Is the Brier crowd getting out of hand?

They’re loud. They’re proud. But are the fans in St. John's going too far? Some curlers at the Brier are questioning the behaviour of the crowd during games involving the hometown rink.

'I’ve never actually seen a crowd cheering as loudly for misses,' says Ontario skip Howard

The crowd in St. John's isn't shy about supporting the hometown rink. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

ST. JOHN'S — They're loud. They're proud. But are the fans at the Mile One Centre going too far?

Some curlers at the Brier are questioning the behaviour of the crowd during games involving St. John's beloved Newfoundland & Labrador rink.

"I've never actually seen a crowd cheering as loudly for misses, and I've been to 17 of these," Ontario skip Glenn Howard said.

"This is the loudest I've ever seen in my career, for an opposition missing. I've never actually witnessed that before so this is new to me."

Howard would know. He's played more games at the Brier than any other player in the history of the game. He's won it four times too. But this year's crowd in St. John's has struck a nerve with the veteran, who is gearing up to play Brad Gushue's hometown rink on Thursday afternoon.

"I'll feed off of it. It'll just fire me up," Howard said.

Howard makes it clear that he's not saying he doesn't like the noise level. It's just something he has never encountered. But what he knows he doesn't like is fans getting up and leaving when Newfoundland & Labrador games finish while others are still playing.

"I'm kind of shocked at that," he said. "Courtesy would be to sit and watch the last couple rocks or ends. It's only a few shots coming. It's like leaving before the end of a movie."

Bigger games = louder crowd

Gushue, whose team has been bolstered by the hometown support, has been on the other side of it too.

"We played at the [2006] Olympics against Italy in Italy," he said. "It was so loud and they were 100 per cent against us."

Gushue has been basking in the flag-waving hysteria that takes over the Mile One Centre every time his team is on the ice and making good shots. He also has no problem when people get a little excited about their opponents missing shots.

"I'm not a big fan of the traditional 'be quiet' curling fan, only cheering for made shots," he said. "If you're cheering for a team, celebrate it and cheer for them. Even if you're on the other side of it."

Bob Cole a big fan of Brad Gushue

5 years ago
Duration 7:14
Hockey Night In Canada play-by-play announcer (and former competitive curler) Bob Cole says his hometown of St. John's is firmly behind local product Brad Gushue as the Brier continues in the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Team Canada skip Kevin Koe took his typical even-keeled approach to the issue.

"I'm not too worried about it. As long as there isn't silly stuff going on," he said. "I think someone was blowing a horn when the other team was throwing, stuff like that. That's offside.

"They're here to cheer and that's fine," he added.

Koe and his rink from Calgary play Gushue on Thursday night in a pivotal game to decide possible playoff spots.

"I'm sure it would feel a little extra special to beat him," said Koe.

Northern Ontario skip Brad Jacobs, who felt the force of the hometown crowd on Tuesday night, hasn't had any issue with their exuberance.

"Not a problem at all. We haven't been heckled at all. I think the crowd has been great."

One thing becoming increasingly obvious throughout the week is that, as the games get more important, the crowd gets ramped up a little bit more.

Howard said it could lead to pandemonium should the home side make it into Sunday's final.

"It's going to be a madhouse if Gushue makes the final. It's going to be crazy," he said. "The team that's playing them is going to have to really focus and not let it bother them."


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