Community Clubs Curling

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Curler Bryan Cochrane receives CurlON Lifetime Achievement Award

By Martin Cleary

Bryan Cochrane is a legend at the Russell Curling Club.

He was introduced to the roaring game as a toddler, tagging along with his mother while she played and waiting until the end of her match to ride the rock and see how far he could travel down the sheet of ice.

And for the past 50-plus years, Cochrane has built a reputation as a vital and accomplished member of the fast-growing club – which has welcomed more than 100 new members this season – and continues to play two nights a week.

He’s stopped riding the rocks in favour of placing them in the right spots over the past 30 years to become a successful skip at various levels on the local, provincial, national and international scenes.

But last Friday, Cochrane didn’t have any ice time booked and didn’t bring his curling gear when he arrived at the Russell Curling Club. Instead, he was there to be the man of the moment.

Cochrane, who recently turned 65, was presented CurlON’s Lifetime Achievement Award by executive director Stephen Chenier. The provincial curling governing body could have given Cochrane an award for his multiple-medal career, but to win this honour he needed to earn specific criteria.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is reserved for curling skips who have won five Ontario championships at any level. In 2003, Cochrane skipped Ontario to the provincial men’s Tankard and a berth in his first Canadian men’s Brier. His other four Ontario titles were achieved in the men’s senior class in 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2021.


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“It’s nice after this many years,” a humble Cochrane said in a phone interview on Thursday before heading out to curl in a seniors league at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club. “If you win five provincials, you get one.

“It’s not something I’ve tried to achieve, but looking back it’s special.”

Cochrane solidified the award by winning the 2021 Ontario men’s seniors title with his rink of third Ian MacAuley, second Brian Lewis and lead Kevin Sullivan. After going 6-1 in the round-robin and advancing directly to the final, Cochrane defeated J.P. Lachance of the Rideau Curling Club 8-3 in the championship game.

The win allowed Cochrane to represent Ontario at the 2021 Canadian seniors championship in Sault Ste. Marie. Cochrane was second in his pool at 5-1 to undefeated Alberta at 6-0, remained second after the championship pool at 9-1, won his semifinal 8-4 over Quebec, but lost the final to Alberta 4-3 on a last-stone draw by skip Wade White to the four-foot ring.

That silver medal still looks good, especially when put beside Cochrane’s two Canadian men’s seniors championships, which qualified him to represent Canada at the 2019 and 2017 worlds in Stavanger, Norway, and Lethbridge, AB., respectively.

Cochrane had a perfect 9-0 record with MacAulay, Morgan Currie and Sullivan to win the gold medal in Stavanger. At the Lethbridge worlds, Cochrane won his six preliminary matches, quarterfinal and semifinal, but lost the championship final 5-4 to Sweden.

When it comes to the Brier, the Canadian men’s curling championship, Cochrane has viewed it from many different angles. He represented Ontario in 2003 and tied for seventh place at 5-6. Cochrane was the ‘import player’ on the Prince Edward Island team at the 2020 Brier along with MacAuley, Currie and Mark O’Rourke, who all have Islanders’ ‘birth right,’ status. The Cochrane rink was sixth in pool B at 2-5.

Cochrane also was the alternate/coach for Ontario’s Mark Kean for the 2015 Brier. When the Brier was held in Ottawa in 2016 and 2001, he was responsible for the ice crew.

And there may be another Brier in Cochrane’s future. Cochrane, O’Rourke, MacAuley and MacAuley’s P.E.I.-based son Jeremy are talking about entering the provincial championship on the last weekend of January.

“I thought about giving it up a couple of years ago,” said Cochrane, a former principal at Russell High School and elementary school teacher.

“My knees and hips are telling me it’s coming soon. I still enjoy the competition. I enjoy playing with my team. We’ve been together a long time as seniors and we all like the game. You’re only young once.”

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Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.


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