Adam Casey has enjoyed a rather nomadic Tim Hortons Brier experience since making his debut at the national men’s curling championship five years ago.
He made three appearances with Brad Gushue’s team from Newfoundland and Labrador before skipping his own rink out of Prince Edward Island the past two years. Now Casey is back at the Brier with Saskatchewan, becoming just the fifth player to win purple hearts with three different provinces or territories.
“I think ideally you’d stay with the same group of guys and you’d get to know every little intricacy about them,” Casey said Sunday. “But I think that’s not always a reality. You always have that search for the right fit.
“I think that’s what’s been happening to me the last few years.”
Casey and Brier rookies Catlin Schneider, Shaun Meachem and Dustin Kidby are off to a good start at this year’s competition with two wins in their first three games.
They dropped a 6-5 decision to Manitoba’s Mike McEwen in their opener before rebounding Sunday with an 11-5 win over Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher and an 8-3 victory over Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories.
McEwen, Canada’s Kevin Koe and Nova Scotia’s Jamie Murphy lead the round-robin standings at 2-0. McEwen beat Gushue 8-4 on Sunday morning and Kevin Koe topped Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario 6-4.
Jacobs bounced back in the afternoon with a 9-8 extra-end win over Quebec’s Jean-Michel Ménard. British Columbia’s John Morris beat Mike Kennedy of New Brunswick 8-3 and Murphy defeated Bottcher 11-6.
Jacobs and Casey were tied in fourth place at 2-1 entering Sunday evening’s draw.
Gushue, Kennedy and Ontario’s Glenn Howard were next at 1-1, followed by Morris at 1-2. Ménard (0-2), Jamie Koe (0-2) and Bottcher (0-3) remained winless.
Casey, a 27-year-old industrial process specialist, won a Canadian junior title in 2009 on a PEI team skipped by Brett Gallant, now a second with Gushue.
Casey played with a different rink while he studied in Halifax but they didn’t get out of Nova Scotia playdowns. He joined Gushue in 2011 and made his first Brier appearance the following year in Saskatoon.
He left the St. John’s-based team in 2014 and was replaced by the returning Mark Nichols. Casey’s P.E.I. team then went its separate ways last spring.
Settled and happy in Charlottetown but still wanting to play on an elite team, Casey reached out to a few players at the time but there were no vacancies. He soon heard from a Saskatchewan team looking for an experienced player.
“Shaun and Catlin gave me a call and I honestly didn’t know who they were,” Casey said. “I’m not lying when I said ‘Who the hell is Shaun Meachem’ when I got off the phone. But he sounded like he was talking a good game.
“So I Googled him and they had a way better season than we did last year so they can’t be half bad.”
Casey also liked that they had similar ambitions. A couple of follow-up phone calls sealed the deal.
“They really wanted to make a push to get to this event and get to the [Olympic] pre-trials and those are my big goals for the season,” he said. “So it was easy after that point.”
The only other men’s players to win three different provincial or territorial championships are Morris (Ontario, Alberta, B.C.), his father Earle Morris (Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario), Ryan Fry (Manitoba, Newfoundland, Northern Ontario), and Chris Schille (Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, NWT).
Based out of the Highland Curling Club in Regina, Casey’s team played a load of bonspiels this season. Casey would try to fly out early when possible and they worked the kinks out in game settings.
“Kudos to the guys, they stuck it out,” Meachem said. “It could have blown up at any moment but Adam kept getting on the plane and we all kept showing up at spiels. We just worked it out.”
Casey upset Steve Laycock to win the provincial title in blowout fashion. With former Brier champion Pat Simmons on board as coach, the team hopes its momentum will continue at Mile One Centre.
“They’re a really good group in a sense that I think they have all kinds of potential and yet they’re already playing at a very high level,” Simmons said. “So that’s a nice thing for us to see in Saskatchewan.”
Casey will play Menard on Monday afternoon before a feature evening matchup against Gushue. Round-robin play continues through Friday with the medal games set for March 12.
“I think this team is capable of making the playoffs,” Casey said. “And then I think one hot skip is all you need to win the thing.”Report Typo/Error