At only 23 years of age, Whitehorse curler Thomas Scoffin already has a long list of national and international experiences on the curling rink.
But the Brier is a whole different ball game for the young skip who is ready to take on the rest of the country at the national curling championships in Regina.
“Obviously the Brier is basically the pinnacle of Canadian curling with some of the best teams in the world,” Scoffin said ahead of the 16-team tournament that kicks off Saturday.
Scoffin will be the second youngest skip at this year’s tournament, but the team will have experience in the form of his father Wade Scoffin. Wade has been to the Brier before most recently as an alternate in 2017 and also in 2015 as third for skip Bob Smallwood.
Back in 2015, the lesser-ranked teams had to compete in a pre-qualifying tournament to make the main draw.
The Yukon team made it to the final before losing in heartbreaking fashion to Nova Scotia in an extra end to miss out on the main draw.
“He’s definitely the Brier vet on the team,” Thomas said of his father. “He’s been there and just the little things, how to manage your time and what to expect.”
Thomas grew up around the Whitehorse Curling Club and learning from his father with the dream of making it to this point.
“We’ve talked about it quite a few times over the years,” he said. “It’s hard to believe that it’s going to be real in the next week here. I’m really looking forward to soaking it all in and that experience.”
With the new Brier format just instated this year, the Yukon will have its own representation in the main draw of the national tournament for the first time.
Because of the larger number of teams, the draw has been split into two pools of eight teams with the top four teams in each pool advancing to the playoff round.
“Our goal with this new format is to qualify as one of the top four teams in our pool. We realize we’re setting the bar pretty high for ourselves, but it’s definitely an achievable goal. We’d be thrilled to do that well and move on,” Thomas said.
It will be tough competition right from the beginning for Scoffin’s rink who will be taking on the unknown wild card team that will be determined in a play-in game Friday evening.
Then on Sunday they will take on Team Canada, the defending Brier and world champions led by skip Brad Gushue.
“We know they’re going to make a lot of shots against us and we expect that from them,” Thomas said. “Curling is one of those games, you get a couple of breaks, anything’s possible.”
With his team of third Tom Appelman, dad Wade at second and lead Steve Fecteau, Thomas said the group has been training hard leading up to the big event.
Appelman, who lives in Alberta, flew up to Whitehorse this past weekend to join the team for a final week of training before they fly to Regina on Friday.
“We spent a lot of time on the ice to make sure we’re all on the same page,” Thomas said.
The Yukon will complete their seven-game pool competition with games against Newfoundland, B.C., Alberta, Nova Scotia and Northwest Territories before the teams are split up in the championship and placement brackets.