Cop is at the top

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

INNISFAIL -- It's an open-and-shut case for Mark Johnson today.

Beat defending champ Randy Ferbey in the 9 a.m. draw and the curling cop grabs first place in Pool A. Lose and he's in a playoff dogfight.

"Here, we look at one game at a time," said Johnson, who won the 2003 Canadian police title and was runner-up last year. "Obviously, you look when you play Randy Ferbey, but you can't pay too much attention to that.

"Ultimately, it's still up to us. If we were to beat Randy, we'd finish first. That's the goal. Winning the pool saves you a lot of games.

"The teams are so square here. If you can save some games, that's the way to go."

Johnson's team qualified through the Alberta Bonspiel series.

"It's like us avoiding the northerns," said Johnson.

"Some teams thought, geez, you're missing some games. At the same time, getting out of the northerns is almost as tough as getting out of the provincials."

Johnson has put together a decent season. It's a streaky team, at one point winning 17 of 18 starts which included wins at Wainwright and Red Deer. The streak ended during the Canada Cup West at the Saville Centre in December. He lost three qualifiers.

Today will be the biggest test of the year for Johnson, who went undefeated last weekend in winning the Viking Fridge Spiel and would like to keep his latest win streak going through the provincials.

"When you get here, every game is a tough one," said Johnson. "Right now, we're playing well."

Johnson has been at six provincials and his dreams of appearing in the Brier are now very much in reach.

"I've been dreaming of playing in that Brier for a long, long time," said Johnson. "The ultimate dream of playing in Edmonton would be fantastic. I've got to keep that dream intact right now because we're still a long way from that. But I'm hoping."


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