Steve Laycock’s 2016 Tim Hortons Brier team is returning to The Show.
There is a difference though. The four members of the team — Laycock, Kirk Muyres, Colton Flasch and Dallan Muyres — will be spread out over three provinces.
Laycock is playing third for Jim Cotter of British Columbia, while Flasch is playing second for Kevin Koe of Alberta. The Muyres brothers will be representing Saskatchewan.
“That is so cool,” Kirk Muyres said. “As soon as we won ours and Colton won his, Steve texted us and said, ‘Boys, I want to make sure I get a picture of us at the Brier in all our gear.’”
The Laycock team won the provincial championship in Saskatchewan three consecutive times between 2014 and 2016. They finished third at the 2015 Brier in Calgary.
“We had a really good run from 2014 to ’16,” Muyres said. “We are the only team in history to win three in a row in Saskatchewan with the same lineup. So that’s pretty special.
“And for us to do that, and you don’t think that much of it when you are playing in it, you realize how special that was and how special a group we had.
“Now it’s really cool to go to this Brier, take a picture all together, and reminisce about those good days. As we get older, we will really appreciate those years more.”
Muyres is making his fifth appearance at the Brier, but the first as a skip. He said moving up the lineup has been good for him. His brother Dallan, who plays lead, is making his sixth trip to the Brier. Twin brothers Kevin and Dan Marsh play third and second respectively on the Green Team. They are Brier rookies.
“The whole thing is just awesome; it’s rejuvenated me; it’s made me excited to go play again,” Muyres said of skipping. “I knew I needed to get that excitement, those nerves, that pressure going again. I knew as skip I am going to get it all the time. I am enjoying every time I get a chance to throw a shot that means something — as a skip that is almost every shot.”
The Muyres team has been steadily improving as the season has progressed. The 28-year-old skipper said it would have been easy to throw in the towel early in the season.
“There were some rough patches, but they were behind me and the belief they had in me was what pulled us through. That allowed me to learn a little bit about how to skip to be successful.”
Their fortunes turned big time when they won a Grand Slam of Curling tier two event in Thunder Bay.
“I think that was the moment I knew I could skip at that top level and that was the moment the guys really came together and we learned what it took to win.
“I learned at that time that I was the leader and I was the one that had to make the decisions. I was the one who had to lead the group forward. I was so used to being that third man for my whole career and caddying for the skip. Now I am the skip making those decisions and things started to flow nicely.”
Muyres was reminded of the fact Saskatchewan hasn’t won a Brier since 1980, when the Rick Folk did the trick.
“That question never gets old, because every time I get that question it means I’m going to the Brier for another year and that’s always good. At the end of the day we are getting to the point where we can win it.
“We’ve played all these teams; we’ve beat all these teams. We know what it takes to be there at the end of the week and perform well at the end of the week.
“We know we have to play really well every time there and there are going to be three or four moments throughout the week that we have to take advantage of. Those are game-changing, week-changing and they are life-changing moments and we’re going to have to take advantage of it.
“If we can do that and get ourselves into the playoffs on the weekend, then all bets are off and anything can happen. That’s when the real fun starts. That’s the goal; get in the playoffs and see where it shakes out and go from there.”
He said it is impossible to predict those key moments.
“There are those intangible moments that you recognize throughout the week and when you have one of those, you have to take advantage of it. We talk about that and we really relish those opportunities and have fun with them too. Those are feelings you don’t get anywhere else in life.”
And what will it take to win the Brier?
“It’s just finding that little extra gear to beat those really, really top teams and hopefully we can do it (this) week.”