Curling at Northlands Coliseum will be a kind of homecoming for Newfoundland-based Team Canada

Curling at Northlands Coliseum will be a kind of homecoming for Newfoundland-based Team Canada

Brad Gushue's Team Canada may be from Newfoundland, but they will have home-ice advantage this week as Edmonton hosts the World Men's Curling Championships at Northlands Coliseum.

The team's lead, Geoff Walker, 31, was born and raised in Beaverlodge, Alta., and lived in Grande Prairie before moving to Newfoundland six years ago.

He says Beaverlodge may be a little quieter than usual this week as he expects close to 100 friends and family to be in attendance at the arena.

"I consider my second hometown now Edmonton — I spend my summers here," said Walker. "When it was announced here, I knew I'd have a lot of family and friends. It's the closest major market to my hometown so you're going to have a lot of people come out and support me."

The team's alternate, Tom Sallows, is from Grande Prairie. He's watched plenty of Edmonton Oilers games at Northlands but he's never curled in the arena. Unless a teammate is injured or otherwise ineligible to play, Sallows may not be playing this week. But the potential to play and support his team in Edmonton is exciting, he said.

"It brings back memories. I've watched a few Briers here as a fan," said Sallows. "There's going to be a lot of excitement and I know they'll do a good job filling this place up."

A shot at making history

Team Canada coach Jules Owchar lives in Edmonton. He started coaching Kevin Martin at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in 1984, before the two worked together over more than two decades in curling.

Brad Gushue has a shot at making curling history this week as a gold medal would make him the first skip to win an Olympics, a World Championships, and a World Junior Championships.

"It'd certainly be nice to be the first one to do that, but it'd be more special to win a World Championships, to be honest, and cap off a pretty incredible year no matter what happens this week," Gushue said. "That's our goal. It's not to make records or for me to have an individual record like that. Just our team winning a World Championships would be awesome."

Team Canada plays its first game at 2 p.m. Saturday against Switzerland. The event continues all week until the gold medal game on April 9.