Lakeshore Curling Club foursome to represent Nova Scotia at Brier
Skip Paul Flemming, left, celebrates his Molson Coors Tankard win Sunday at Truro Curling Club with mate Ian Fitzner-LeBlanc. Flemming defeated defending champion and Lakeshore clubmate Jamie Murphy 8-7 for the title and a trip to the Tim Hortons Brier March 2 to 10 in Edmonton. Matthew Veno – Truro Daily News
TRURO – Paul Flemming is headed back to the Tim Hortons Brier.
Flemming and his Lakeshore Curling Club team of Ian Fitzner-LeBlanc, Graham Breckon and Kelly Mittlestadt, nipped defending champion and clubmate Jamie Murphy 8-7 in Sunday’s Molson Coors Tankard provincial men’s curling championship final at Truro Curling Club.
The victory punched the foursome’s ticket to the national championship March 2 to 10 in Edmonton.
“It feels great,” Flemming, a 44-year-old Halifax resident, said. “I’m really proud of the guys for having a solid 10th end and we took it home.”
Flemming last competed at the Brier in 2011 as a mate for Shawn Adams. He also threw third stones for Adams in 2005, skipped Nova Scotia in 1998 and 1999 and was a mate for Mayflower’s Mark Dacey in 2001.
“We haven’t really thought that far ahead yet,” Flemming said of the Brier. “We’re just going to have a couple cold ones and soak it all in for now.”
It looked as if Flemming would romp to the Tankard title early in Sunday’s final. Flemming opened with three in the first end and added three more in the fourth for a 6-3 cushion at the break.
“We knew they weren’t going to roll over,” Flemming said. “They’re such a good team, so strong,”
He was right. Murphy battled back with a pair in the sixth end to make it a 6-5 game. Flemming made it 7-5 in the seventh before Murphy knotted the game in the eighth.
“I’ve been in that situation personally so many times and so has Kelly,” Flemming said. “But the big thing is you try to manage the scoreboard late in the game and any time you can be tied up with the brick coming home you’re in pretty good shape.”
Flemming ran Murphy out of rocks in the ninth and stole a single in the tenth for the victory.
“We just kept our emotions in check,” Flemming said of pressure-cooker ending.
Although he came up short, Murphy said he was satisfied with how his team fought back to make the game interesting.
“You’re always disappointed to lose but we put on a good battle and made him play 10 ends when it was looking bad early,” he said. “So we’re happy with our performance.”
A title win seemed like wishful thinking for the Flemming squad early in the tournament. The foursome went 0-2 on opening day before finding their game Thursday with three wins. Flemming was one of four teams to finish the roun robin at 4-3 but earned a spot in the semifinal against Murphy – which Flemming won 8-6 to go to the final – thanks to a better head-to-head rating and draw to the button stats.
“We got off to a rough start,” Flemming said. “But we got stronger as the week went on.”