VICTORIA _ A chat over some beers resulted in Brad Jacobs adding the final piece to his curling team.
The 2012 Tim Hortons Brier in Saskatoon was a disaster for Jacobs' Northern Ontario crew and Brad Gushue's team from Newfoundland and Labrador. Both rinks struggled to 5-6 records and missed the playoffs.
Near the end of the week Ryan Fry, then a third on Gushue's rink, was licking his wounds with Jacobs' rink over a few refreshments.
"It was a horrible year for both of us," Fry said during this week's Ford World Men's Curling Championship. "We were just talking that, if it ever happened, I wouldn't mind curling with you guys.
"It just so happened me and Brad Gushue decided to part ways. I gave Brad (Jacobs) a call. It didn't take very long. The only thing that took a little bit of time was getting out of my job and selling my house in Newfoundland."
In their first full season together Fry has played an important role in Jacobs' rink winning the Brier and going unbeaten in their first five games at the world championships. Canada's first loss came Tuesday morning, a 6-4 decision at the hands of the Czech Republic.
With his buffed body and intensity on the ice, the 34-year-old Winnipeg native further whetted a Jacobs' team that already had an edge.
"He brings a little bit more intensity and a lot more will to want to win everything all the time," said Jacobs.
One of Fry's challenges was joining a family operation where Jacobs is a cousin to brothers E.J. and Ryan Harnden. Jacobs said Fry is like a long-lost relative.
"We knew him before we even curled with him," he said. "We've even had arguments with him before we were teammates, and we still were friends at the end.
"We knew what he was searching for in teammates, and in a team, and maybe he didn't quite find it until he came to our team."
Fry was attracted by the potential of Jacobs' rink.
"I wouldn't play with somebody who I didn't think had a chance of winning a Brier," he said. "After we started the season you could see the team starting to build on what they could do."
The rink's culture extends off the ice. The team works hard at staying fit and likes to have fun when they put the brooms down.
"We really do like to joke around a lot and have a good time," said Jacobs. "We're all into fitness.
"Really, when we hang out it's like we are all best friends."
Fry skipped a Manitoba rink in two Canadian junior championships. He also skipped his own men's team in Manitoba before joining Jeff Stoughton's Winnipeg rink in 2006.
Fry was part of the Stoughton foursome that lost to Glenn Howard in the semifinal of the 2007 Tim Hortons's Brier.
In 2008 Fry left Stoughton and played the next four years with Gushue. The pair parted company last season with Gushue saying Fry wasn't on "the same page" as the rest of the team.
Fry says he has no hard feelings toward Gushue.
"I have all the respect in the world for Brad," Fry said. "We had an expiration. You can only curl so long.
"When things are not working they're not working. We gave it our best shot together. It didn't turn out. We remain good friends."
Lifting the Brier Tankard had some extra personal significance for Fry. His father Barry Fry skipped Manitoba to the 1979 Brier. Father and son shared an emotional embrace following the Northern Ontario victory in Edmonton.
"It's a pretty special feeling to be able to do something you have dreamed about," said Fry. "It's an awesome feeling for both of us to know we both achieved something a lot of guys don't get to achieve."
Fry said Jacobs' team is still riding the momentum gained at the Brier.
"We're sticking to the practices we did through the Brier," he said. "We're not looking too far ahead.
"We are just going to keep playing the way we are playing and hopefully the results keep coming."
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