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Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2018
A major change to Team Horgan lineup
by Randy Pascal

Moving up the ranks, in the world of elite curling, is not all fun and games.

Local skip Tanner Horgan announced on Monday, via Facebook, a change to the roster of his team that will compete in the Men's Open events in 2018-2019.

The local rink have added 29 year-old Woodstock native Mark Kean to the team, serving as vice. The rejigged lineup sees Tanner Horgan remain at skip, with younger brother Jacob sliding down from vice to second, and Smooth Rock Falls native Maxime Blais remaining at lead.

The shuffle means that Nicholas Bissonnette will not see action in the Men's bonspiels, a very difficult decision for Horgan and company. It's a move not made any easier by the fact that the current quartet who have reached the podium at the Canadian Junior Curling Championships three years running, all are eligible to return next year.

With Kean obviously not in that mix, a decision still remains with regard to the exact lineup that the Junior Horgan team will take to the ice when it looks to represent the NOCA at nationals for a sixth straight time next January.

The addition of Kean, however, comes with a larger vision in mind.

"We have been looking, in the sense that we want to get to that next level," noted (Tanner) Horgan. "We've had some pretty good success at the juniors, we haven't quite done it all, but I think our next step was definitely trying to form a team that could maybe earn enough points to get into Slam events."

"Heading into next year, we will likely be seeded around 22-25 in the World, so we're into the tier two slams. I don't think the team that we currently had was ready for that quite yet."

"That being said, it really did just kind of come about with Mark. We had been friends with them on Tour, we had played them three times, got to know the team after the games. It just kind of happened after provincials. The two of us got talking and it seemed like such a good fit."

With a broad scope of junior and Slam experience already on his resume, Kean also represented Ontario at the Tim Horton's Brier in 2015, posting a record of 5-6 with a team that he skipped.

As much as Team Horgan have already proven that they can compete, to an extent, with the big boys on the men's open side of the draw, there is something to be said for those curlers who have been there before.

"Bringing another person on that has that experience in the house, that has that experience with winning big games, but also bringing in that outside perspective as well – it's all positive."

"Every other team that we have had so far has generally been developed in-house," Horgan added. "This is very different. Mark has a career already – he's had his own coaches, developed his own ideas. That can be very beneficial, especially in the long run, bringing in a new perspective that can help you grow as well."

The reality for both the local crew and those with whom they compete on Tour is that there is a stark financial reality in play when one hopes to contend with the likes of Brad Gushue, Kevin Koe, Brad Jacobs.

"It's a tough part of sport," Horgan conceded. "The one thing that has become really at stake for us is the financial aspect of playing at this level. At a certain point, you kind of have to view it as a business – that's where all the teams are going these days."

Ironically, both Jacob Horgan and Nicholas Bissonnette are currently in New Brunswick, looking to repeat as national U18 champions with a team that also includes Max Cull and Shane Robinson.

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