Editor’s note: It’s been more than 40 years since Howard Brazeau skipped his rink of Dick Cisarowski, Jim Schaeffer and Mickey MacEachern to victory at the Canadian Firefighters Curling Association Championships. It was so nice, they did it twice – and back-to-back for good measure – in 1976 and 1977. Here’s a look back at how they did it.
Had Howard Brazeau skipped this team in 1974, they would be on top of the NWT sporting heap in terms of history.
Alas, Brazeau and his rink of Dick Cisarowski, Jim Schaeffer and Mickey MacEachern still made sure they found their place into the record books as the first curling rink from the NWT to win a national title of some sort.
And just to put a cap on it, they did it back-to-back.
The foursome out of the Fort Smith Curling Club were the best of the bunch at the Canadian Firefighters Curling Association Championship, known back then as the Dominion Firefighters Curling Championship, in 1976 and 1977. Their win in 1976 came in Charlottetown with the repeat win coming in Ottawa.
NNSL Media had coverage of the team’s second win in 1977 (“Brazeau king of the firefighters, wins 10 in a row to grab title”, News of the North, April 6, 1977) and according to all accounts, it was a cakewalk.
Brazeau waltzed past the opposition, beating many of them by lopsided scores. The rink began to shine on the second day of the event (March 30). It manhandled the Doug Riley rink from Edmonton, 11-3 – Riley’s first loss at that point – before taking down B.C.’s John Campbell rink, 8-3, and shaded the Gordon Cole rink from Manitoba, 5-3.
That left Brazeau with a perfect record of 5-0 after beating some of the finest rinks in the championship.
The rink maintained that winning pace until it finally clinched the title on Friday (April 1). When he defeated Northern Ontario, 5-4, Brazeau’s record went to 9-0 and no one could catch him. His nearest rival at that point was the Fred Brown P.E.I. rink at 6-3 while four other rinks – Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and B.C. – were next at 5-4.
Brazeau’s 10th win over Nova Scotia, a 7-1 romp, was merely icing on the cake.
Brazeau had the bye on the final day of play Saturday and was able to watch the other teams battle it out from the sidelines.
The win in 1977 was a bit easier than it was in 1976 as Brazeau had to win in a playoff over Alberta and Saskatchewan after all three tied for top spot after the round-robin (there was no playoff system at that time; the winner was the top team following the round-robin). Brazeau had to beat Saskatchewan first and then Alberta to take the title.
Brazeau and company are up against the 1994 NWT junior boys rink of Kevin Koe, Jamie Koe, Kevin Whitehead and Mark Whitehead in the next round of the Greatest Of All Time competition. Voting gets underway next Monday.
So proud of my Dad, Jim Schaefer!! ❤️