Middaugh no fan of the ice

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

Win or lose, Wayne Middaugh has some issues with the ice at the Iroquois Park Sports Centre here in Whitby.

Middaugh beat arch-rival Glenn Howard 6-2 last night in the sixth draw of the 2005 provincial men's curling championship before a packed house. The game turned in the third end, when Middaugh stole two after Howard, instead of hitting and sticking for one, rolled out.

"That was another game that was determined by the ice instead of the players on it," Middaugh, of St. George's Golf and Country Club in Etobicoke, said. "Glenn is the best player in the world. He does not miss that hit in the third end, ever. The guys (ice crew) are learning. They need a little more education. It's too bad."

Earlier yesterday, following his first loss, an emotional Middaugh had sarcastically predicted he would lose against Howard because he felt the ice conditions were too much of a factor. At any rate, the majority of observers figure the Middaugh-Howard tilt was a preview of the final on Sunday afternoon, with the winner of the Kia Cup advancing to the Tim Hortons Brier in Edmonton next month.

Before the Middaugh victory last night, Howard had won seven of the eight previous games between the two. Middaugh and Howard are close friends and were teammates on the 1993 world champions, skipped by Howard's brother, Russ Howard.

With three draws left in the 10-team event, Middaugh and Howard are tied atop the pack at 5-1. Howard thought he did not give his pal much of a challenge last night, but he didn't put the entire blame on the ice.

"I make that shot, and it's a whole different ball game," Howard, of the Coldwater & District Curling Club, said. "We weren't really sharp. The ice was a little quicker and I wasn't picking up on it. I didn't feel comfortable the whole game."

Rather than being tied 1-1 after three, Howard fell into a 3-0 hole. He got two points back in the fifth but Middaugh counted three in the sixth, finishing off his opponent.

One intriguing game today pits Middaugh against his cousin, Peter Corner. The latter is in a three-way tie with Brian Lewis and Greg Balsdon at 4-2.

At the other end of the spectrum here is Josh Adams, of the Granite Curling Club of West Ottawa. Adams is the lone skip at 0-6, but said the experience gained in facing competition such as Middaugh and Howard has been invaluable.

"I think (what we're learning) is mainly how to play relaxed," Adams said. "We did not come here expecting to win, we came here expecting to learn how to win. This is our Brier."


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