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This simply does not feel like their very first Brier

Sitting at 5-1 and with just two round robin games remaining, the Tanner Horgan Northern Ontario rink that features Darren Moulding, Colin Hodgson and Jake Horgan like the way that things have lined in this their first appearance at the Tim Hortons Brier.

Truth be told, they felt that way before play started last Friday in London.

"When we looked ahead at the draw, we loved the draw; it's a perfect schedule," said Tanner on Tuesday, enjoying a full day off before recording win number five earlier today, a convincing 9-3 decision over the Kelly Knapp Saskatchewan rink that entered that game with a mark of 2-3.

"We liked having (Reid) Carruthers early because they are a brand new team," added Horgan. "I liked getting those five games out of the way early - and the break in he middle gives us a little recovery time."

After beating Carruthers (wildcard #2) 6-4 and losing to Kevin Koe (Alberta) 7-4, the foursome that knocked off Brad Jacobs en route to claiming their NOCA crown did just enough to upend, in succession, Nunavut (6-4), Newfoundland & Labrador (6-4) and the Northwest Territories (10-6), with Horgan acknowledging on Tuesday that there was still room for improvement.

"We're playing right around our average," noted the first time Brier skip who has attended as a spare for Team Jacobs in the past. "Nothing spectacular yet. The level we are playing right now is close to some of the events that we have played in - but in the last half against the Northwest Territories, we really started to see signs of brilliance and that extra gear is what we will need."

"If we can just bring it up one more notch, I think we will have a really good shot going into the playoffs."

These quotes don't sound at all like a "deer in the headlights" newcomer to the big show - a fact that is not lost in the least on the 25 year-old skip from Sudbury.

"It doesn't really feel like a first Brier," Horgan admitted. "Getting to play in the (Olympic) Trials really broke the ice for us. It just feels like we really belong here."

And, of course, one cannot discount the mere presence of Darren Moulding, the 40 year-old native Albertan who captured the Brier in 2021 and has three silver medal performances to show for his time with the Brendan Bottcher rink.

"He instills the belief that we can actually win," said Horgan. "He has won before; he's seen everything. No matter what situation we get ourselves into, when things don't go to plan, he remains calm."

The Horgan quarter will close out the preliminary round with games on Thursday against Nova Scotia (Matthew Manuel - 3-3) and Manitoba (Matt Dunstone - 6-0).

Northern Hockey Academy