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Winning the Tankard a surreal feeling for Corner Brook’s Matthew Hunt

Matthew Hunt participates in the 2018 provincial men’s curling Tankard as the third for the Greg Smith foursome. The Smith rink won the provincial Tankard with a 9-4 win over Andrew Symonds on Sunday at the ReMax Centre in St. John’s.
Matthew Hunt participates in the 2018 provincial men’s curling Tankard as the third for the Greg Smith foursome. The Smith rink won the provincial Tankard with a 9-4 win over Andrew Symonds on Sunday at the ReMax Centre in St. John’s. - Joe Gibbons

When Matthew Hunt woke up Monday morning he thought it was all a dream.

A smile and a sigh of relief would follow, knowing something he had talked about as a young curler had come to fruition.

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The Greg Smith foursome out of the ReMax Centre in St. John’s, with Hunt in the role as third, won the 2018 provincial men’s curling Tankard with a 9-6 win over Andrew Symonds of St. John’s Sunday at the ReMax Centre in the capital city.

“It hasn’t totally sunk in yet, but at the same time it’s exciting and I’m over the moon, but it still kind of feels surreal,” Hunt said Monday afternoon.

Hunt has been pursuing a shot at national competition since he embraced the game as a youngster growing up in Corner Brook.

His mother reminded him after his win that he had told her a long time ago that he would curl at the nationals someday.

After so many years of coming close to representing his province at the national level in the junior bracket, he’s happy to see his hard work pay off, with his first national experience being the Brier.

The Smith foursome, which also includes Andrew Taylor and Ian Withycombe of St. John’s, sailed through the round-robin with an unblemished 8-0 record. The only blip on an unforgettable weekend was a 9-4 loss to Symonds in the first championship game.

Smith had gone unbeaten in round-robin play, so that meant he had to be beaten twice.

When the team got together back in August they came up with a philosophy they wanted to follow for the balance of the season. They decided that fun would be the key focus regardless if they won a game or not, and that’s what they did all weekend.

“We determined that we were going to have the most fun out of everybody else all year,” Hunt said. “We had an absolute blast this week.”

The Smith foursome will represent Newfoundland and Labrador at the 2018 Brier being staged March 3-11 in Regina, Sask., where fellow Newfoundlander Brad Gushue will wear Team Canada jerseys, having won the 2017 Brier on home ice in St. John’s.

That means for the first time in 11 years somebody other than Gushue will wear the provincial colours as the Brier skip.

Hunt would love to see his team in the same pool as Gushue in Regina. That would be one of the coolest things he could possibly imagine in his first Brier experience, he said.

“Having the two NL teams facing off against each other up in Regina I think would be fantastic,” Hunt said. “It would be great for fans. It would be great for the sport here in the province, so it would be wonderful.”

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