Jakubo rink goes unbeaten to claim Brier berth

Mitch Calvert

As the old adage goes, three strikes and you’re out.
That held true for the Brad Jacobs rink (Sault Ste. Marie), who beat all comers at the NOCA men’s provincial playdowns here except Mike Jakubo—suffering their third-straight loss to the Copper Cliff rink within a week in Saturday night’s final by a 9-4 score.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Jakubo said after the victory, which secured a berth at the Tim Hortons Brier next month in Calgary.
“This is our first year together,” he noted. “We felt we were the right fit and, as it turns out, we got a break this year.
“And the guys played absolutely fantastic all week.”
The two teams traded deuces in the second and third ends, but the turning point came in the fourth when Jacobs looked to be in good position to steal.
But a failed attempt to put up a guard with his second-last rock allowed Jakubo an opening—and he converted on a double-takeout and then one final straight take-out with his last rock to score one.
“That was a tricky end for us. We just needed to make solid shots and they played it tough on us, but we kept plugging away at it and left ourselves with not an easy shot, but an easier shot,” Jakubo recalled.
“We were able to stay calm and make that one to get the point.”
A steal of two by Jakubo in the next end led emotions to boil over on Jacobs’ side as third E.J. Harnden threw his broom after their final rock failed to make a dent on the two Jakubo rocks sitting in scoring position.
Jacobs scored a single in the sixth after the mid-game break, but Jakubo notched two more with the hammer in the seventh to extend his lead to 7-3.
Jacobs added another single in the eighth, but Jakubo scored one final deuce in the ninth, leading to handshakes.
Jakubo also had beaten Jacobs 10-7 in the ‘A’-side semi-finals on Wednesday, and then again 8-5 in the 1-2 playoff game Friday night.
The older, more experienced rink used that edge to their advantage—never getting too flustered despite the inevitable ebb and flow that a curling event of this magnitude is sure to provide.
“It’s the way we know we have to operate,” Jakubo said of keeping their emotions in check. “We stay calm both inside and outside, and just focus on the game and on each shot rather than getting too far ahead of ourselves.”
Jacobs beat Mike Assad (Thunder Bay) 8-6 in an extra end in Saturday’s semi-final to get another shot at Jakubo within 24 hours, but the Copper Cliff rink proved too tough once again.
Despite being one of the farthest teams from home (hailing from the Sudbury area), Jakubo said Fort Frances made him and his team feel right at home all week long.
“We had never been to Fort Frances, but we have nothing but amazing impressions of the people, the host committee, the curling club, [and] the drivers,” Jakubo stressed. “Everybody just made us feel right at home and that was a huge help for our team.”
Jakubo, lead Lee Toner, second Luc Ouimet, and new third Matt Seabrook now will turn their attention to the Tim Hortons Brier on March 7-15, where they’ll be representing Northern Ontario.
“Three of us have been there before in 2005,” Jakubo noted, referring to his lead and second. “It gets bigger and bigger every year, so I’m sure there will be a lot of new stuff for us to digest, and there’s always lots of distractions at the Brier.
“But we know after being there once how to handle those things and focus on what we need to do,” he stressed.
With Jon Solberg as third, the Jakubo rink went 3-8 at the 2005 Brier, and so are hopeful for a better result in their second go-around.