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Jacobs rink lauded at reception

Original source: http://www.saultstar.com/2013/04/10/jacobs-rink-lauded-at-reception

Brad Jacobs and his rink didn’t accomplish what they set out to do last week at the 2013 Ford Men’s World Curling Championships in Victoria, B.C.

But you’d never know it by the reception they received Tuesday night at Essar Centre in Sault Ste. Marie where nearly 2,000 people lauded the local rink that won a silver medal at the world championships on Sunday, and received the key to the city Tuesday night.

“This is a great honour. We feel so blessed to get this,” Jacobs said from the podium, speaking for himself and his rink, which includes lead Ryan Harnden, second E.J. Harnden and third Ryan Fry.

The rink returned Monday from the tournament in Victoria where they lost 8-6 in the gold-medal game to Sweden’s Niklas Edin.

Tuesday's event was the second major local honour for the group in recent weeks.

Soo Curlers' Association, the team's home club, held a come-and-go reception for the rink after it won the Tim Hortons Brier in Edmonton, Alta., on March 10.

The Brier is the Canadian Men's Championship.

On Tuesday night at Essar Centre Jacobs and his team received a standing ovation when they were led into the arena.

Local dignitaries, such as Sault MP Bryan Hayes and Mayor Debbie Amaroso, honoured the group with speeches and best wishes.

Amaroso presented the rink with a key to city and plaque.

“I couldn't be prouder to be mayor of Sault Ste. Marie with” these young men sitting behind me, she said.

Jacobs wasn't surprised by the outpouring of support he and his rink have received from local fans.

“You accomplish something like we did in this city, where we were already a little bit known ... You know that people are going to rally behind you and support you,” he said. “It's much appreciated,” he said during an interview minutes before the proceedings.

The support the group has received since winning the Brier and medalling at the world championships “has been insane,” said Ryan Harnden.

A billboard on Trunk Road has even been erected honouring the team's recent achievements.

“It been crazy the last three weeks or month,” said Ryan.

“Sault Ste. Marie has been really good to us before all this stuff happened. And it's been just crazy after (we won). There's so much support throughout social media, on Twitter and Facebook, even that billboard there (on Trunk Road). It's awesome,” Ryan said.

Ryan Fry, a native of Winnipeg, Man., who joined the rink this season, did not anticipate such an enthusiastic reaction from local residents.

“The fans in the community have just rallied behind us. It's great to be a part of it,” he said.

There is a personal satisfaction that comes with winning the Canadian men's title and a silver at the worlds. But realizing how much those accomplishments mean to Saultites makes those experiences even more rewarding, said E.J. Harden.

“It's much more special to see how much it meant to (people in) Sault Ste. Marie, and how much it meant to the community,” said E.J.

It's been quite a ride the past four weeks, E.J. said.

“It's something we'll never forget.”

“It's been an absolute whirlwind,” Fry added.

Things seem to have progressed very quickly since the local team headed out to Edmonton to begin the Brier at the end of February, Jacobs said.

The group came back to the Sault for a short break before heading West again to the world championships in Victoria.

“It's been a giant blur,” Jacobs said. “I don't even know what day it is half the time, or sometimes even what time it is in the day ... It's been extremely busy, exciting, thrilling, exhausting,” he said.

“It's just so many emotions mixed into one. But we wouldn't trade it for the world. We've been through some pretty massive ups and downs,” he said.

Although Jacobs was very disappointed after losing in the finals at the worlds, he agreed some of the sting from his team's loss to the Swedes was eased by the outpouring of support they received Tuesday night at Essar Center.

“Sometimes in sports you're just on the wrong side of the inch. I think that in that final game, we were on the wrong side of the inch and we played against a real hot Swedish team,” he said.

Fry admits the rink's recent accomplishment have not completely sunk in yet because he has other things on his mind, such as the final event of the season that is being held in Toronto next week.

“I don't think I'm going to reflect back on it (the Brier and worlds) until the season is officially over, until that last rock is thrown,” Fry said.

The Player's Championship kicks off Tuesday, April 16 and run until Sunday, April 21, at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, formerly known as Maple Leaf Gardens.

Fifteen of the best teams in the country and world will participate at the Grand Slam event

“It's going to be intense. It's going to be another super tough weekend,” Jacobs said. “Everyone you could possibly think of is in it. That's going to be the last event of the season and we want to finish strong,” he said.

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