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Brier guide for beginners: Curling schedule, main draw and the patch

WATCH ABOVE: Brendan Parker speaks with first time Brier skip Reid Carruthers of Manitoba

CALGARY – The Tim Horton’s Brier is set to begin and while there are many diehard curling fans who travel to Canada’s national men’s curling championship every year, we can’t assume everyone in Calgary has attended a prior Brier. Here’s what you need to know if you’re a Brier beginner.

Brier pre-qualification

Calgary’s Jamie Bourassa and his crew of 18 volunteers have worked hard all week getting the ice at the Saddledome ready for the best curlers in the country. The first three teams to compete on the ice will be Adam Casey’s rink from P.E.I, Bob Smallwood and his Yukon foursome and Nova Scotia skipped by Glen Macleod. These three teams will compete in a brand new pre-qualification round. Only one of these three teams will qualify for Saturday’s main draw of the Brier.

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The very first action at the Saddledome will be Thursday night at 7 p.m. when P.E.I takes on Yukon. Nova Scotia will see action in two games on Friday, at 8 a.m. against Yukon and 3:30 p.m. against P.E.I.

Before the 3:30 p.m. match will be the start of a fun competition called Ford Hot Shots. For the last two decades, the big names at the Brier have thrilled crowds in the Hot Shots event competing as individuals throwing a variety of skill shots. The opening ceremonies start at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning followed by the finals of the Ford Hot Shots at 11:15 a.m. The cool thing for curling fans? The pre-qualifier, the Hot Shots competition and the opening ceremonies are all free admission!

Brier main draw

The Brier main draw starts 1:30 p.m. Saturday March 1. Twelve teams from across the country start a nine-day quest to become Canada’s national champion. The first six days will be the round robin portion of the Brier, where each team gets to play each other and each session will see all four sheets of ice packed with action all at once. There will be two draws Saturday and Monday at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. while Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday see three draws a day at 8:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. 

Kevin Koe
Canada’s Kevin Koe delivers the stone at the 2014 World Men’s Curling Championship in Beijing, China, April 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Alexander F. Yuan

No doubt the Dome will be off the hook for Tuesday night‘s meeting between Team Canada and Team Alberta. Last year Kevin Koe skipped the Brier winning team but left shortly after to take over the squad of retiring legend Kevin Martin. That team is Team Alberta, and it won the Alberta playdowns to get to the Brier, while last year’s winners are now called Team Canada and got direct entry. They have filled the void left by Koe with famous skip John Morris. All eight of these curlers have played with and against each other, both teams train at the Glencoe Club in Calgary, and there’s enough friction on the ice for this Tuesday night match-up to be a must-see!

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The final round robin draw goes Friday March 6 at 8:30 a.m. There could be tiebreaker action at 1:30 p.m. while first playoff action goes at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Saturday March 7 will see two playoff games at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. and the Brier wraps up Sunday March 8 with a bronze medal match up at 9:30 a.m. followed by the gold medal match at 5 p.m.

John Morris
Team Alberta third John Morris throws a rock in Edmonton, Alta., on March 1, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Catch the “Patch”

At some point during the Brier, some toe-tapping music and the sounds of socializing will draw you into the Brier Patch. This year it will be located in the Big Four building at Stampede Park. Your same-day event pass gets you in. Live music, miniature curling competitions, mingling with the stars of curling, food and drinks. Just think of it as your own little Calgary Stampede pre-qualification.

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So bring your banners, signs, flags and voice, and make this year’s Brier as colourful as possible!

WATCH: Al Cameron with Curling Canada joins Jenna Freeman live on Global Calgary with details on the 2015 Tim Hortons Brier.