Glenn Howard has arrived at the 2005 men's provincial curling championship with some unfinished business that has been sticking in his craw for the past year.
A two-time world champion, Howard lost in the final of the provincial event a year ago but is one of the favourites to return to the championship game on Sunday.
"It's a little bit of motivation," Howard said after beating Kirk Ziola 10-7 yesterday in the opening draw of the Kia Cup here at the Iroquois Park Sports Complex in Whitby.
"I don't like coming in second. It was not a lot of fun. But the bottom line is to get there."
In the evening draw, Howard defeated Bryan Cochrane of Ottawa 8-1.
The winner of the tournament earns a berth in the Brier in Edmonton next month, and if the dust settles in the manner many expect for the final on Sunday afternoon, Howard would square off against Wayne Middaugh. It would be a juicy final, given the history the two share. Back in 1993, Howard and Middaugh were members of the team skipped by Howard's older brother Russ that won both the Brier and world championship. The other member of that foursome, Peter Corner, also is a skip at this tournament.
However, neither Howard nor Middaugh is willing to look ahead five days.
"I would love to have that opportunity to play him, but it's a long way away," Middaugh said after getting past Andrew Fairfull of Guelph 10-5 in the first draw. "This is sports, and you don't always get what you expect. You never know what is going to happen."
In the evening draw, Middaugh beat Nick Rizzo of Omemee 7-4.
Players had to endure soft ice yesterday but expect the situation to improve as the week progresses. There were numerous picks in the Howard/Ziola match.
"It was a little tough," Howard said. "I'm hoping it's just a little green. Kirk's team had a ton of picks and you hate seeing that. It can cost you games and I am hoping it will be a one-shot deal."
Curling fans seem to believe Howard and Middaugh will have a date on Sunday. The round-robin game involving both, in the sixth draw tomorrow night, is sold out.
"Maybe we are the favourites coming in, but you have 10 really good teams here," Howard said. "I don't care who I am playing in the final, it means I am in the final and I would be pretty happy about that."