Nunavut lead Bruce Morgan hurries hard to get ready for Tim Hortons Brier


Bruce Morgan

Nunavut lead Bruce Morgan. (Jean Levac, Postmedia Network)

He is a real NUbie.

Bruce Morgan, the lead for Team Nunavut, didn’t own his own curling broom until the day before the Ottawa Tim Hortons Brier began. His curling career began six months ago during the 2014/15 curling season.

“The first time I was ever on the ice or put a slider on the ice was November 2014.,” Morgan said.

He didn’t join a learn-to-curl program but was taught randomly by individual members of the club in Iqaluit. “There was a training seminar about four weeks after I started.” After three days of this current season he was asked if he wanted to curl in the Brier.

His journey to curling was circuitous. Born in London, England, he moved to the Bahamas with his doctor dad and nurse mom. “They saw an opportunity to move to the Bahamas to raise their family because Britain didn’t offer as many opportunities. They had four boys there.”

Eventually, the family moved to Ontario. He landed a food and beverage manager job in Kingston so when the 2013 Scotties were there he went to a few games. It peaked his interest but he never pursued curling. He even visited a friend in Ottawa to watch him curl.

“I never went on the ice. I just watched him,” Morgan said.”

He’s a 54-year-old single man who is now the chef manager of a catering company in Nunavut’s capital. He moved there for a reason.

“I consider London, where I was born, an island. I was raised in the Bahamas then I saw an ad in Kijiji and Iqaluit is an island so I moved there,” Morgan said.

He made history when he threw Nunavut’s first stone at the men’s national championship.

“I didn’t think about it at all but now that I seen stuff in the papers I guess I should have been a bit more nervous,” Morgan said.

With his team outscored 43-8 in its trio of games, he has a positive take on the predicament.

“Nunavut has never had one point,” Morgan said. “So every point we got — no matter which game —I just accumulated them altogether. We can only get better from here. If they are going ahead in 2018 to have everyone in the Brier, then we have three years to get more experience and bring up people behind us.”

Curling is now his passion.

“I really like the ethical values,” Morgan said. “I like the sportsmanship and how everyone — even those attending — and how people watching are appreciative of our first time here and we are not very known to anyone.”

He is impressed by both the skill of the competitors and their attitude. “Everybody has been amazingly supportive,” Morgan said.

He curls on three different rinks and skips them all. That’s one reason Morgan and his team are staying in Ottawa until the end of the Brier.

“I am staying and watching as many Brier games as possible,” Morgan said.

By the way he does have curling shoes. Two pairs. And a broom.

Koe and Koe

Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories defeated Nova Scotia’s Jamie Murphy 7-4 to advance to the round-robin competition. Koe’s rink played four games in three days in the pre-qualifier with an evening game yet to play on Saturday.

“My front end is bagged after playing five games in three days,” Koe said.

Meanwhile, Alberta’s Kevin Koe, Jamie’s brother, lost an extra-end first game to Ontario’s Glenn Howard.

Koe’s reaction: “I’m not going to let one close game get us down too much.”

Howard and Howard

In that extra-end game against Alberta the Ontario front of end of Scott Howard and Adam Spencer had to sweep the skips last shot to the four-foot to win.

Glenn Howard proudly said, “I got to give Scotty credit. It was probably the best game he played all year. I thought he played really solid. He’s fired up and he wants to play. We’re father (and) son — lets have some fun and play. It’s extra special playing with my son.”

Scott Howard stood alone near the media scrum glowing.

“That was probably the highlight of my life up to date,” he said.

“Watching my dad’s reaction was priceless. To sweep my dad’s final rock in the first draw of the Brier in front of thousands of people everyone cheering us on is something I will never forget.”

In the stands

There were plenty of celebrity curlers at the first draw — Blake MacDonald (formerly of Kevin Koe’s team), Emma Miskew (the third for Rachel Homan) and two new mothers with their children — Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones and Dawn McEwen.

The worst of the draw

A concession stand called Dog Willie with a graphic of a hot dog sells only pizza.

The best of the draw

There was a big crowd on hand for the opening draw.

Attendance was announced as 7,210. Capacity is 8,200.

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