Kings to paupers?

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

HALIFAX -- They're the Brier Kings. But they're not so good with the Olympic rings.

For half a decade the Ferbey Four have dominated. For the front end of the new century, they've been the story, the whole story and nothing but the story - every day at every provincials, every Brier and every world championship, but the one they missed.

By high noon here today, if Jeff Stoughton has his way, they'll be just another rink mopping up a bonspiel, just another team with their linescore in agate, another casualty on the road to Turin.

They're Randy Ferbey, Dave Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer and Marcel Rocque - the greatest team in the history of curling. And if they lose one more, the dream of going to the Olympics and completing their collection of crowns will be gone.

"We want him to get four losses and get rid of him,'' said Stoughton, the Winnipeg curler who has a chance to hand Ferbey the fatal fourth loss first thing this morning.

If that sounds cold and heartless, Stoughton was anything but as he essentially made a public plea to prevent the crowd from reacting the way they did here yesterday.

"For some reason Canadians seem to hate a winner. The poor guy, he's out trying his best and people are cheering misses. I think that's pretty ignorant and rude of the crowd to do that to a true champion that's out there,'' he said.

CANADIAN MENTALITY

"I don't know why. It seems the Canadian mentality is that they don't seem to love their winners and these guys are certainly big winners.

"I think the crowd should be a little more respectful. If a team misses a shot, let the end pass, then cheer your hearts out. But when guys are missing and they're cheering those misses, it is very disappointing as a player to see that happening, especially to such a great team.''

It was Glenn Howard handing Ferbey the near-fatal third loss here yesterday, although most would rule it a suicide.

"We're close to being dead,'' admitted Ferbey after losing 7-4 to sit 1-3 following Day 3 of the event, which may be the most excruciating Olympic qualifying competition in the world the way it works.

Ferbey's rink is 48-7 at the Brier and 6-7 at the 'Roar of the Rings' Olympic Trials.

Nobody is declaring them deceased.

"Whatever you do, don't count those guys out,'' said Howard. They're all saying that. At the same time, they're also saying they can't believe what they're watching.

"I predicted carnage here,'' said brother Russ who is 4-0 skipping Brad Gushue's rink while throwing third stones. "I just didn't think it would happen to Randy. And not this quickly. You don't expect to see somebody like that 1-3. But you wouldn't expect us to be 4-0. You wouldn't have bet on that either.''

THE BEST PLAYER

While he still sits ninth of 10 seconds in shooting percentage, Pfeifer was actually the best player on the team this day (86%). Ferbey (76%) sent two shots through the rings without hitting anything on the fourth end, and Rocque (81%) flashed on the seventh end, the same end Nedohin (76%) sent a draw through the house to give up two and provide the TSN turning point.

Brother Glenn admitted he was the big benefactor of the Ferbey rink being too tight.

"They're the best team in the world. But they've struggled. They've missed a few key shots. We got a few uncharacteristic misses out of Dave.''

Nedohin says it's been a common condition for the rink.

"We're missing key shots. My missing that draw for a steal of two was pretty big.''

Their body language has looked lousy most of the tournament, but Nedohin says taking that third loss leaves them with no option and maybe that will change things.

"If we don't run the table, we're going to be packing it up and going home. We all think we can bounce back like we did in Victoria,'' he said of a similar start at the Worlds in Victoria only to bounce back to win their last eight straight and a third world title.

This is a far deeper field. But Ferbey handled it the same way he did when they were on the ropes like this in Victoria. He went the other way.

"Forget about it,'' he said of what's happened here so far. "Just go out and play as well as we can play the next game we play. That's all I can ask.''


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