They were hoping to go out with a championship.
It wasn’t to be.
On their final weekend together, capping a mostly-successful seven-year run, the members of Team Brad Jacobs bowed out in Saturday’s quarter-finals of the Champions Cup in Saskatoon, the final event of the Grand Slam of Curling season.
“Absolutely, that was our goal,” said third Ryan Fry, who is leaving a team which also includes second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden. “We played as a team and tried our hardest, but that’s part of curling.”
“We did want to go out with a championship,” Jacobs told The Sault Star, moments after his rink had dropped a 4-1 decision to Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher. “We just didn’t bring our best stuff today (Saturday). And you have to be near perfect against those guys. They’ve had a tremendous season.”
On March 15, members of the Jacobs rink announced they had reached a mutual decision and Fry, a 40-year-old Winnipeg native, would be leaving a team he helped lead to a 2013 Tim Hortons Brier championship and a 2014 gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
A week later, the team announced the addition of 2010 Olympic champion Marc Kennedy, who will play third in place of Fry next season.
On April 8, Team John Epping announced Fry was to be added as a third next season, dropping Mat Camm to second stones. Brent Laing will be the rink’s lead.
“For sure, it’s emotional when a chapter of your life ends,” Fry said following his final game with the team. “But that’s life. You have to challenge yourself and have new experiences and that’s something I’m looking forward to.”
Part of the reason for the change, he added, has to do with not wanting to become stagnant.
Asked about his time with Jacobs and the Harnden brothers, Fry told The Sault Star how he’ll “absolutely miss them. That includes everyone who supported us in Sault Ste. Marie. They’ll be my buddies for life and now we’ll be friendly rivals.”
Jacobs called their final game together “the end of an era,” adding “this was emotional. We’ve been through it all together.”
The skip also lauded Fry, talking about how the veteran curler contributed so much to the team.
“He was the main reason we won what we won,” said Jacobs, whose team also grabbed a silver medal at the 2013 World Championships and captured top spot in four Grand Slam of Curling events since the addition of Fry.
The Sault skip also talked about how, in a sport where lineup changes have become commonplace, he was proud of the fact the team stayed together for seven seasons.
“It was a heck of a seven years with him and the bond and friendship we all formed is lifelong and lasting,” Jacobs said.
Having finished round-robin play in the six-day event with a 2-2 record, Jacobs needed to play a tiebreaker Saturday morning to grab the eighth-and-final playoff spot.
The Sault team defeated Regina’s Matt Dunstone 6-3.
Against Bottcher, Team Jacobs found itself locked in a 1-1 tie entering the fourth end.
With his last in four, Jacobs barely missed a double. That allowed Bottcher to use hammer to draw for two, and a 3-1 lead.
With the fifth end hammer, Jacobs made an impressive shot, picking out a Bottcher counter to blank the end.
However, in the sixth end, Jacobs was playing a hit with hammer, but wound up crashing on a guard. That allowed Bottcher a steal of one and a 4-1 lead.
“That was a big swing, being down three,” Jacobs admitted.
In the eighth end, Bottcher ran Jacobs out of rocks to wrap things up.
With a long season now over, Jacobs spoke of how “we’re looking forward to taking a break from curling.”
Notes: Bottcher went on to win his third straight Grand Slam crown, stopping Kevin Koe 6-5 in Sunday’s men’s final.
On the women’s side, Silvana Tirinzoni stopped Kerri Einarson 6-3 in the championship game.