Hot hand for Howard

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:22 AM ET

LLOYDMINSTER -- Feast, famine, heartbreak and a good run of luck. The closing day of the $75,000 Wayside Inn Classic had it all. In the end, the guy from Coldwater held the hot hand.

Coldwater, Ontario's Glenn Howard grabbed the $22,000 winner's share and moved into third place on the World Curling Tour money list at $48,400 with a 9-5 win over Winnipeg Kerry Burtnyk.

After a 2-2 start, Howard ran off a six-game win streak that was anything but easy in his first appearance at this spiel in a decade.

"Of our last five wins, three were extra ends and the second-last one (the semifinal win against Grande Prairie's Kurt Balderston), we won on a measure," said Howard. "It sure feels great to win it all when you grind it out like we did."

Howard got some great support from Super Sub Jon Mead at third. Mead, who won a Brier title with Jeff Stoughton at Edmonton in 1999, shot lights-out during the streak.

After failing to qualify last week at Portage la Prairie, Burtnyk's $15,000 runner-up payday moved him back on top of the WCT money list with $65,924.

"Absolutely," said Burtnyk, when asked if he liked the way his young supporting cast changed last week's famine into this week's feast. "It's always nice to be on top. I don't know if I've ever been on top this early in the year."

Martin, who claimed No. 1 last week with Mead pinch-hitting for him in Portage, drops back to second with an even $60,000 after he was bounced 7-1 by Balderston in the morning quarter-final. Martin has been here 15 times and has yet to play a final.

In fact, none of the four Edmonton teams survived their morning quarter-final. Randy Ferbey's $5,500 qualifying cheque moved his team up two rungs on the WCT money ladder into a fifth-place tie with Pat Simmons at $25,500.

Balderston suffered the biggest heartbreak of the day, when he lost 3-2 on a measure to Howard in the semifinal.

"Jon came up to me, shook my hand and I thought he said 'nice steal,'" said Balderston, who's lost for Alberta finals. "Actually, he was saying 'nice spiel.'"

Everybody in the building was convinced that Balderston had stolen a tight defensive struggle until the measuring stick was brought out. Balderston's third Les Sonnenberg had to inform his skipper they had lost by one-sixteenth of an inch.

"I thought we had 'er when we looked at it," said Balderston, whose squad piled into the car for the seven-hour ride home. "I guess that's why they have a measuring stick."

Even though Balderston may have been the "one of these things doesn't belong" in a final four that included two-time world champ Jeff Stoughton, he mixed it up pretty good with the big boys this weekend.

"We lost to a great team ... what can you say," said Balderston, who took home $8,000. "We beat Simmons (C qualifier), Martin and Howard (9-6 in the B Event quarters) and lost by a fraction of an inch in the semi."


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