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A shot in the dark pays off for Jacob Horgan

On a micro level, Jacob Horgan was discussing his most recent curling move, joining forces with the J.T. Ryan men's curling rink out of Manitoba for the 2020-2021 season.

On a macro level, Horgan was addressing the current reality within the world of elite curling, where lineup shuffles are about as common as a double takeout at the Brier.

"Teams will change, not even because they are not getting along, or not because they are having terrible success," said Horgan, who steps in to assume the role of third with his new team, as Colin Kurz and Brendan Bilawka slide in at second and lead respectively.

"It doesn't take a lot for players to leave or teams to change their lienup," Horgan continued. "The teams are looking for that perfect fit, all the time, that group of four guys that can get to the very top level."

"At the top level, it's very rarely about personalities and how you get along. It's mostly just trying to find the four right guys that will put the same time commitment together."

In this particular case, things progressed quickly, especially once it became clear that the Horgan junior squad which included Scott Mitchell, Mitchell Cortello and Chase Dusessoy was going to disband following their one season together.

"I had kind of heard that they (Team Ryan) might be looking for a change, looking for a new player, to play a little bit more," said Horgan. "It was a little bit of a shot in the dark - and it all sort of came together pretty fast, after that."

Having faced Ryan on three different occasions at junior nationals, Horgan already enjoyed a casual acquaintance with the young man who made history in Manitoba, skipping his team to three consecutive junior provincial crowns, the only time that has happened in the 70 year history of the event, in 2019.

Then Horgan got to know Ryan even better.

"At the start of last season, both he and I were part of a Next Gen curling camp as individuals, and we got paired up to play some practice games together," said Horgan. "It went really well, and ever since then, he's kind of been in the back of my mind as a player option."

This marks the third straight off-season where a member of the Horgan family has joined forces with a Manitoba curling rink, with Tracy (Horgan) Fleury starting the trend in 2018 with the trio of Selena Njegovan, Liz Fyfe and Kristin McCuish, and older brother Tanner following suit by teaming up with Colton Lott, Kyle Doehring and Tanner Lott in 2019-2020.

The reality for the younger Horgan is that over and above the fact that he now has to work his way past a very accomplished sibling to make his way to the Brier, he is also trying to earn the provincial berth in arguably the toughest of settings.

"Manitoba is going to be the hardest province," said Jacob Horgan. "Well, maybe Alberta with (Brendan) Bottcher and Kevin) Koe - but Manitoba is a close second. The Brier, however, is at the back of our minds, it's not the primary goal."

"We're pretty young, we don't mind taking a few years to get there. The one goal that we would be chasing is to get enough points to get into the Olympic pre-trails the following year."

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