The top four teams at the 2023 Tim Hortons Brier are really, really good.
The Northern Ontario rink of Tanner Hordan, Darren Moulding, Jake Horgan and Colin Hodgson were reminded of that fact - not that this crew needed a whole lot of reminding - as their first and only appearance at nationals as a team (Hodgson has decided to step away from competitive curling next year) came to an end.
Mind you, that end came at the culmination of a very solid run for the NOCA champions, a rink that finished at 6-2 and advanced to the playoffs, even after a tough final round robin game loss (9-2) to the Matt Dunstone (Manitoba) foursome that remains in the running today, with the field now whittled down to just three teams.
On Friday afternoon, battling in the 2nd vs 3rd place cross-over games that would send the last two entries into the final four of this year's Brier, Team Horgan fell behind early, trailing the Brendan Bottcher wildcard # 1 entry (Marc Kennedy, Brett Gallant, Ben Hebert) 6-2 after five ends, drawing to within two in the ninth but ultimately dropping an 8-5 decision to end their week in London.
With a 5-4 win over Dunstone last night, the Brad Gushue Team Canada entry (Mark Nichols, E.J. Harnden, Geoff Walker) secured their place in the final on Sunday night, with Bottcher and Dunstone currently meeting in the semi-final affair, deadlocked in a 5-5 game after seven ends of play.
All in all, it was certainly a Brier that had to be qualified as a success for the local brothers (Tanner/Jake Horgan) who are sure to enter the 2023-2024 season even more motivated to make that jump up to where the truly elite Canadian teams reside.