New Brunswick

How two N.B. curling skips went from rivals to allies

Alex Peasley and Emmanuel Porter never expected they would be working together. But with just a week before they head to Red Deer for the 2019 Canada Games, the two are getting their team ready to chase a medal.

Alex Peasley and Emmanuel Porter will team up to chase a medal at the Canada Games

Alex Peasley, left, and Emmanuel Porter will team up to curl in the Canada Games. (Philip Drost/CBC)

Curling rivals Alex Peasley and Emmanuel Porter never expected they would be joining forces.

But with just a week before they head to Red Deer, Alta., for the 2019 Canada Games, the two are getting their team ready to pursue a medal. 

The two curlers competed against each other for years, each as a skip.

"We hated him as a player, not as a person," Porter said of his new teammate.

"It wasn't like we didn't like Alex because he's such a good curler, it was we don't like him because we know we have to beat him."

Over the years, the two teams were constantly meeting in finals.

Peasley's team would win some and Porter's team would win some. But that finally came to a head in 2018 at the bonspiel to qualify for the Canada Games. 

Devastation

Peasley and his team won their first five games of the bonspiel. His team was on a roll and only had to win one more to make it to Red Deer.

Meanwhile, things didn't go as well for Porter. The team lost their first two games, meaning one more loss would mean elimination.

After those first two losses, Porter was in shambles. He went to his room and closed himself off from his teammates.

He had dreamed about going to the Canada Games for the past seven years. One more bad game and he wouldn't make it. 

The team will leave for the Canada games on Saturday. (Philip Drost/CBC)

"My team likes to bug me saying I just went in my bed and cried. But, no, I was just trying to mentally prepare myself," said Porter.

The team flipped a switch and won game after game. 

That brought it down to the Peasley and Porter teams. Porter had to defeat his rival twice in a row for the Canada Games ticket.

Porter's team emerged victorious, ending Peasley's Canada Games dream. At least that's what he thought.

"It took me a couple weeks to really get back into it," said Peasley. "The day after I was pretty devastated."

Rivals united

Alex Peasley said he was devastated after losing the final game to represent New Brunswick at the Canada Games. (Philip Drost/CBC)

After the big win, coach Brian Dalrymple started preparing his team for the games, and explaining what kind of commitment they would need. 

It turned out the commitment was too much for one player, who left the team, leaving a hole in the squad with just a few months until the games.

That's when Dalrymple reached out to Peasley.

It was an easy decision for Peasley. But it took him a month until the implications of joining the team set in. 

"Then we started going on the ice and I was like, 'Wow, this is my new team, we are going to Canada Games,'" said Peasley.

Adjustment

It wasn't a seamless transition. Peasley was used to being skip and calling the shots.

Peasley is more aggressive when it comes to strategy, while Porter is a bit more conservative.

"It's really difficult," said Peasley, the team's third. "You've got to learn all your teammates' releases and how they throw the stone. You've got to learn how they react when they make a shot and miss a shot."

Emmanuel Porter said it took a while to adjust to having a new person on the team who was used to being skip. (Philip Drost/CBC)

But after a few months of practising together, and adjusting to each other's game, Porter believes they have a good dynamic.

"He's mentally always there, when if I get a little frustrated it takes me a little longer to calm down," said Porter. "It works very well, what we have going on."

The team's first goal is to make the playoffs of the Canada Games. The team has medal aspirations after that.

"It's going to be a huge moment in our life, and all of our lives," said Peasley.

About the Author

Philip Drost

Philip Drost is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick.