trepanier; Glenmore/Etchemin/Valleyfield.
Crete is the experienced Brier hand of this foursome with eight career appearances at the national championship. Fournier, Asselin and Trepanier return for the first time since they debuted in 2018.
Matt Dunstone, Braeden Moskowy, Kirk Muyres, Dustin Kidby; Wadena.
Dunstone broke through at the Brier last season with a third-place finish. The two-time Canadian junior champion is looking for Saskatchewan's first Brier title since Rick Folk's victory in 1980.
WILD CARD NO. 2
Kevin Koe, B.J. Neufeld, John Morris, Ben Hebert; Calgary.
Koe leads all players in the field with an .824 career winning percentage in the Brier playoffs (14-3). John Morris replaced Colton Flasch at second last March.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press